Industry Gets No RespectThank-you for the editorial, “Plumbing Codes Get No Respect” (May 2007). Let me be so bold as to suggest that the plumbing and piping industry gets no respect.
Much of the current innovation in our industry appears to be focused on how cheap and how fast work can be done and how little skilled labor is involved.
I am not supporting the return of wiping lead joints, redwood water mains and 1 1/4-inch lavatory drains. Those things are best left in the good old days with the horse-drawn plumbing wagon.
That said, the current trend in much of our industry is fixated on immediate cost-savings by employing some nature of less-costly materials or the elimination of some skilled labor. Very rarely do those with the pinchpenny mindset consider the long-term consequences associated with this technology change.
Although technology can give us more cost-effective installations, we must resist the urge to “do anything to save a buck.”
Perhaps we in the piping industry would be better served by asking not how much can we save immediately by employing a new technology, but how well this development will serve our clients in five years, 10 years or 50 years. The penny saved today may not justify the lawsuit of tomorrow.
Thomas D. Fisher
Craig Plumbing Co.
Real-World Data NeededLarry Drake’s article about the need for more research into the fuel saved by radiant heating systems was an inspiration to me (“Real-World Radiant Energy Savings,” Radiant Heating Report 2007). I hope to see progress in this area, as I think information is sorely lacking.
In at least one living room somewhere in the country right now, a member of our trade is explaining the advantages of radiant heat to a homeowner. But that conversation is taking place without the benefit of much research into the complicated question of just how it is that radiant systems save energy.
The question is complicated because radiant heat has the potential to save energy in not just one but many ways, and is further complicated because none of these factors operates alone.
I hope that someone will do some top-quality research to give system designers real knowledge of which design features save the most energy, allowing them to focus on the most important ones, while knowing which ones can be skipped without incurring too high an energy penalty.
Gifford Fuel Saving Inc.
New York City, N.Y.
Growing, But RememberingI just read Al Levi’s column, “Father Knows Best,” in the April issue of PM. His dad seemed like a wise man.
I enjoy reading Al’s columns as it helps to keep me focused. I started my plumbing career in the Air Force in 1986 and have been going strong since.
Sometimes it is hard to move up because you seem to lose touch of getting dirty. I kinda miss those days.
Here is one of the many things I learned from my Pop: Can’t is 3/4 can!
Snake ’n’ Rooter
Lee’s Summit, Mo.
Dan's FansDan’s Fans I’ve been a great fan of Dan Holohan for years but have remained one of the silent onlookers.
I thoroughly enjoyed Dan’s articles and his ability to put such a human face to a company as large as Taco (“An American Love Story,” April 2007). Reading the article, I was reminded of a story I read recently about the Schwinn bicycle company. When the owners and managers expanded, they did not consider the company’s roots or the people that made them what they were. Ultimately, that led to its bankruptcy.
Taco seems to remember where it came from and what made it great. I’ve used Taco products for years and will continue to do so with even more trust that I am buying from a good company.
Rapids Plumbing & Heating Inc.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
My husband is a master fitter and plumber who receives PM. I read it cover to cover religiously, and had to let you know that Dan Holohan’s column, “Interview With A Dead Man” (May 2007) had me giggling all the way through. And it was educational, too, from a layperson’s perspective. I really have learned a lot about his industry from all the articles. Keep up the good work because it is appreciated.
Coral Springs, Fla.
Common-Sense SavingsThank-you for the tremendous job you folks do on your publications, month in and month out. I particularly like the articles devoted to finding solutions to increasing energy efficiency in commercial buildings.
I have been a commercial HVAC technician for many years and one of the pet peeves that I have is when a commercial building is constructed with all the latest energy-saving technology, but has air-cooled HVAC equipment with no water available to clean it with. As your readers undoubtedly know, when HVAC equipment gets dirty, it loses capacity and increases energy use.
We don’t need a lot of new technology to maximize energy efficiency in existing equipment, we just need a little water periodically.
I’ve been around the business long enough to know that these little items have a tendency to get deleted to save costs during original construction, but here’s hoping that mechanical and plumbing engineers can impress upon the owners the increased life-cycle costs, especially in this time of heightened energy awareness.
Letters About A LetterI take offense by the statements made by Harry A. Chargois Jr. in his letter titled “Get Real” (June 2007). One-man shops are a vital part of our business. It’s the start of a dream, even a life-long journey. Mr. Chargois portrays all these shops as misrun and not customer-minded. May I also add the insinuation of the lack of basic business practices such as insurance, vacation scheduling, etc.
My advice is that next time, stay with the facts instead of creating such a fictional plot painted with such a wide brush.
Wayne J. Pisanchyn
Wayne J. Pisanchyn Inc.,
Plumbing & Heating
Clarks Summit, Pa.
I take offense to Mr. Chargois’ notion that a one-man shop owns only his or her job. I have had as many as eight employees at one time and found it more a baby-sitting service than anything else. I chose instead to raise my son in the business. At one time, he was the youngest master plumber in Wichita, Kan. He now lives and works in Honolulu and has a crew of young plumbers working for him.
I assure Mr. Chargois that when I go out of town for any length of time, I make sure I have a trusted plumbing contractor take care of my emergencies. Believe it or not, the one-man shops outnumber the bigger shops, and we remain small by choice. We network. We attend continuing education classes. We raise families. We send our children to college. We rely on one another to help each other out when needed without fear of losing our tiny little business to the competition.
I have a loyal client base that is both wide and deep, strengthened through the years by professionalism and personal attention to everyone’s needs.
Wealth and success take on many forms. It isn’t always measured by the size of one’s savings account. It’s also based on the number of friends one has. I consider myself a wealthy man.
Dale R. Cook
Image CorrectionThe August 2007 issue of Plumbing and Mechanical printed an article, “Surviving the Consolidation Game.” The article shows a picture of 111 South Wacker, listing it as an EMCOR client.
Hill Mechanical Group was responsible for the design-build of the HVAC building systems and continues to provide the stationary operating engineers. Gibson Electric (an EMCOR company) was responsible for the electrical systems. Hill Mechanical feels the use of this picture for Plumbing and Mechanical is misleading.
Hill Mechanical Group and Gibson have similar roles on the next TJBC building, 155 North Wacker.
Robert L. Krier
Hill Mechanical Corp.
Franklin Park, Ill.