Contractors, wholesalers, manufacturers converge on Chicago for education and product knowledge.

More than 550 exhibitors were available for attendees to discuss their products as ISH North America got underway in Chicago Sept. 28-30.

James Bradley, author of the book “Flags Of Our Fathers,” was a keynote speaker at Network '06 in Chicago. Bradley's father was one of the six young Marines who raised the American flag on Iwo Jima. Their action was captured in an historic photo.

With more than 550 exhibitors - about 180 first-timers - ISH North America got underway in Chicago Sept. 28-30. Nearly 11,000 registrants attended various seminars and cruised the show floor, which was broken up into HVAC/radiant, commercial/industrial PVF, and bath & kitchen/plumbing areas.

Starting off the week was Network '06, the combined conventions of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association and the American Supply Association. It began Sept. 26 at Chicago's historic Palmer House Hilton with a stirring keynote address by James Bradley, author of “Flags of Our Fathers,” a look at one of the most famous photos of World War II, the raising of the American flag over Iwo Jima. Bradley's father, John, was one of the six men immortalized in celluloid.

John Bradley never told his son or anyone else in his family about his experiences in the Pacific Theater during the war. After his father's death, James and his family found boxes of letters and photos that they had never seen. Bradley began researching the other men in the photo, and eventually talked to the surviving members about what they had seen and done during their time on Iwo Jima. He realized that the stories of these men would never be told unless he told them - in a book.

Bradley recounted his grueling efforts into getting his book published. His message to the packed ballroom of attendees was to keep at your dream or idea, even if the experts say it is impossible.

The other keynoter at Network '06 was oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard, who has conducted more than 100 deep-sea expeditions, the most famous being the wreck of the Titanic in 1985. While he talked very little about the Titanic and the monumental task of documenting all the many finds, he did speak on the tremendous potential of the planet's oceans.

The country spends three times the amount of money exploring space than its oceans, he said; why not redirect some of that money to exploring the vastness of our oceans and the life that is found there? He has found many prehistoric species in the deep sea, and much could be learned from them.

PHCC President-Elect Jo Rae Wagner speaks to convention attendees about starting an apprenticeship program.

Educational Seminars:PHCC members had their choice of four educational sessions at Network '06 - methods for identifying lost time, residential maintenance agreements, immigration reform, and starting an apprentice program. (See Editorial Director Jim Olsztynski's column for more on the immigration reform panel.)

PHCC President-Elect Jo Rae Wagner (president of CTO Inc., Harlingen, Texas) and Dickie McCurdy (president of MMM Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, Amarillo, Texas) teamed up and discussed their respective apprenticeship programs in different areas of Texas. They prepared a DVD discussing the whys and hows of setting up an apprenticeship program. It also includes a public service announcement that McCurdy recently implemented on his local television stations.

Both Wagner and McCurdy agreed that it is imperative in this industry to have qualified people in the field, and one way to ensure this is to set up an apprenticeship program. Both have formed “boards” of people from their local-area plumbing contractors who are like-minded when it comes to apprenticeship training and wages. This helps spread the financial burden amongst members.

PHCC President Jim Stack addresses PHCC members at the Network '06 business meeting.

PHCC Elects Officers:The business of the association included awards and scholarships, as well as elections. Officers for 2006-2007 are President Jo Rae Wagner; President-Elect Jim Finley, C.N. Finley Inc., New Orleans; Vice President Joe Schmitt, Joe Schmitt & Sons Plumbing & Heating, Englewood, Ohio (who was one of four candidates); and Secretary Frank Maddalon, F.R. Maddolon Plumbing & Heating, Trenton, N.J.

Zone directors were also elected: Zone 1, Ron Dunsmoor, Eastern Mechanical, Biddeford, Me.; Zone 2, George Raburn, Raburn & Raburn, Stockbridge, Ga.; Zone 3, Kenny Calkins, Cloverdale Plumbing Co., Meridian, Idaho; and two for Zone 4, Craig Lewis, R.E.C Industries, Bryan Station, Texas; and Mark Waters, Hoffman Plumbing Co., St. Louis.

Two amendments to the bylaws were unanimously accepted, both regarding new members.

The Association Executives Council of PHCC also named its new officers: President Bev Potts, Illinois PHCC; President-elect Kevin Kruse, PHCC of Iowa; Secretary Jory Isakson, Minnesota PHCC; and Permanent Treasurer Linda Lindsten, Oregon PHCC.

Many awards were presented, including the Delta Contractor of the Year - Dave Jones of Dave Jones Plumbing & Heating, Madison, Wis. - and the Delta Apprentice of the Year - Benjamin Brown of Evan Hibbs Plumbing, Chesapeake, Va.

Alton Shannon, president of Shannon's Inc., International Falls, Minn., was named the 2006 Trane/PHCC HVAC Contractor of the Year.

Jim Witten, a former PHCC secretary and president of WB Investments of Charlestown, Ind., received the Col. Scott Award for meritorious service, named after the first PHCC president, Col George D. Scott. This award is presented to those with the continuing philosophy of dedicated service.

The 2006 PHCC Legislative Service Award went to G. Raymond "Ray" Hefner, executive vice president of the Plumbing Industry Council. The award recognizes an individual who has made a significant legislative contribution to the industry.

And PHCC raised more than $125,000 for the Invest in Your Future program, which funds Auxiliary scholarships and Educational Foundation programs.

At this year's ISH North America, drain cleaning equipment manufacturer General Pipe Cleaners held a drawing, and awarded one of its Power-Vee™ hand-held power drain cleaners to lucky contractor Bruce A. Myhre (Arvid N. Myhre Co., Frenchtown, N.J.). On hand at General's booth to pull the name was (left to right) PM Editor Steve Smith, National Sales Manager Andy Zelazny, and Marketing Director Marty Silverman.

Scholarships:Many scholarships were given over the course of the convention. The PHCC Edu-cational Foundation presented scholarships of $3,000 for either two or four years of study to the following stu-dents:

  • Daniel Ceddia, Sudbury, Mass., is enrolled in a four-year business management degree program at Framingham State College.

  • Danielle Dorsey, Taunton, Mass., is a junior at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., majoring in the construction management degree program.

  • Vincent F. Giglio III, Shreveport, La., is a freshman enrolled in a four-year mechanical engineering degree program at Texas A & M University.

  • Brian Lawrence, Winfield, Kansas, works as a welder/fabricator in his father's business and is plan-ning to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering at Kansas State University.

  • Bryan Schaefer, West Babylon, N.Y., is enrolled in a four-year plumbing apprentice program adminis-tered by the Nassau County PHCC Chapter.

  • Rick Allen Whitaker Jr., Durham, N.C., is enrolled in a four-year degree program at the University of Tennessee with an interest in business or engineering.

American Standard bath and kitchen scholarships, $2,500 per year for up to four years of study, were awarded to:

  • Adrian Gonzalez, Paramount, Calif., is enrolled in a four-year plumbing apprentice program ad-ministered by PHCC of Los Angeles.

  • Jerry Hotarek, Foster City, Calif., is enrolled in a four-year business administration program at Man-hattenville College in New York.

  • Alexandria Lott, Happy Valley, Ore., is a business administration student in a four-year program at the University of Oregon.

  • Johnny J. Mendias III, Fort Stockton, Texas, is a student in mechanical engineering degree program at Texas Tech University.

A.O. Smith Water Heaters scholarships awarded two scholarships, each at $2,500 for up to four years of study:

  • Thomas Orion Hall, Marietta, Ga., is a student in a four-year business management degree pro-gram at the University of Alabama.

  • Ryan P. Matthias, Westlake, Ohio, is enrolled in a four-year architecture degree program at Kent State University.

Bradford White Corp. awarded three scholarships - $2,500 for up to two years of study:

  • Joseph Clady, Danbury, Conn., is a student in a two-year HVAC degree program at the Indus-trial Management & Training Institute.

  • Jeff Hamon, Broken Arrow, Okla., is enrolled in a two-year air conditioning and refrigeration technol-ogy degree program at Oklahoma State University.

  • Kyle Scott, Chester, N.Y., is a student in a two-year plumbing, heating, and refrigeration technician program at SUNY College of Technology at Delhi.

As well as looking at products on the trade show floor, attendees also attended seminars in six tracks: Business Management, Environmental, HVACR, Plumbing, Code, and Radiant Heating. Pictured is Hoyt Corbett of Inventive Development, whose seminar explained how different flooring types can be used with radiant floor heat.

Delta Faucet Co. and PHCC awarded six $2,500 scholarships to students entering a plumbing, heating, cooling career:

  • Peter Costello of East Sandwich, Mass., will be attending Curry College in Milford, Mass., as a freshman major-ing in Business Management.

  • Luke DeWolfe of Boylston, Mass., is currently a sophomore at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., ma-joring in Business Management.

  • Alex J. Gasper of Flushing, Mich., is currently a junior at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., and is majoring in HVACR Engineering Technology.

  • Elisa Maggio of Ipswich, Mass., is currently a sophomore at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., majoring in Business Management.

  • Adam Meny of Haubstadt, Ind., will be attending the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Ind., as a fresh-man majoring in Business Administration.

  • Matthew Torvinen of Duluth, Minn., will be attending the University of Minnesota in Duluth, Minn., as a freshman majoring in Engineering.

The PHCC Massachusetts Auxiliary Scholarship of $1,500 went to Danielle M. Hennessey of Han-son, Mass., a freshman at Providence College. She plans to pursue a degree in political science or journalism.

And the PHCC Past National Officers Scholarship - $2,500 - was awarded to Cassidy J. Hasel-hoff Jr. of Ames, Iowa. He is a student at Des Moines Area Community College pursuing a two-year HVACR technician degree program.

PHCC Auxiliary:The annual PHCC Auxiliary Lunch was again sponsored by InSinkErator. The Auxiliary, with the help of the PHCC Educational Foundation, awarded scholarships to deserving students, including the Ginny Scholarship, which went to Dawn Thomas of Delaware.

The Robert Cox Humanitarian Awards were given in the image and recruitment categories. In addition, Sandy Stack of Stack Plumbing, Kirkland, Wash., was named Auxiliary Member of the Year. The annual 3-D Award went to Judy Driscoll of T.R. Driscoll, Lumberton, N.C. Auxiliary officers for the new year are President Linda Bienvenu, Bienvenu Brothers Enterprises, Harahan, La.; President-elect Ann Belus, Cable Pipe & Leak Detection, Jamul, Calif.; Vice President Ann Rivers, Plumbing by Rivers, Pleasanton, Calif.; Treasurer Jorja Dickemann, AMSCO Mechanical, Glen Carbon, Ill.; Membership Secretary Pat Blank, Qaukenbush Co., Buffalo, N.Y.; and Recording Secretary Lynne Finley, C.N. Finley, New Orleans. Life members of the Auxiliary were treated to breakfast, courtesy of LA-CO Industries.

Energy Saving Products Ltd.'s small-diameter, high-velocity heating and cooling system went up rather quickly at RPA's Radiant House. Installing the product is Sean Prevost.

RPA Continues To Focus On Education

The Radiant Panel Association held its annual business meeting and conference in conjunction with ISH North America for the first time this year.

Along with its well-rounded catalog of courses and seminars, and its annual System Showcase Awards, the organization also featured prominently on the show floor with its popular Radiant House, which was co-sponsored by Plumbing & Mechanical, Supply House Times, and PM Engineer.

From the start, RPA shed light on its main focus: education. Full-day Radiant Basics and Radiant Precision courses were offered on Sept. 28 and Sept. 30. On the morning of Sept. 29, four concurrent seminars instructed members on topics ranging from hi-velocity and radiant cooling, to discussions on protecting yourself from liability as well as expanding your business to include green technology.

RPA followed the seminars with its annual business meeting, where it was announced that two members of its board of directors had resigned: Secretary Dan Chiles and Treasurer Tom Meyer. Attendees were informed that board member replacements would be voted on and announced soon.

Executive Director Larry Drake reiterated what RPA was all about: an association organized exclusively for educational purposes. He then highlighted the various learning opportunities and venues available to RPA members, including ROPES downloadable educational series, RPA certification courses, the RPA home study “survival kit,” and the new, which features live online seminars members can attend from their own computer.

Briefly, the group discussed next year's REX tradeshow and conference that will take place in Hartford, Conn., in August.

On the ISH North America show floor, RPA's Radiant House featured live demonstrations from various industry vendors: Lochinvar Corp., Viega, Taco, as well as a few newcomers. EVH-Weidmann's ParaMax insulation was hoisted easily into the open ceiling studs, while Energy Saving Products Ltd.'s small-diameter high-velocity heating and cooling system went up rather quickly as well. New Product Showcase first-place winner in the Plumbing and Piping category, Sun Hydronics Inc., showed off its retrofit solar energy storage equipment.

The annual System Showcase Awards were presented at a special dinner during the convention. Awards were given in five categories. Pictured are the some of the winners (left to right): Dean Newberry of Talbott Solar Homes; Rod Hyatt of In Hot Water Heat and Power; Stu Lorton of Climate Control Co.; Clay Thornton of Thornton Plumbing & Heating; Dale Arndt of Arndt & Son Plumbing & Heating; and Marty Card & Daryl High of Radiant Heat Products.

System Showcase Winners:The annual System Showcase Awards were presented at a special dinner during the convention. Awards were given in five categories.

  • Retrofit: First place went to Radiant Heat Products for the Cobblestone Winery project; second place went to In Hot Water Heat and Power for the Steckel Historic Home project; and third place went to W.E. Reynolds for the Coleman project.

  • Simplicity: First place went to Arndt & Son Plumbing & Heating for the Nichols addition.

  • Snow/Ice Melting: First place went to Thornton Plumbing & Heating for the Stirlingwood Condos project; second place went to Executive Heating & Cooling for the Schaden residence; and third place went to Geo Source One for the Grote snowmelt project.

  • 1-5 Radiant Zones: First place went to In Hot Water Heat and Power for the Sawrey resi-dence; second place went to Montana Radiant for the Schall residence; and third place went to Warm Quest for the Silo home.

  • 6-15 Radiant Zones: First place went to D&D Plumbing for the Duffy residence; second place went to Summit Plumbing & Heating for the Prides Crossing project; and third place went to Boucher Energy Systems for the Chan-Paley residence.

      The Judges Choice Award went to Thornton Plumbing & Heating. This award is presented to the prject that received the highest overall score when all the judges' scores are combined.

      ISH North America

      The trade show officially began on Sept. 28. As well as looking at products on the trade show floor, attendees also attended seminars in six tracks: Business Management, Environmental, HVACR, Plumbing, Code, and Radiant Heating.

      The PHCC Apprenticeship Contest is always a big draw at the show. This year's contest had 15 participants. The winner was Christopher Platner of L.N. Piccianno (Vestal, N.Y.), who won $1,000.

      One of the highlights of the show for contractors is the PHCC Plumbing Apprenticeship Contest, where apprentices get to show off their skills. Contestants must complete a drain-waste and vent installation for a three-piece bathroom group (water closet, lavatory and shower-liner pan), and the hot- and cold-water distribution system for the installation.

      This year's contest had 15 participants. The first-place winner ($1,000) was Christopher Platner of L.N. Piccianno (Vestal, N.Y.). Second place ($750) went to R. Thomas Allen of Gateway Mechanical (Fenton, Mo.), and third place ($500) went to Mathew Nickelson of Gotelli Plumbing (San Rafael, Calif.). All three winners received plaques from the Educational Foundation and a trophy from the Copper Development Association. State Water Heaters provided the cash prizes for the top three winners.

      All contestants received plaques commemorating their participation, as well as t-shirts, baseball caps and hand tools.

      Estimation took first place in the New Product Showcase Software & Business Efficiency Technology area at ISH North America.

      Another popular area was the New Product Showcase, which had 124 new products for show attendees to examine. Companies competed in seven categories, including Best Over-All Product, which was awarded to Schuco Solar USA for its solar domestic hot water system. The company also won the HVAC category.

      The best Plumbing & Piping product was a domestic solar water heater from Sun Hydronics, and the best Hydronic Product came from Pommerening Armaturenwerk GmbH & Co. Gerber Plumbing Fixtures won the Bath & Kitchen category.

      Mill Rose Co. took first place in the Tools & Equipment category, and Estimation took first place in the Software & Business Efficiency Technology area.

      The Plumbing Council of Chicagoland set up a "racetrack" for ISH North America attendees; they could either race bathtubs or toilets.

      UA Day At ISH: The second day of ISH North America was UA Day, featuring a speech by UA General President William Hite, and many of the UA's training trailers were on the show floor.

      Hite delivered his speech to a packed, standing-room-only room. Also, local UA apprentices were in the audience. Hite outlined a number of ways the UA will strengthen the construction union labor market throughout the country.

      Although Hite mentioned a number of studies that conclude that the unions' presence in the construction market is in the low teens percentage-wise, he added that, according to their own studies, the figure might be a more healthy 30 percent, but he quickly added that unions used to account for 85 percent of construction jobs.

      “Recruiting, organizing and training - that's the bottom line for the UA,” Hite noted.

      He painted an optimistic future for construction, particularly in energy-related operations. Hite went on to explain how the unions will do just that; for example, an unorthodox method was the banking initiative, where union officers have been taking to officials of the largest banks in the nation, telling them that the UA represents 330,000 members and billions of dollars in pensions.

      “What we've said is that we'll help promote your bank and its services, but in return, we want 100 percent of your construction and service jobs,” Hite said.

      The Canfield Technologies booth at the 2006 ISH North America trade show. Pictured are (left to right) Ed & Phil Kornstein, Canfield's manufacturers' reps; Bob McIntire, Canfield president/general manager; Ben Odom, Kaydon group controller; and Vinnie Kotowski, sales manager.

      Best Estimating Practices

      The best estimating practices for pre-bid, takeoff procedures and project management were discussed Sept. 28, in one of the education sessions during ISH North America.

      Alan Mech, president and CEO of Estimation, led the discussion with pre-bid. In a show of hands, about half of the audience was using some type of computerized estimating program. Rather than focusing primarily on how many bids actually turn into jobs, Mech pointed out that “getting profitable work is what's important.”

      To accomplish that, Mech advised asking whether you've got the right crew, tools, technology and experience to do the job up for bid. Determine what type of work you may want to specialize in and select that work rather than chase after anything and everything, he added.

      “Computer estimating gets rid of worrying about third-grade math,” he said, “and lets you analyze working conditions.”

      Rocco Bognet, vice president of sales and marketing at QuickPen, followed with a presentation on takeoff procedures.

      “Bid the job how it will be built,” Bognet said. “Factor in all the various installation conditions at the time of takeoff.”

      To accomplish that, Bognet advised breaking down takeoff procedures by system, floor, phase of construction, etc., to name a few.

      A common takeoff mistake to avoid, he added, was not to take into account the elevation of the work. Bognet also mentioned other labor variations that many contractors fail to take into account, such as stacking of trades, multiple floors, accessibility, even soil conditions.

      Allen Steffler, a consultant with Accubid Systems, wrapped up the seminar by offering advice on project management.

      To make your bid stand out from the competition, Steffler advised finding a way to build a mousetrap.

      The estimator's job doesn't just stop at bidding. “That's just the first step,” he explained. “Estimators should build a proposal with the customer in mind.”

      Steffler said estimators should determine what the customer wants to see in a bid proposal. Do they value low price, fast completion, proven quality and/or preferred subcontractors?

      All the information learned by the estimator during the bid process must be shared with the project manager and foreman in a turnover meeting.

      “It's a cliché to say, 'Plan your work and work your plan,'” Steffler said.“But it's very true to profitability.”