Staying Connected

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One of the best ways to stay connected with other plumbers in your area and learn about what’s going on in the plumbing industry is to join a national or local trade association of plumbers. Regional chapters hold regular meetings to discuss new products, legislation in the plumbing industry, and other news that can affect your business.

Networking
The benefits of becoming a member in an organization such as The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) or The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA) are numerous. First of all, it’s great to know who your competition is and what they are doing with their business in terms of technology, marketing, and basic business practices. Networking with your peers allows you to learn from their success and failures, providing you with invaluable business knowledge.

Training
Secondly, organizations such as PHCC and UA often offer training opportunities for you or new employees to refresh old skills or learn new ones. Scholarships and apprentice training programs are sometimes offered as a part of membership benefits for joining an organization.

Legislation Impact
There truly is strength in numbers. Local chapters of plumbers also have the advantage of voicing a collective opinion about plumbing legislation. Having a group of plumbers with representatives that are able to approach industry leaders and government regulators ensures that the voices of individual plumbers are heard. The PHCC also has an upcoming legislative conference at the end of April to show plumbers how to lobby members in Congress to get the important issues in the industry brought to the government’s attention.

Newsletters
As a member of an association, you’ll also be included as a recipient of newsletters, magazines and promotional materials. Newsletters are packed with information about new plumbing products and techniques, news within the industry, and laws that will affect your business. These materials usually have money-saving as well, such as discounted products and discounted supplies and educational products.

Trade Shows & Conventions
Associations use their websites and newsletters to announce when upcoming conventions and trade shows will be held. Attending trade shows is a great way to meet plumbers outside of your local chapter. Networking with other plumbers allows you to discuss trends in the industry and compare notes on things like products and business practices. Trade shows also feature new products that you might find useful in running your business and serving your customers.

Also, most trade shows will hold educational sessions, providing you with yet another benefit to broaden your knowledge of plumbing. For example, PHCC’s annual convention offers Learning Labs to expand your knowledge and skill-set alongside business-building resources and a chance to network with your peers on a national level. If you can’t make this convention, there are a number of other trade shows throughout the country this year that will showcase new tools and new technology that can benefit your business. Some of the biggest trade shows this year include the Plumbing & Hydronics Expo in Baltimore, MD and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago, IL.

Member Only Websites
As a member of a national or local association, you also gain access to the organization’s website and all of the tools that the association has to offer. Costs for joining a national association are usually based on a sliding scale depending on how much profit your business makes, ranging from around $600/year and up. These member dues give you the advantage of using all of the resources an organization has at their fingertips to help you excel. You’ll often have the opportunity to view training programs and classes specifically geared towards safety, technical issues and business skills to help you better your business. Associations’ websites will also usually have forums and other communication tools to help you connect with other plumbers and market your business. Additionally, associations’ websites can provide you with current codes and safety information for reference, and information about labor law issues and other legal matters.

Belonging to a national or local association that is recognized as a leader in the industry gives your business credibility and numerous benefits. Continuing to learn about new practices and techniques through both associations’ members-only websites and your peers at chapter meetings and trade shows, you are keeping yourself ahead of the game.