Mistress of Ceremonies Ellen Rohr with Paul Martin, ASA Education Foundation.

Staff Report

The inaugural “Innovative Thinking” conference drew 80 participants to the lush resort of Lake Lanier Islands near Atlanta last June 12-13. Few were sorry they came. Sponsored by BNP Media Co.'s Plumbing Group of magazines -Plumbing & Mechanical, SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES,PM Engineer- the conference focused on “Hiring, Retention and Training” as the subject of in-depth examination by experts on these topics 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.

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.

The moderator was Ellen Rohr, a consultant and popular small business columnist withPlumbing & Mechanicalmagazine, as well as the former president of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. And with a large percentage of industry women in the audience, there were a lot of questions for the panelists.

Experts GALORE

“Innovative Thinking 2006” featured 10 other speakers with particular expertise in the hiring-retention-training topic - consultant Jesse Elliott talked about the cost of turnover;PMcolumnist Paul Ridilla gave tips on hiring and retention; Mike Mayberry, president of HVAC Agent and Plumbing Agent, expanded on his seven recruiting tips; Megan White, director of organizational development at Castle Supply, discussed her emerging leader program; Dr. Leslie Pagliari, assistant professor at East Carolina University, explained her efforts in recruiting young workers in distribution.

Jim Olsztynski, editor, SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES.
Dr. Gerry Kennedy, COO of the PHCC Educational Foundation; Paul Martin, executive vice president of the ASA Education Foundation; and our own SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES' Editor Jim Olsztynski presented product and installation training resources for the plumbing and heating industry. William Raymond, co-owner of Frank & Lindy lumbing & Heating, talked about retaining your greatest asset - your employees; andPMcolumnist Al Levi, president of Appleseed Business, gave attendees more ideas to find, train and keep the employees they have always wanted.

The ebullient personality and insights of “Mistress of Ceremonies” Ellen Rohr kept the program on schedule and contributed immensely to the enjoyment and educational value of the conference.

More coverage of the conference will be published in the September issue of SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES.