Mike Miazga: The plumbing industry is rapidly changing
In early February I wrapped up one heck of a travel schedule to industry events that took me here, there and everywhere and all points between. Actually, it was six stops that totaled about 11,960 miles, but who’s counting?
And in the course of traveling those nearly 12,000 miles, I learned the industry we conduct business in is in the midst of undergoing a sizable shift.
From a products standpoint, that was very evident at the recent KBIS-IBS combined show in Orlando and the AHR Expo blowout in Chicago. Both tradeshows were rife with products focusing on two important platforms: remote connectivity and contractor/installer productivity. In other words, it’s all about making life as easy as possible for the end user and the folks installing the products. You can check out our AHR Expo coverage in this month’s issue where you also will find plenty of KBIS-IBS new products.
During KBIS, I attended ASA’s Showroom Managers Networking Council meeting where I heard Elkay’s Robb Best talk about leveraging neuroscience in not only a showroom setting but in a general sales setting as well. This was the third or fourth time I’ve heard Best talk and his presentations continue to not only be fascinating but are loaded with must-have material.
Best also tapped into the changing landscape theme. “Sixty-five percent of millennials will shop online while in your showroom. It’s a natural portal for them,” he said. “The internet and your showroom have to interconnect.”
With March being our annual Women in Industry issue, I stopped off in Cleveland to visit with the women of industrial PVF manufacturer/master distributor Merit Brass, a company that has been way ahead of the curve for a long time now when it comes to the number of women it has thriving in key positions in the company.
And change continues to be afoot on the buying group front. The combined Luxury Products Group and Omni meetings were held in Palm Desert, California, in late January and early February. LPG, under the leadership of new Director Jeff MacDowell, has undergone a rebranding and has welcomed a pair of new key vendors (DXV by American Standard and Barber Wilsons & Co.) to the group.
Omni continues to ramp things up for its members on the back-office and marketing end while tackling issues such as vendor consolidation in the group. My report on that meeting can be found on in this issue, too. During the buying group’s general session, former Sloan HR executive Margie Rodino spoke to the attendees about a number of HR topics, including the retention of employees.
“People are your biggest asset and will continue to be your biggest asset,” she said at the meeting. “This is the time of talent. Engaging your talent allows you to not have to source for new talent.”
And what about this cost-effective piece of advice to help you not have to hang the help-wanted shingle every week: “One of the biggest things you can do and it doesn’t cost too much is just be present,” she said. “Get out and walk around and talk to your employees.”
Finally, ASA’s Winter Planning Meeting in the Bahamas featured two days of hard-hitting discussions and planning sessions that helped map out the future of the national association by identifying some key pain points facing the supply chain now and going forward. What will the ASA member of 2027 look like? That’s what was tackled in the Bahamas.
And the message coming out of the Atlantis resort was crystal clear: Distributors adverse to change in this ever-evolving environment where technology enhancements and customer demands are as fluid as ever, will be, to build on one distributor’s thought during the meeting, left at the train station watching the train filled with its adapting competitors buzzing by.
It’s an exciting time in the PHCP-PVF industry whether you are a distributor, supplier, rep or master distributor. Change is here and it’s not letting up anytime soon.
Is your company prepared and willing to change? I’m hoping the answer to that question is a resounding yes.