Hiring, retention and training get examined by more than a dozen experts.

The first of what we hope to be many more editions of “Innovative Thinking” conferences drew 80 participants to the lush resort of Lake Lanier Islands near Atlanta last June 12-13. The conference, sponsored by BNP Media Co.'s Plumbing Group of magazines - Plumbing & Mechanical, Supply House Times, PM Engineer - focused on “Hiring, Retention and Training” with an in-depth examination by experts from within the PHCP industry, along with a sprinkling of fresh ideas by outsiders.

A series of one-hour programs were fitted in between a couple of two-hour programs of particular interest. Leading off and keynoting the session was Ricardo González, founder and CEO of Bilingual America, who mesmerized the audience with his incisive reckoning of how to deal with our nation's increasingly Hispanic labor force.

A major premise of Gonzalez' presentation was the mistake made by many American employers of appointing Latinos to supervise Latinos on the basis of language alone. Employers fail to understand that the primary loyalty of such supervisors will be to the employees working for them rather than the company.

Another highlight of the conference was a “Women in Plumbing” panel featuring prominent women from various segments of the plumbing industry discussing the opportunities and obstacles presented to their gender in a male-dominated industry, and how to overcome the latter.

“Innovative Thinking 2006” featured 10 other speakers with particular expertise in the realm of hiring, retention and training. Watch for our upcoming August issue to get a complete roundup of seminars.