This is part two of our two-part series where we'll continue our conversation about plumbing resiliency with Dave Viola, CEO of IAPMO, Billy Smith, executive director and CEO of ASPE, and Kerry Stackpole, executive director and CEO of PMI.
If you missed part one, we suggest you go back and listen to that episode before continuing here.
Viola has more than 30 years’ experience as an international executive with an emphasis on water, resilience, safety and efficiency. He took over as IAPMO's chief executive officer on Jan. 1 after serving as chief operating officer for more than six years. He has been with IAPMO since 2007. Prior to joining IAPMO, he served as the technical director for PMI, where he oversaw education, code and product standard development, product certification, and water efficiency.
To learn more about IAPMO, visit https://www.iapmo.org. Viola is also on LinkedIn and Twitter. He's happy to have listeners reach out at email@example.com.
Smith has served ASPE as the executive director and chief executive officer since Feb. 1, 2015. ASPE is an international organization for professionals skilled in the design, specification and inspection of plumbing systems. In 2012, Smith was bestowed the society's highest honor by being inducted into the college of fellows and received ASPE’s Distinguished Service Award. As executive director and CEO, he is responsible for the administration, management and financial operations of ASPE, as well as implementing the policies and procedures established by its board of directors. Smith continues to build and maintain relationships with other industry organizations to ensure that the public's health and safety are kept at the forefront of legislation and regulations.
To learn more about ASPE, visit https://www.aspe.org. ASPE also has Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, all of which are shown on ASPE’s website. Everyone is welcome to reach out to Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stackpole is executive director and CEO of PMI, a trade association for manufacturers providing 90% of plumbing fixtures and fittings in North America, and representing more than 150 different brands. Previously, he was an advanced lead for the Executive Office of the President of the United States in Washington, D.C. He is a certified association executive and Fellow of the American Society of Association Executives. Stackpole is a graduate of the United States Chamber of Commerce Institute of Organization Management and he earned a master's degree in education from Cambridge College.
To learn more about PMI, visit https://www.safeplumbing.org. You can find PMI on Twitter at @safeplumbing. Stackpole is always happy to respond to email and enjoys conversation. He can be reached at email@example.com.
To learn more about “The Authority Podcast” and to subscribe on your podcast app of choice, visit https://www.iapmo.org/theauthoritypodcast.
Christoph Lohr: Welcome to this week's episode of The Authority Podcast: Plumbing & Mechanical. This is part two of our two-part series where we'll continue our conversation about plumbing resiliency with Dave Viola, CEO of IAPMO, Billy Smith, executive director and CEO of ASPE, and Kerry Stackpole, executive director and CEO of PMI. I’m Christoph Lohr, your host, and I’m looking forward to continuing our conversation.
If you missed part one, I suggest you go back and listen to that episode before continuing here. Now let’s jump right into part two of my conversation with Dave, Billy, and Kerry.
To me, having been a licensed professional engineer in six states, including my home state here in Arizona, it's crazy to me to think that that's even an issue to have, or that there's even a process that's needed to have a plumbing engineering examination. And it's exciting to see that plumbing engineering, which is one of those many components, and manufacturing, the installer, the code official, inspector. I mean, there's all these entities underneath that plumbing umbrella that have their expertise. And to me, one of the biggest challenges when it came to elevating the entire plumbing engineering profession was getting an examination or a portion of an exam that is directed at plumbing engineering, especially with the incredible impact it has on public health and safety.
And it was a big challenge, you know, to kind of get over that 10-state limit. And, you know, I'm personally very happy. I think all of us on this call, I don't wanna speak for anybody, are happy about that because it's one of those challenges that now we as an industry have overcome.
And in any challenge, there's always opportunity as well. And, you know, we've talked a lot about some of the negatives out there. What are some of the biggest opportunities for plumbing? You know, some of the challenges that we're overcoming. Kerry, let me start with you. What is your sense as far as some of the biggest opportunities out there for the plumbing industry?
Stackpole: Well, you know, Dave hit on a really important point – we were talking about a system that's incredibly complex and there's lots of interest and lots of opportunity, I'll say, to do the right thing. But in many cases, sometimes our policy makers and our legislators don't quite understand the complexity that we've all been talking about this afternoon.
To me, I think one of the great opportunities is harmonizing state water efficiency standards. Because it's a way of creating a system that everyone can understand. You know, when I think about harmonizing water standards, I really think about Water Sense standards. The program put together between the EPA and the industry back in 2006. The products use less water, they meet a federal standard. They deliver a high performance. You know, when the program was first put into place or, a couple hundred fixtures met that 20% less water use standard. And now there's more than 30,000 different products in plumbing. And the idea that you have policymakers in different states who feel that pressure as they might in Arizona or in California, for example, and you know, the desire is to push the water levels down as low as they think is possible. Not realizing the impact that happens to the water system. When do you let water sit in pipes and so forth? So it's kind of interesting because it creates a real dilemma. Can manufacturers create 50 different products for 50 different states because they all want to have different standards?
Not really, it's not really very practical, but the good news is WaterSense products are certified. They're tested, they're high performance. So I think that's really a unique opportunity in our line of work. I think it's a place where there are more than enough products, more than enough opportunity to save water.
I think the program saved something on the order of 4.4 trillion gallons of water since, I guess 2006. And because you're saving water, as you know, you're also saving energy and a lot of times folks don't put those, that nexus together, but you know, consumers have saved about, I think it's $87 billion in water and energy costs as a result of the WaterSense program. So my gut is that that's a great, that's a really large opportunity for our industry.
Lohr: It's crazy to look at those numbers, Kerry, and think about the potential positive impact. I'm really glad you brought those up and you also made note of standards. And so, I guess I want to turn this question to Dave.
IAPMO being a code and standards organization, you know, what are you seeing as far as the biggest opportunities for plumbing?
Stackpole: Well, I feel like being a Chicago native, this was a slow pitch, a softball pitch to me after Kerry tipped it off. My work at PMI for nearly 10 years from the late nineties to mi-2000s, you know, we had water efficiency harmonization as one of the number one priorities.
And when I left PMI, that was one of the things that I thought IAPMO could really help resolve. So one of the first things I did when I came to IAPMO was developed the Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code supplement that was designed to basically set harmonized, uniformly-applied requirements for fixtures, fittings, and systems that use water within the built environment.
And then the green supplement evolved into IAPMO’s water efficiency and sanitation standard, otherwise known as We-Stand. And it's heavily reliant upon the WaterSense specifications that IAPMO, the Alliance for Water Efficiency and PMI worked so hard to make sure we're embraced and established and supported across the country.
So, yes, I agree wholeheartedly with Kerry that the continued harmonization and making sure that there's no rogue jurisdictions when it comes to drastic, dire, non-supported changes just to go after the almighty water savings, because there are consequences as we talked about with the complexity of the system.
So back to the bigger question with regard to what are the opportunities, Christoph. Industry partners coming together to collaborate, to keep confronting the growing list of challenges is one of the biggest opportunities. You know, PMI, ASPE, and IAPMO will need to continue leading the way like we have.
We've got a long history together of these three organizations doing really good things. And certainly, I can't forget about the Alliance for Water Efficiency also, but the work we've done with the federal and state policies to make sure that they're uniformly applied and they're reasonable, and they're actually doing what they're intended to be done. You know, the work we've done collaborating on the plumbing efficiency research coalition to deal with, you know, the impacts of reduced water and the drainage system. The Water Demand Calculator that I talked about before, you know, ASPE and IAPMO working together with the plumbing industry leadership coalition, and the emerging water technology symposium to bring the thought leaders together to address these very important issues on an annual basis. And then of course, all these organizations have teams of staff that continually work to improve construction codes and product and design standards to keep pace with everything, and then keep the professionals in our industry properly trained and credentialed to keep pace.
And the last of opportunity that I see is embracing the transformative innovative technologies. We're going to need to continue to embrace them as they're going to come out faster and faster, and they're going to need to be embraced to address the resiliency needs of our world. And so, we have to have nimble standards and code processes and conforming assessment schemes that really allow this transformative innovation system to do what it's intended to do.
Lohr: That's a really great point, Dave. You touched on it – the concept of smart plumbing or smart water systems and it's so spot on, Dave, because that's exactly what I feel like I've been seeing over the last two, three years, as a result of many of the concerns of waterborne pathogens. That whole concern of water safety that has come out. Billy, from an engineering standpoint, what is ASPE and its members, what are they seeing as far as smart plumbing and trying to, you know, seeing that as an opportunity for plumbing in essence, for the plumbing industry.
Smith: Great question, Christoph. And before I dive deeply into that, I wanted to touch on one of the earlier opportunities for plumbing that we were talking about, and that was the professional engineering initiative and how important that is, and to kind of expound on how important ASPE feels that is to our industry and continued growth. ASPE its own credentialing program, CPD, CPDT, and also the GPD.
And it's still important enough for us to spend valuable resources and time to try to get the plumbing component in the professional engineering exam. And that plays right along with everything that Kerry and Dave is sharing about all of the smart water and the opportunities that we have to … from the plumbing profession to continue to take advantage of taking care of our resources. And Dave mentioned the green plumbing area for IAPMO in that having grown into the We-Stand and ASPE wholeheartedly supports all of the work in our industry on that component. So much so that I'm still very involved with IAPMO in that, sitting as the current chair of the We-Stand, and seeing the importance of that and how passionate the industry is about that – the WeStand. And also the IWSH Foundation and supporting that around the world and different opportunities and ASPE supported that in the past with Cindy. Some of our members on some of those long-distance opportunities around the world where people are suffering for a lack of sanitation and water and proper hygiene.
So it's such a valuable component and the members of ASPE. The plumbing engineer profession is extremely focused on continuing to focus on designs that we can bring about for our facilities to better use the water resources that we have and protect health and safety and continue working with PMI or manufacturers who are so important, bringing about specific products through their designs, and then going through the testing and recertification of those products to maintain proper installations and making sure those products are gonna work efficiently using even less of our valuable resource in water. And all of us just need to take the opportunity to understand that our water resource isn't endless.
A lot of people think it's an infinite resource. It's just not, we all understand that. And we need to educate the entire industry on that on a global basis. So water conservation and water treatment and distribution remains the focus of every plumbing engineer relative to new and renovated facilities using modern technology.
And Christoph, you talked about “what are the plumbing engineers looking at?” And that's it. The modern technology that's come about and continues to be developed in our marketplace to help each of us assist in monitoring and controlling commercial, domestic water applications. The advanced design capabilities via water management technologies are the focus of today's plumbing engineer to successfully manage our resources.
Lohr: That's such an astute point, Billy. And you mentioned that we don't have this infinite resource. And it makes me think, I think it was the World Plumbing Council conference that was earlier this year or at the tail end of last year, how one of the quotes in there that I remember stuck out was “if plumbing is essential, why don't we act like it?”
I guess, Dave, let me throw that your way. Because I remember you and I had a conversation about this and you sensed my frustration with that. And especially having been a plumbing engineer for a long while, and you had some thoughts on why if plumbing is essential – especially when water resources are being taxed – why we don't act like it? I guess, if plumbing is essential, why don't we act like it? Dave?
Viola: It's a very interesting question, Christoph. You know, in my work with the World Plumbing Council and IAPMO being global, we have access to what goes on all around the world. So the question that we're talking about here is really a Western world issue.
You know, plumbing is essential, but it's taken for granted in the Western world because water is plentiful. It goes down the drain and it's forgotten about. So it's just another utility. Bring in some electricity, bring in some fuel gas, bring in some water, and let the waste go out. And it's forgotten about. I believe though, this is a changing issue because water scarcity is no longer just an issue for the continent of Africa or, Asian countries – where they've got population demands that are squeezing their water ,and water quality issues prevent them from allowing it to be used for drinking water.
It's now becoming a Western problem. Our aging infrastructure, which is a theme throughout this discussion today, is requiring us to invest again in water quality and infrastructure. And climate change is affecting things on a couple levels. You know, the amount of water we have to pull from – the aquifers are drying up, surface waters are drying up, and so the quality of water is also changing as that water is reduced. The amount of contaminants that are in that reducing supply needs to be addressed. And in some cases can't be eliminated. So there really is a need for all of us to be paying attention to it and appreciating plumbing that that is essential.
So without belaboring this anymore, we've touched on this many different ways – the complexity of plumbing and the importance of plumbing for proper sanitation and proper hygiene. And water is life, so it's crucial for health and wellbeing. People are now starting to wake up and understand that it's important.
So as industry leaders, PMI, ASPE and IAPMO, we're going to have to continue to educate the industry, the decision makers, policy makers at every level of government, and to the public at large to embrace this need to understand plumbing as essential and increase the speed of change. It's going to change, but unfortunately the change is probably gonna be occurring because of disasters or loss of water as being reliable or safe. And that's what's going to wake people up. But hopefully we can do that as an industry and get there before there's something cataclysmic that occurs.
Lohr: Yeah, that's a great point, Dave. you know, the disasters that are out there just over the last year are – there just seems to have been a plethora of concerns that have come out for any number of reasons. And one of them that really came out was interesting to me. It was early in 2020, obviously, the COVID pandemic that has occurred on a global scale. And Kerry touched on the tariffs and some of the impact on supply chain issues but speaking specifically of COVID and from a plumbing standpoint. Billy, I think that from a from a technical standpoint, COVID really had a big impact on the plumbing industry. Not necessarily because of COVID being found in water systems, but because of this issue of stagnant water in vacant buildings only. Maybe you could touch a little bit on that idea – how COVID kind of showed us that plumbing is essential, and some of the concerns.
Smith: Absolutely. Thank you, Christoph. And, you know, ASPE has a plethora of free information on our website and our education portal. And some of that information is COVID specific. The COVID impact on plumbing systems and future designs as well. Guidelines for best practices for water quality post COVID. And we have multiple webinars that people can draw from that have been developed because of COVID and what that's doing to our plumbing industry especially and what I'm speaking at relative to the design portion. And we talked a little bit about this earlier in the podcast in general – people think water is simple, but it's highly complicated, and I'm not sure that we completely know at this moment the extent and the effect of the COVID-19 crisis and all of the unintended consequences of how this crisis has specifically affected plumbing systems. And Christoph, you've been a very integral component in putting some of these presentations together for ASPE and we appreciate you doing that. And this alone will force the plumbing engineer to broaden their respective thinking from the beginning of the design process all the way through to completion and installation thereof. The use of more hands-free components that Kerry spoke of early on. It's going to be a big item and our manufacturers are doing a great job of developing those components for the plumbing engineer to design around, which will also help reduce the contamination opportunities and new designs, and even retrofitting current facilities.
And we talked about the stagnant water situation from the beginning, a little more than a year ago when COVID hit. And the pandemic caused a lot of overall shut down of the large facilities around the country – in the world. We're talking about large facilities just sitting stagnant – no water moving through the piping systems and the things that this will allow. The harboring and growth of waterborne diseases and the opportunity for Legionella to continue to grow. And we're hopeful that many of the facilities were properly reopened. Recommissioned if you will. That's been a large focus in our industry about making sure that we're getting the systems properly flushed. And the engineering community has been very helpful in that, going back as well to the engineer of record on many of the facilities that sat so stagnant and helping the inspectors and city officials and government officials make sure that all of those facilities were being opened properly and would be a safe harbor for the occupants and people that operated in those facilities. What about an increased focus that we need on that stagnant water and facilities, such as hotels, that, you know, zero activity for months on top of months and – the proper maintenance of that to get it reopened.
Those are things that forced us to not just focus on existing buildings, but how best to design new facilities in preparation for, as you stated earlier, Christoph – we may only be educated many times because of catastrophes that we see, but we need to do a better job of planning in advance. Thinking out of the box. What's next? What's next? What do we need to be prepared for? And designing our products, having the engineer design the entire facility. What's next in the codes and standards world? It's all one big team that we need to work together to make sure that we are not just working on what we see now, but what's coming.
What's the next thing? Even now with the COVID-19 pandemic showing signs of slowing down, we still have more and more dormant buildings with stagnant water systems. And the risk is still very raw relative to Legionella growth, corrosion, and contaminants within the plumbing systems. And we need to continue focusing on what we need to do each and every day.
Moving forward for future pandemics, disasters, catastrophes, and to continue protecting public health and safety.
Lohr: That's a great point, Billy. COVID has really pushed a lot of industry organizations and various professionals to work together. And that makes me think of two of the documents that – one that's already out and one that's coming out – that were done in collaboration between AWWA and IAPMO. The responding to stagnant water and buildings document that was released I believe last year in the summer. And then the soon-to-be-released Manual of Best Practices for the Safe Closure and Reopening of Buildings Water Supplies. And that one has ASPE members on it as well. And members from a host of different backgrounds, including manufacturer input as well. You know, so your point, Billy, about that collaboration that's needed is so key and it was interesting during COVID.
Having a foot on the MEP construction side, right at the beginning of the pandemic, and then having another foot on the water side of the industry, as it were, to see this dichotomy of where the construction and MEP world tended to focus on air and electricity, and to a lesser degree, identifying, uh, they really didn't identify any concerns with plumbing. Well, even with retrofitting healthcare facilities and then, you know, having my foot in the water side and seeing all of my water industry contacts screaming at the top of their lungs that stagnant water and buildings, we need to be concerned about this. This can be a potentially huge hazard and there's this, I think one of those, one of those reasons, maybe why we don't act like it, is this – there's this need to network and educate the other side of the aisle, as it were – those that we interact with a lot. But I don't want to focus too much on COVID because there was a host of other disasters that we had this last year. Kerry, I think when we were talking ahead of this podcast here today, you had mentioned a couple of them to me.
I think you had mentioned something about Northern California and some of the concerns there. Can you speak on that? Because again, we focus on COVID, but there's been a host of other concerns that we've had here and other things and maybe you want to touch on that. And then also kind of address that question of “if plumbing is essential, why don't we act like it?”
Stackpole: It's a great question. I mean, it's hard to imagine a more exciting and dynamic time to be part of the plumbing industry, truthfully. I mean, one of the main weapons we have in the fight against COVID-19 is the simple act of washing your hands. And having a clean sanitation and, the good news is I think largely federal and state governments have begun to recognize the essential nature of plumbing as part of this – the pandemic sort of illuminated this question for a lot of people, I think, but to your earlier question, and this really speaks to something Dave talked about in terms of climate change, when you think about the shifts that are going on in the world, you can't help but think about things like the Tubbs wildfire, for example, in Santa Rosa, California, back in October 2017, that damaged over 500 water system service lines or the larger Camp Fire, which pretty much burned Paradise, California to the ground. It damaged about 10,000 service lines, destroyed 172 miles of water infrastructure. And in both of those cases, post disaster, benzene and a whole host of volatile organic compounds were found in the water system. And the great challenge, and the thing that is still a mystery to a lot of people is, there's no definitive explanation of how or why that happened.
And so, you know, from our standpoint as an industry, we have to kind of continue down this road and realize that there's – as much as we know about the system, and we know about the complexity, there are still some things that have not been fully investigated or fully discovered about all that happens in these new frontiers that we face.
Some are driven by climate change, others driven by natural disasters. I certainly think, hurricane Katrina, which was a long a while back, is another good example of where we didn't totally understand what the risks were and some of the systems that were in place. And if you look at the bigger picture, you know, we average about 850 water main breaks a day in North America. We are experiencing an aged infrastructure that really does need our urgent attention. And I think climate change, wildfires, and natural disasters have helped illuminate that. And certainly the, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought that to the forefront. And I hope, from an information and an action perspective, our policy makers and legislative leaders will jump to this.
Lohr: That's a great point, Kerry. Let me follow up with you here. You mentioned the water mains and I think we talk a lot about bills that come out through the federal government and addressing some of the water mains, but what – how else can jurisdictions, inspectors, and policymakers help improve plumbing resiliency?
What are some of the other steps that they can take?
Stackpole: Yeah, I think the focus that our industry has brought ASPE, IAPMO and PMI and other groups is really the focus on health and safety in the water system. I think that's critical. I mean, PMI manufacturers have been working diligently and working in concert with code production to minimize risks in plumbing, products, fixtures, and fittings, and so forth.
You know, I think about things like lead service line replacement. While there's discussion of reducing the lead in fixtures, which our manufacturers are deeply committed to, there's still a lot of lead pipe and lead solder in the ground. And, you know, as a society and as a community, we certainly need to make sure that replacing lead service lines is a priority.
I think it's something on order of 50-75% of the lead found in water supplies originates from lead service lines and, you know, also the associated solder and in premise plumbing. So I think that's an area of focus, you know, we have to focus on. Making sure that society, individuals, kids, families are safe and are able to access clean drinking water and have adequate plumbing facilities.
And that's where the focus needs to be. And it really is on outcomes, not on which switch or which component or which piece, but rather, you know … let's resolve and eliminate the risks that we know of now. And that way we can have that forward focus. You know, there's that old saying, Christoph, about “there's a reason why the rear view mirror on your car is so small and the windshield is so big.” Because we need to be looking forward. And I think that since we know what some of the hazards are, let's get those fixed and keep moving.
Lohr: I like that. I like that a lot, Kerry. And actually, I'm going to have to take that one with me. I may have to quote you on that in one of my future seminars, but that’s a good point about looking forward. And in many ways, you know, my sense is that codes and standards are those sort of devices that also help us look forward in the plumbing industry. And I guess, let me turn this question over to Dave. How can jurisdictions and inspectors and policymakers help improve plumbing resiliency?
Viola: Well, the theme of today, at least from my perspective is adopting up-to-date plumbing codes and standards that really address progressive provisions, like the Uniform Plumbing Code and We-Stand that optimize water use, that prioritize the plumbing challenges and the public health and safety issues of the day. And deemphasize marketing opportunities to focus on priorities, like coordinating with other codes being the biggest and most important issue. And then the second thing that sticks with me is we need to require the proper skills and training from the professionals that are in our industry – licensing of plumbers and engineers. You know, we talk about resiliency and climate change and natural disasters, creating rash decisions. Well, in Texas, there was a strong movement to get rid of licensing of plumbers because there wasn't enough plumbers available to fix the plumbing systems after hurricane Katrina.
So think about that for a second. As plumbing is getting more complex using alternate water systems like gray water and black water and rainwater in buildings and all these things we're dealing with, making things more complex, policymakers are trying to address needing more plumbers by getting rid of licensing.
So that's not the solution. And we got to make sure that we have enough plumbers and engineers and inspectors, and get them credentialed up. And that's how we address the improving resiliency, you know, getting those updated codes and standards and proper skills and training.
Lohr: I think that's a great point, Dave. And education in my mind is such a huge part of that. I'm glad you touched on that because I think sometimes, as Kerry had just mentioned too, that jurisdictions, inspectors and policymakers – a lot of times they're going to focus on trying to flip that one switch. And really, it's a longer-term commitment that's needed and education plays a huge part in my mind.
And how you described it, I think you would agree that it plays such a huge part in that role, – in that capacity. And making sure not just now, but in the future, that we are addressing plumbing resiliency in a holistic manner. And I guess, let me touch base with Billy. What are your thoughts on that? You know, because I imagine, especially with ASPE being very education focused, there's probably some considerations in there for policymakers that they should be thinking about when it comes to that education component.
Smith: Absolutely, Christoph. Education is the core benefit that ASPE brings to its membership. And by that and us working hand in hand with our industry partners, that education helps everyone in every single thing that they do each and every day. So education from everyone, policy makers, inspectors, all the jurisdictions, all of our industry partners. And having said that ASPE is focused on education to our members and the industry. We would also welcome any opportunity to have policy makers, anyone from the jurisdictions, inspectors, to take part in any of our annual and in many cases, monthly, education opportunities to bring new and innovative ideas.
And I want to touch on something, a word Kerry used in his talk on this question, and it just stuck with me, and it was the word “focus.” And, you know, each of us have to focus each and every day to do things right. And I'm not sure that the analogy I want you to share with you we'll measure up to the Kerry has brought to us about the rear view mirror and the windshield, which was outstanding, so thank you for doing that. As long as it's not copyrighted, I think we all should use that. My late father-in-law taught me a tremendous lesson many years ago. And one of his favorite comments was this: “If you don't have time to do it right now, why do you have time to do it over?”
And so that really stuck with me. And I think that is such a valuable component to what we have learned recently through catastrophes and the things brought to us about items we can change, items we can improve, items we can do better each and every day. And another thought process – if you are focused on the “right now,” if you are standing here right now and not planning to move forward, you're being passed by someone. So I use those couple of analogies to bring it back to what the plumbing engineer and its design profession must do. And it's so important to the design of overall systems based around more than just one engineer's thoughts. It has to be a collaborative effort for all engineers, all of our industry partners, codes and standards development, regulatory activities, to bring about new thoughts, new ways. And then in time, the plumbing engineer profession adapts through that, through new product, and also new codes and standards brought about that they designed around it's. As I mentioned earlier, it's a team effort and not to continue using cliches, but we're only as strong as our weakest link. It's important that each of us focus to be strong links to what we do each and every day.
Lohr: You know, and it's on that topic of focus, I think that's where we'll kind of wrap things up here.
But when you talk about focus, it's something that reminds me of a famous Peter Drucker quote in his book on management from 1974. Before we wrap up, I want to get one or two top lessons from each of you, for our listeners coming away from this. But the quote that I'm thinking of is, “In a knowledge-based economy, that is an economy which is directly based on the production, distribution, and use of knowledge and information – that requires knowledge-based workers. And that knowledge work is effective if it is only highly specialized.” And he gives an example of what makes a brain surgeon effective is that he or she is highly specialized in brain surgery, but by the same token, that brain surgeon couldn't repair damaged knee and would probably be helpless if confronted with a tropical parasite in the blood.
Peter Drucker goes on to say, “This is true for all knowledge work. Generalists are of limited use in a knowledge economy. In fact, they are only productive if they themselves become specialists in managing knowledge and knowledge workers. The knowledge needed in any activity has become highly specialized and it is therefore increasingly expensive and difficult to maintain enough critical mass for every major task in an enterprise. And because knowledge rapidly deteriorates unless it is used constantly, maintaining within an organization and activity that is used only intermittently guarantees incompetence.”
And this to me, that that quote I came across a couple of years ago, it just hits on so much of what we talked about here today, which is that specialization and focus is such a key component to plumbing and the plumbing industry. And I think whether it's IAPMO, whether it's ASPE, whether it's PMI – each of those organizations has a focus on the plumbing industry. There are no other consideration – you know, not to say there's no other considerations, but the focus and specialization that those three organizations bring – I know I've seen firsthand as an engineer and then having done technical sales during my career, the key components that it brings into the industry. So, I think that point, Billy, you made about focus is so key. So as we wrap up, I guess let's start with Billy. What is your top one or two lessons that you think our audience members, our listeners, should take away from this fantastic podcast here today?
Smith: That's a great question, Christoph. First and foremost, collaboration. It can't just be about the plumbing engineer, from an ASPE perspective. It's got to be about the industry. It's got to be about our partners, what works best for each of us. Working with policy makers, continuing to advance our codes and standards, which in turn helps our manufacturers.
And in the umbrella of all of that, if the plumbing engineering profession takes what we have through our codes and standards and manufacturers and designs better systems, more efficient systems, safer systems, not just for the things that are out there right now, or what's yet to come. Being prepared. I think preparedness and collaboration would be two really important lessons to learn from today.
Being prepared and working together.
Lohr: Awesome. Kerry, let me turn it over to you. What are one or two top lessons that our listeners should take away?
Stackpole: One I thinkis, if you're in the plumbing industry, whether you're a plumbing engineer, you're an inspector, you're a member of the manufacturing team, a designer, understand that your role is protecting the health and safety of your fellow citizens every day. When you go to work, it's not just getting something done on your desktop, but in the big picture, the reality is your talents and your skills are making a huge difference to society. And understand that most folks do not appreciate or understand the complexity, but that is part and parcel of your job and your work.
And then I would say anything you can do to encourage your elected leaders to support infrastructure development and the continued, I'll say replacement, repair and replacement, of our water infrastructure would be an amazing thing.
Lohr: Awesome. Thanks, Kerry. And last, but certainly not least, Dave. I'll give you the final word here.
What do you think are the top one or two lessons for our listeners here?
Viola: Thanks, Christoph. Well, I won't repeat or build on – oh, I guess I'll build on what Kerry and Billy said, and it's unique IAPMO, and we laid it out today and it's quite obvious – plumbing is increasingly complex and potentially dangerous.
So it absolutely predicates the need for skilled plumbing professionals and resilient codes and standards that keep pace while maintaining the high health and safety standards that are necessary. So those are kind of my two key takeaways.
Lohr: Awesome. Thanks, Dave. Well, I'm sure we have some listeners that would love to learn more about your organizations or would maybe even want to get in touch with you personally.
We'll go in the same order of top lessons. Billy, what's the best way for folks to get in touch with you, whether it's social media or email, and then what's the best way for them to get in touch with your organization.
We have also have Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook accounts, and all of those are shown on ASPE’s website, www.ASPE.org.
Lohr: Awesome. Kerry, same for you. How do folks get in touch with you or your organization?
Stackpole: Well, we take our mission to deliver safe plumbing seriously, so you can find us www.safeplumbing.org and on Twitter @safeplumbing.
And of course we’re on LinkedIn and Facebook, Plumbing Manufacturers International, as well. I'm always happy to respond to email and enjoy conversation. So I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lohr: Great. And Dave, how can folks reach out to you and or IAPMO?
Viola: IAPMO has a website, www.IAPMO.org. I would also encourage folks to take a peek at our foundation, IWSH, which is www.iwsh.org. It's where we do our philanthropic and charity work, supporting water and sanitation for those that need the most around the world. I'm certainly on LinkedIn and Twitter. And of course email. I'm happy to have someone reach out to me email@example.com.
Happy to entertain any questions or a follow up discussion.
Lohr: Thanks so much, Dave. And just to make sure that our listeners can reach out to me as well. You can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn. On Twitter. It's @lohrthoughts, or you can find me on LinkedIn, Christoph Lohr, PE, and we'd love to connect with you there on behalf of The Authority Podcast: Plumbing and Mechanical.
Just want to say a really big thank you to Dave, Billy, and Kerry. You guys took a big chunk out of your day to be here, and I have learned a lot from all three of you gentlemen. I really appreciate you sharing your insights, your experience, and your expertise. And I imagine our listeners have a lot to chew on now coming off of this podcast.
So, thank you all.