The Karl Neupert,Education Foundation Trustees recently commissioned a national labor study to determine both the short-term and long-term state of labor in the PHCP & PVF industry. 

The purpose of the study is to determine how many people are currently employed in the three segments of our industry: distribution, manufacturing and manufacturers representatives. More importantly, the study seeks to identify how many people will leave our industry over the next 10 years through retirement or other outside opportunities. The ASA Education Foundation commissioned GMP Research to conduct the survey during the summer and interviewed 1,850 distributor, manufacturer and rep firms, and also used other industry data from sources such as the U.S. Department
of Labor.  

The findings show the industry still is relatively robust with more than 205,000 people currently employed and building their careers. Out of this 205,000, 3/4 are male and only 1/4 female.

Many firms already have absorbed employee losses due to the economic downturn during the 2009-2011 timeframe, and while they have operated with lean staffing, many are slowly beginning to ramp up their labor force, but still not to pre-2009 levels.  Demand is beginning to heat up for good labor as distributors and manufacturers look to expand.  But demand for good people is not just coming from within our industry. Other similar distribution industries are beginning to compete for our employees with many of these other industries offering higher wages to attract good talent. The study shows less than 4% of the labor force is between 22-24 years of age, a number that is of concern to ASA leadership.

Anyone attending industry meetings could predict our industry would begin to experience increased labor losses just from witnessing the age of attendees participating in meetings. However, the study has opened many eyes in leadership positions. Within the industry, as the study reports, an astounding 25% of our labor force is leaving in the next 10 years. This is a number that is higher than anticipated. All three channel segments are not immune to the future trend. Of most concern is the heavy loss of intellectual knowledge and relationship currency that will leave the industry in rapid numbers. We can expect to lose roughly 50,000 employees in the next decade.


What ASA is Doing

ASA and its leadership team are investing resources to protect our members as this labor trend escalates. Conducting a labor study to benchmark where the industry is with respect to labor is the first step. Focusing greater resources toward reaching students, transitioning military and women is well underway with more than $50,000 already allocated in 2015 to create the materials that members need to attend career days in high schools, colleges and even military bases.

ASA’s website now has vital information about career opportunities that exist in our industry and is becoming a portal that takes job seekers to ASA-member websites. A major effort is beginning as we engage the thousands of schools and students across America to give our industry serious consideration for career opportunities. We anticipate the traffic through our portal will rapidly expand as students and transitioning military personnel hear about the great careers our members have to offer.

In addition to reaching out to our nation’s schools and creating demand for career-day opportunities, we also are asking our members not to wait for us. We are asking our members to contact the schools in their local markets and set up their own career days. Armed with the materials ASA has developed, our members look forward to talking to thousands of potential new employees for our industry.


Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman Chaffetz has been working on his version that the coalition has supported for a variety of reasons. To begin, it alleviates small businesses with the worry that they’d be liable for sales tax audits from the 50 states. They would not. The software providers (certified under this legislation) would be responsible for getting it right.

With the presidential elections gearing up, we expect minimal legislative accomplishments coming out much later than this fall. It is imperative that Congress pass this bill this summer, or at the end of the fiscal year, coincidentally when the moratorium on Internet use taxation expires as well. This is the perfect vehicle for sales tax fairness legislation to ride along on.


Women in Industry

A critical component will be to close that wide gap between men and women employed in our industry. The rapidly expanding ASA Women in Industry Division will be increasingly important in attracting female students to our industry as they will relate to the women actively pursuing careers in the PHCP and PVF industry.


ASA University

ASA University is another great tool that not only trains industry employees but is playing
a key role in showing young people the
career paths available at PHCP and PVF member companies.

ASAU clearly spells out the training path a young person can take from an entry level job in warehouse operations to one day becoming branch manager, as well as the education our members use to help advance their employees’ careers. Millennials won’t be content with taking an entry level job and waiting for their boss to advance their careers to the next level. They’ll need to see the career path clearly defined for them to pursue and ASA University is that career map that appeals to young people. Members utilizing ASA University as a core part of their employee development will have an advantage recruiting young millennials.


Craft Training

ASA is not just sensitive to the labor shortages we expect in the next 10 years, but is equally concerned about the significant shortages our contractor customers are facing and will continue to face in the future. This year, ASA is allocating resources to support the PHCC Plumbing & HVAC Apprentice National Contests, where winners of state plumbing apprentice competitions compete at Skills USA for the national title. These contests are important at the local level in highlighting careers in craft training — something extremely important to everyone in our
supply channel.


More Information

To learn more, including information about obtaining industry career-related materials, visit or contact Bill Erfort, member services manager, at or 630/467-0000, x 212.