Natalie Forster: Fixing problems that can't be fixed
My family loves to tell one particular story about my childhood — the day I faced the devastating truth that my dad couldn’t fix anything.
As an HVAC technician with more than 25 years of experience, he is quite the handyman, and I loved to brag, letting anyone who would listen know that “my dad can fix anything.”
At five- or six-years-old, I broke one of my favorite CDs to listen to in the car. Luckily, I knew my dad could fix anything, so my plan was to wait until he got off work that day and present him with my problem. Little did I know that a CD broken right down the middle isn’t exactly fixable. “What? But you can fix ANYTHING!” And the tears began to flow.
As I see it, our industry, whether you’re a distributor, manufacturer or contractor, is in the business of fixing. A broken CD isn’t able to be fixed, but what has happened is the release of streaming music platforms, AUX cords with smartphones and other ways to listen to music that completely cut out the fear or risk of damaging your favorite music tracks by eliminating the need for CDs. We still use CDs, so the possibility of breaking them still exists, but there are now alternatives available that can solve the pain point.
Every customer in the PHCP-PVF industry and other related industries has pain points. What I love about this industry is that we constantly see the development of solutions that aren’t a direct “fix” for a problem, but still manage to ease problems for our customers.
For instance, the lack of skilled labor is likely one of the greatest pain points industry-wide. While we are continuously trying to work toward solutions for this problem, there isn’t a black-and-white fix. Manufacturers are addressing this issue by developing products designed to cut time, resources and provide easier installation. Associations, such as our great industry partner the American Supply Association, are doing their part by tirelessly implementing training programs and resources. To me, innovation is about addressing the seemingly impossible; successfully working through the problems that can’t be eliminated.
The past couple months have been a great example of innovation as the industries that keep America running continued production through the COVID-19 crisis. As we all face and deal with the recent pandemic, I have seen more unity and evidence of coming together to “fix” a problem that can’t be fixed than ever before. The uncertainty didn’t stop business owners and employees from doing what was necessary to help each other make it through.
I am thrilled to be your new chief editor of Supply House Times. It is an important time for Supply House Times, along with its sister brands in BNP Media’s Plumbing Group, Plumbing & Mechanical and PM Engineer (pme), to continue to provide the best resources and news for our readers.
I am eager to maintain the already bountiful relationships my predecessor Mike Miazga has built and carry on the tradition of being a great industry partner to many.
As someone with family and friends working in the field every day, I plan to use that perspective to bring you engaging content. I have always been passionate about listening. I believe that social listening is vital and listening to your customer is the backbone of a successful business.
Please reach out to say “hello.” I am excited to see many of you again and continue to meet more of you in the near future.