Wholesalers Do Care About Training Their Staff

I read Jim Olsztynski’s editorial in the August 2011 issue, “View from the supply house,” with great interest. While we in the wholesale-distributor segment agree with much of what Jim writes regarding the service level of most wholesalers and can attest that most wholesalers provide exemplary service to their customers, especially during these volatile economic times, we take exception with his statement that most wholesalers have a hard time finding trained people. We don’t think he should paint an industry with such a broad brush by implying most wholesalers have issues with unskilled staff.

What Jim failed to mention is that the level of service, technical and educational ability vastly differs depending on the distributor a contractor purchases product from. Wholesale firms that belong to the American Supply Association have access to a vast array of product and operational training developed under the Karl E. Neupert Endowment Fund, including online courses. The fund provides the resources necessary to develop extensive training especially for our wholesale members’ employees, keeping them informed of what’s happening in the marketplace. 

While it may be difficult to cram a lifetime of knowledge into a very short timeframe, the American Supply Association and its members have made great strides in fast-tracking much of the important educational knowledge to enable distributors to bring their staff along quickly. In addition, many of our members have staffed their counter positions with former craft workers who have a lifetime of product knowledge and technical skills. They have trained those workers to best serve the needs of the contractor. 

The next time a contractor needs to purchase product or find solutions to his technical problems, it might be a good idea to see who he is buying from and what type of training that distributor offers its employees. If a quality distributor charges a few pennies more for its products, that contractor may want to buy from the better-trained wholesaler - because it may save him thousands of dollars in headaches later.

Michael Adelizzi
Executive Vice President
American Supply Association

'Women In Plumbing' Should Focus On Women Plumbers

I’d like to comment on Kelly Faloon’s recent Women in Plumbing article (“Women in Plumbing: ‘Plumbing is a great choice,’” July 2011). First let me say that I embrace and rejoice for the accomplishments of Tammy Ferris. As a woman working in this trade for 26 years, more than 20 out in the field, spending some time with what you call a technician and riding in the truck does not make one a plumber (or mechanic, as I call us).

Although there are not many of us, we are out there in the ditches, crawl spaces, penthouses, power plants, hospitals and new buildings putting pipe in the air or ground. We are out there building America in the rain, snow, heat and cold, right alongside our brothers. You will never truly know this trade until your boots are on the ground. The warehouse or the truck may give you a start, but the field is a whole different place.

Attracting young people, men or women, is a problem not just for residential plumbing; commercial and industrial plumbing suffers the same. Hard work is hard work. Those who choose this trade know that, regardless of their gender. Like Ms. Ferris, I have no regrets entering the plumbing industry. I encourage other hard-working women and men to join us.

Karen O’Neil
Louis N. Picciano and Son
Vestal, N.Y.

I believe that the cover of July’s PM magazine should have said, “Woman in business that happens to be a plumbing business.” This woman worked her way up in this company without getting a plumbing license; it could have been any type of company. Why when it comes to women in plumbing don’t you show a woman plumber? This also goes for women in the showrooms that have apprentice cards and win scholarships.

I am very proud to be a plumber. I believe no one should be called a plumber unless he or she has worked out in the field, served an apprenticeship and passed the plumbing exam. If you are going to write about a woman in plumbing, how about showing a licensed plumber that happens to be a woman?

Robert W. Leete
Master Plumber
Greenfield, Mass.

I read the latest “Women in Plumbing” article in the July 2011 issue and was wondering what the qualifications are be in your magazine. I ask because we at M. Cary and Daughters Plumbing are a group of female plumbers, all of us licensed in our trade. It seems as though you have to be a “big wig” in the industry to get any recognition.

We are a small, family-owned plumbing contracting company in Decatur, Ga. There are four licensed women plumbers here, and while we may not be as large of a company as your magazine cover girl, we are all heart! It would be nice every once in a while to see the little guy actually getting some of the recognition that these multimillion-dollar companies get for having one licensed woman who probably doesn’t even go out in a truck and do the work. 

But we still love your magazine - and the fact that you aren’t afraid to actually put a woman on the cover!

Michelle Cary
M. Cary & Daughters Plumbing
Decatur, Ga.

Editor’s note: While Tammy Ferris is not a Master Plumber, she did obtain her journeyman’s plumbing license and worked briefly in the field before moving up in management and buying the company. Plumbing & Mechanical would like to feature more women plumbers in its “Women in Plumbing” series; email us at editor@pmmag.com if you are a woman plumber and want to tell us your story.

Kudos From Women In Plumbing Management

I read Jack Tester’s “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” column (April 2011) and loved it! I must say sometimes it is tough for us ladies in the plumbing industry, which is still a man’s world. He mentioned so many perfect things about the reality of our everyday duties in upper management, such as marketing and, most importantly, how we relate to customers and how that makes a difference in all levels of the company’s success. Thanks for giving us some props!

Nichole Di Modica
Addario’s Inc.
Lynn, Mass.

I loved Jack Tester’s column in the April edition of Plumbing & Mechanical, “Guess who’s coming to dinner.” My father started our plumbing business from the ground up. The son of a steelworker, he was quite proud of his accomplishments. His hope was that his three sons would have a bright future already established for them; they could just nurture it and let it grow.

Unfortunately, all three sons left the business over the years for one reason or another, leaving me, the daughter, to carry on his legacy after his death. I was grateful to have had my father’s guidance for more than 20 years. My husband is a Master Plumber and our son recently obtained his journeyman’s plumbing license.

I could relate and appreciate Jack’s take on the situation. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been hung up on when someone asks to speak to the “owner” only to learn I am a woman. It is not quite so bad when a sales rep comes in person, but you can still see the surprise and sometimes uncomfortableness on their faces. With a unisex name like Chris, they are expecting to confront a man.

Chris Falduto
Remmco Plumbing & Heating
Johnstown, Pa.

Oil Heat Piping Concern

Regarding the article “Oil Heat Cares keeps the heat on” in the May 2011 issue of Plumbing & Mechanical, all the people and organizations involved are to be highly commended for their care, concern and unselfish contributions to help persons in need. I believe that is why we are blessed with varied talents and gifts to help others in need. Steam systems and related piping have been an interest of mine for more than 20 years. I have personally been involved in the sale and installation of many steam boilers, including the Peerless unit shown in the article. 

I was disappointed to see the piping arrangement that appears in the picture in the beginning of the article. The header appears to be piped incorrectly and I do not see the equalizer piping off the end of the manifold. Peerless instructions are very clear on pipe sizes and piping arrangement. This system will not perform as efficiently and satisfactorily as it could. It appears it was piped as a typical hot water system. It is unfortunate that a wonderful gift has been given and the receiver will not get the anticipated benefit.

I still want to commend the contributions of all but  encourage them to read the instructions before they start. I started in this business in 1971 and find that reading the instructions first always is best. 

Glenn A. Bechtel
Oley, Pa.

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