PCA – Off to A Great Start

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					PCA – Off to A Great Start
Many of you have been there for the birth of a company, but few have been there for the birth of an
association. The two have a lot in common and the ingredients are much the same – passion for an idea, a
little start-up capitol, lawyers, paperwork for the government, and a leap of faith. The industry responded, and
we exceeded our membership goals for 2007!

March (2007) saw our first official meeting, featuring updates from the City of Milwaukee, a presentation
from Attorney Dave Turiciano (Cook & Franke, SC) on liens/collections, and a roundtable discussion on
industry issues.

In May, we welcomed a presentation from Bill Stanton (Viega) along with an update from Ada Duffey
(Milwaukee Lead & Asbestos Information Center) on lead and asbestos, two important concerns for plumbing
contractors, especially those doing residential service/remodel.

In August, we were recognized by the PHCC – Wisconsin Association as the State’s local association chapter
covering Southeastern Wisconsin.

In September, we took our meeting to Cabela’s in Richfield. Jim Murray (Jim Murray, Inc.) provided a
program on pumps, followed by an industry update and a presentation on black powder rifles from the
Cabela’s staff.

In October, we held a special event to introduce a partnership with West Bend Mutual Insurance on a program
that can save plumbing contractors big money on their insurance – using a portion of the savings to invest in
membership in PCA. After the presentation, we cheered on the Packers to a Monday night victory.

In November, we put the finishing touches on our new logo. More than anything, we are proud of the tag line
that is part of that logo – for plumbers, by plumbers. PCA has gotten off to a great start by staying true to that
mission. We have and will continue to talk about the things that are of interest to plumbers and plumbing
contractors, bringing value through those interactions.
New Insurance Benefit – West Bend Mutual Insurance

Earlier this year, PCA agreed to a partnership with West Bend Mutual Insurance on a comprehensive business
insurance program designed specifically for plumbing contactors. The combination of coverages and
discounts makes this an excellent option for your business insurance needs.

West Bend Mutual Insurance is the leader in the state when it comes to writing plumbing contractors and the
risks they face. Working through their network of brokers/agencies, the PCA-endorsed program is available
throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. PCA has two associate members – Integrated Risk Solutions, Inc. and
Starr Group that can assist you with this program as well.

On top of a competitive rate and customized coverages, your PCA member-only discount will more than
offset your investment in membership in PCA. Ask about it when your insurance is renewing.

Upcoming Meetings

We’re putting the finishing touches on our meeting schedule for 2008. Our March meeting will be held on
Monday, March 31st at Country Springs Hotel. Join us for a lively discussion on the many issues facing the
plumbing industry. This is a great chance to have your voice heard on the future of our industry – a future
that is full of opportunity and full of threats. When we say that PCA is for plumbers, by plumbers, this is
exactly the sort of meeting that makes that a reality.

Additional meetings are being planned for May, July, September, and November.

Web Page
PCA has launched its new website at It’s still a work in progress, but you’ll find
information there about PCA, including upcoming meetings.
Associate Members
PCA wishes to thank the following Associate members for their support of our association and our industry!

Crown Hardware & Plumbing Supply
Ferguson Enterprises
Fist Supply
FleetMatics USA
Heider & Bott
Integrated Risk Solutions
Jensen Equipment Company
Jim Murray, Inc.
Midwest Sales & Marketing
Milwaukee Lead/Asbestos Information Center
Mohawk, Inc.
Plumbers Local 75
Rheem Water Heaters
The Starr Group
Viega North America
W.A. Roosevelt Company
West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

Interesting Facts
Asked how many company vehicles they have, contractors reported the following:

1 vehicle     24 percent
2 vehicles    29 percent
3 vehicles    17 percent
4 vehicles    8 percent
>5 vehicles   23 percent

According to a recent study, it is estimated that about 3,600 fires were caused each year by water heaters,
resulting in an average of 10 deaths, 140 injuries, and nearly $60 million in property damage. There are
several ways to reduce the number of such fires, among them, using qualified plumbers and plumbing
contractors. The PHCC – Wisconsin Association has a “Be Wise” brochure that explains the benefits of using
a qualified plumbing contractor. If you are interested in seeing one of the “Be Wise” brochures, contact the
PCA office.
The Latest On Codes

It is looking as though air admittance valves will soon have their approval suspended (as opposed to
withdrawn). There have been numerous issues with the vents sticking in the open position, leading to sewer
gas discharge, but there have also been problems with the vents sticking in the closed position. There have
also been problems associated with positive and negative pressures in the buildings and the sewer lines.
Contractors should receive notice on the effective date of the proposed suspension so as to allow them to
modify their designs/bids prior to the effective date of the suspension.

The Plumbing Advisory Code Council discussed waterless urinals at its last meeting and agreed that where
they are installed, piping will still be required behind the wall to accommodate any change from waterless to
traditional urinals at some future point. Trapless traps were discussed at the Code Council meeting as well.
The Department of Commerce has indicated that it will not approve the product for use in Wisconsin. Water
supply piping to water conditioning equipment may be reduced when the code is updated.

More rigorous requirements for fire sprinkler systems in multi-family housing units became part of the code
recently. As a result, there will be an expansion of the allowable uses of multi-purpose fire sprinkler systems
which are installed by licensed plumbers.

The definition of plumbing had not been reviewed in some time. As the Code Council reviewed the language,
it became clear that it was in need of updating. After discussing the necessary changes, industry
representatives, including PHCC – Wisconsin Association and Plumbers Local 75, put into motion the
legislative processes necessary to make the updates. Legislation to update the definition of plumbing has been
drafted and introduced this session, but it is unlikely to pass due to time constraints.
Government Relations – Local

The City of Milwaukee has its “Green Team” and now Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties are getting into
sustainable, eco-friendly practices as well. The “Green Print” in Milwaukee and the Sustainability Initiative
in Waukesha are designed to examine county operations and to look for way to save money and energy
through its business practices. Construction will be affected by many of these changes, especially if these
local units of government model the state’s guidelines for sustainable projects, which cover everything from
building locating, to materials, to construction material recycling.

The City of Milwaukee now requires that all prime contractors pay their subs within ten days of being paid by
the City. The initiative was implemented in response to a study of the City’s EBE (emerging business
enterprise) program, which suggested that slow payment adversely affects EBEs doing business in the City.
Slow pay affects everyone, everywhere, but it’s good to see some recognition for this at City Hall.

The City is reconsidering its contract participation program again. Currently, the City recognizes a race-
neutral program for EBEs. If a disparity study is conducted, it could be used to return the City to a race-based
participation program. Many of the race-based programs from years ago were shelved in response to a U.S.
Supreme Court decision and were replaced by race-neutral measures. Race-based set-aside programs or
preference programs are allowable if a racial disparity can be demonstrated.

In addition, the City is looking into a system that would require or favor local contractors doing City projects.
Almost half of the work done under City contracts is done by contractors who are based in Waukesha County.
Many think that number is too high. Several contractors have spoken with the City on this issue, noting that
land is often unavailable at reasonable costs and that property taxes are too high for the business to stay in the
Government Relations - State

On the legislative front, a bill is advancing to require greater scrutiny of transactions involving scrap metals.
Given the amount of copper that is lifted from jobsites, this may be good news for our industry.

A bill to redefine plumbing in the state statutes was introduced March 5 and will have a committee hearing in
the Senate on March 10. PHCC-WI, Plumbers Local 75, and the Department of Commerce worked on the bill
at length. While it may not pas this session, the draft and the hearing will help us be prepared for quick
passage in the 2009/2010 legislative session.

Electricians will be licensed now that Governor Doyle has signed this legislation. One of the issues for the
plumbing industry was the incidental electrical work that is part of the trade – wiring disposals, water heaters,
etc. Under the bill, any connection back to the first junction could be performed by the plumber/contractor.
Anything requiring wiring all the way back to a breaker would require the services of an electrician.

Heat and frost insulators are also trying to become licensed. In this case, there have been significant changes
to the bill to address industry concerns, but there is still some contention over the “incidental” insulation of
piping. The bill exempts repairs and only covers commercial construction, but there may still be instances
where it should not be necessary to call in another contractor to do work that has historically been done by the
plumbing trade. The installation of fire stopping materials was also removed from the bill. The bill passed
the Senate but is held up in an Assembly committee. It’s unclear as to whether it will have a hearing this

The rule on administrative forfeitures for license violations and the standards for installing tracer wire or other
equally effective means to locate non-metallic sewer/water laterals went into effect on March 1.

SB 289 will be sent to the Governor for his approval. The bill requires the installation of carbon monoxide
detectors in the basement, within 15 feet of sleeping areas, and in certain hallways and rooms. The bill
applies to "residential buildings," which sounds like a single or multi-family home, but is really referring to
public buildings used for sleeping and lodging (excepting nursing homes and hospitals). There's also a
requirement that sealed combustion units be inspected regularly by those who are certified HVAC
contractors. It's unclear from the bill how water heaters will be handled, but we anticipate this will be
addressed when Commerce promulgates rules. In the meantime, this could be a value-added service you
might provide to your customers who operate residential buildings and a continuing service for those certified
to inspect sealed combustion units.
A New Kind of Super Bowl
Toilets in Japan can check sugar levels in your urine and send the data to your PC and to your doctor.
Another can seal waste in bags for medical testing/sampling. And yet another, made of glass, packs its own
scrubbing bubbles, making it clean and saving water. The cost of these high-tech toilets ranges from $1,000
to more than $3,000.

Kicking the Bottle

Earlier this year, the mayor of San Francisco announced that the city would no longer pay for bottled water
where tap water was available. In his press release, he noted that supplying plastic bottles for water requires
more than 47 million barrels of oil a year and that even with recycling, the number of bottles in landfills each
year number in the billions. The bottled water marketers have convinced people that their products are better
than tap water. Much of the time, their product is nothing more than tap water. Critics of the bottled water
craze point out that even if there were a quality difference, the money spent on bottled water would be better
spent on improving the quality of other water supply systems and in-home treatment systems.

Automated Water Metering & “Blocked” Water Rates
The trend toward automated water metering continues. Municipalities see the benefits of automatic water
metering as being two-fold. First, they no longer need to read meters, as the information is electronically
transmitted. Second, they can monitor spikes in water usage that might suggest leaks or plumbing problems.
They may also be able to better monitor property owners that are violating any water use restrictions the
municipality may impose.

The City of Waukesha recently adopted a new rate structure for water. In most communities, rates are a
combination of the property owner’s share of fixed costs plus the actual cost of the water. When utilization
goes up, the cost per gallon for fixed costs go down, resulting in a lower cost for each additional gallon of
water. Waukesha changed that by increasing costs for greater and greater volumes of water. In effect, the
City is trying to encourage conservation so as to get the lowest cost per gallon possible. Look for other cities
to follow or to use other pricing approaches in the future. These costs may prompt property owners to look at
water conservation in new ways.

Speaking of water conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a water
conservation program called WaterSense. In its simplest terms, WaterSense is to water conservation what
EnergyStar is to electric/natural gas conservation. But WaterSense is more. Unlike EnergyStar, WaterSense
requires independent verification that the product is 20 percent or more efficient than the current industry
standards. In addition, the product must perform. Low-flow toilets that require three flushes won’t make it
when it comes to the WaterSense label.

Look for water utilities to soon offer rebates to customers who purchase products with the WaterSense label
and who have those products installed by a licensed plumbing contractor.

Plumbing Industry Week
Mark your calendar for April 27-May 3 for National Plumbing Industry Week. This is an opportunity for you
to piggyback on local, state, and national PR efforts as we educate the public (and our legislators) on the
contributions made by the plumbing industry. As part of the national celebration, April 27-May 3 has been
declared Plumbing Industry Week in Wisconsin in a proclamation issued by Governor Doyle.
PHCC Convention
Overcoming the season’s worst snowstorm, members, vendors and guests filled the Country Springs Hotel in
Waukesha during the PHCC – Wisconsin Association Annual Convention and Expo. The Expo was sold out
well in advance of the Convention and the overflow spilled out into the foyer of the Grand Ballroom. The
various code, industry, and business programs were well received and the comments on the hotel and food
were all outstanding. Look for information soon about the 2009 Convention, which will likely be held in the
Wisconsin Dells.

PVC Under “Fire”
In an article in Wisconsin Builder magazine, PVC piping comes under attack from the U.S. Green Building
Council’s Technical Science Advisory Committee and the Healthy Building Network. The groups suggest
that PVC pipe is bad for humans and bad for the environment.

One of the study areas was a life cycle study that looked at the final disposition of PVC products. Noting that
much of the product ends up in landfills, they state, “There are 8,000 (landfill fires) per year in this country.
That is a very serious source of dioxin (a carcinogen). Landfill fires may be the single biggest source of
dioxin emissions, and PVC may be the primary cause of that.” (emphasis added)

As it relates specifically to plumbing, the study reports that PVC is the best alternative for drain, waste, and
vent pipes, but its performance must be balanced against its rating as the worst product for cancer-related

This is an emerging issue that will need to be monitored at the local, state, and national levels.

Unlicensed Plumber - Check It Out!
Is there any such thing as an “unlicensed plumber?” Unfortunately, we all know there are people who are
plumbing without a license, but are they “unlicensed plumbers?” Seems to us that the only way to be a
“plumber” in this state is to be licensed. Maybe it’s time for the industry to come up with a new term for
those who threaten public health and safety….

Whatever you call the unlicensed, a contractor notified the PCA about a recent situation he’d encountered.
Seems an employee did not have a current plumbing license. At first blush, you might think that the
discussion that followed was about a newly-hired employee that slipped through the cracks. Not so. The
employee was a long-time employee and nobody – the company, the local union, the local inspectors – would
have thought that this person would be among the unlicensed. He was licensed at one time, he’d never had a
break in service, and he was familiar to everyone inside and outside the company.

Another valuable benefit of PCA is the ability to learn from one another. The morale of this story is to check
the licenses of your mechanics. You can check their licenses online at the Department of Commerce website
and you can do random checks from time to time. Mechanics should have their licenses available for
inspectors and should be expected to have their licenses with them while working.
Journeyman Examinations

The test question above does not appear on the journey-level exam, but you have to love the creativity of the

The journey-level exam is no walk in the park it would seem. Statistics releases last year for tests taken in
2006 indicate that the average score on part one of the test (interior, waste, administrative) was an 88. On part
two of the test (POWTS, stormwater, waste/vent) the average score was a 69. Proctors for the test report that
most finish part one with plenty of time to spare. Part two requires all of the allotted time. Keep in mind that
a passing score is 70 percent.

There are many ideas as to how to address the poor performance on the test. Some trades (electrical,
insulation) that are seeking to be licensed have eliminated a testing requirement for those completing an
apprenticeship. The plumbing industry has made it clear that they do not wish to follow that pattern.

The State Plumbing Apprenticeship Advisory Committee has recommended that all apprentices be required to
take a review course prior to taking the exam. Many local committees believe the course should be available,
but should not be required.

Others have suggested reworking the test or creating a separate designation for those who are doing POWTS
work (a big problem area on the test for those who weren’t exposed to it in the field). Stay tuned….

News of another trench fatality in December should remind us all of the danger of working underground. The
best way to prevent an accident is through training and the use of appropriate safety equipment. The
temptation to jump in and jump out of a trench to save a few seconds of time could be a fatal decision for you
or one of your employees. The Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association offers excellent programs on
Competent Person Training for Trenching and Excavation. If you are interested in knowing about the
programs they have scheduled, call the PCA office or call WUCA at (414) 778-1050.

Construction fatalities rose 2.8 percent in 2006, to 1,226 nation-wide. The largest increases in construction
fatalities occurred among specialty trades contractors, including plumbing. Roofing work continues to be the
most dangerous of the building trades.

Now is a good time to look at your jobsite and office employment posters to make certain everything is
current. There have been changes to the minimum wage, for instance, that are reflected in updated posters.

You can get information about jobsite posters from the following sites:


IAPMO Chapter Formed

A Wisconsin chapter of IAPMO – the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials has been
formed. IAPMO is responsible for producing one of several national plumbing codes. Although there is no
intention of changing the Wisconsin uniform plumbing code at this time, several states have adopted one of
the national model codes. Most of the associations representing the plumbing industry prefer the IAPMO
codes because the approval process brings contractors and mechanics to the table in addition to code officials,
often leading to codes that better reflect “real world” applications.

ConsensusDocs + AIA Changes
Look for new contract documents to start appearing in the industry. The AIA recently released its revised
construction contracts, including the GC-Subcontractor document. Most of the national construction
associations have withdrawn their support of the AIA documents in favor of the new ConsensusDocs. The
ConsensusDocs also have the endorsement of several of the national construction user groups because the
contracts are designed to reduce some of the “friction” costs in the construction delivery system, resulting in
better projects that cost owners less. It remains to be seen whether the ConsensusDocs will take hold,
particularly when architects have the most direct relationship with the owners.


Mike Schmitz (Cox Plumbing) was elected to serve as the area’s director to PHCC – National Association.
Mike was also recently honored by PHCC-WI as its Contractor of the Year.

Scott Madsen (Burton-Anderson) who was honored by PHCC-WI as its Industry Partner of the Year.

IRS Releases New Mileage Rates
The Internal Revenue Service standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck is 50.5
cents per mile for business miles driven, 2 cents more than the 2007 rate. The standard mileage rate will be 19
cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes and 14 cents per mile driven in service to a charitable

We thank all of the PCA contractor and associate members for their support in 2007! The growth of our
association depends upon our ability to reach out to other contractors to encourage them to become part of the
group as well.

There’s a simple multiplier effect in these things. Start with 25 members and have each one of them bring in
just one new member a year, and repeat that for just two more years, and the association will grow to more
than 200 members. That’s added strength and resources that only enhance the value of you membership.

There’s no better way to bring new members in than to show them what we do. Invite a guest to a meeting,
forward this newsletter. Arrange a meeting with staff or one of the officers. It only takes a few minutes. Just
one a year….

Applications for Contractor and Associate memberships are attached for your use.
PCA Officers/Directors - 2008
President              Jeff Kuhn
                       S & K Pump & Plumbing

Vice President         Dan Callies
                       Oak Creek Plumbing
                       Oak Creek

Sec/Treasurer          Mike Schmitz
                       Cox Plumbing

Director               Kurt Schuster
                       Kurt Schuster Plumbing

Director               Ken Wyderka
                       Heiden Plumbing
                       Milwaukee, WI

Executive Director     Jeffrey J. Beiriger
                       Cook & Franke, SC
                       Milwaukee, WI

Contact Us
For more information about any of the articles in this newsletter, or if there is any way that we can be of
service to you, please be sure to contact our office at:

       660 East Mason Street
       Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202-3877
       P - (414) 227-1230
       F – (414) 227-1290
                          Plumbing Contractors Association of Southeastern Wisconsin
                                      PHCC – Southeastern Wisconsin
                                660 East Mason Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202
                                Phone - (414) 227-1230 Fax - (414) 227-1290


Firm Name                                                                                     ___

Street Address                                                                                ___

P.O. Box                                                                                      ___

City                                                       State                ZIP           ___

Phone (      ) ______                                      Fax (     )                        ___

Web __________________________________

Recommended by:                                                    ________                   ____

Individual(s) authorized to represent the firm:

Name                                Title                                  E-Mail

________________________                                                            _______________

                                             _________                                        _____

Type of Business                                                                    ______________

Date                                _____                     ________________
                                    Authorized Signature

                    Annual dues of $400 (or pro-rated portion thereof) enclosed.
                      Return with dues investment to PCA at address above.
                          Plumbing Contractors Association of Southeastern Wisconsin
                                      PHCC – Southeastern Wisconsin
                                660 East Mason Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202
                                Phone - (414) 227-1230 Fax - (414) 227-1290


Firm Name

Street Address

P.O. Box

City                                                   State                    ZIP

Phone (      ) ______                                  Fax (         )     ________________

Web __________________________________

Recommended by:                                                    ________

Individual(s) authorized to represent the firm:

Name                                Title                                  E-Mail

________________________                                                            _______


Type of Business                                                           ________________

Date ___________

Authorized Signature        _____                  __________

                            Title   _____________________

                    Annual dues of $300 (or pro-rated portion thereof) enclosed.
                      Return with dues investment to PCA at address above.

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