By Simon Blake
Perfect weather greeted 311 delegates and companions at the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating Annual Business Conference (ABC 2018), held at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in beautiful Whistler, B.C. June 17-19. That number exceeded the group’s goal of 275, remarked conference chairman Andrew Dyck of Barclay Sales, Port Coquitlam, B.C. A welcome dinner kicked off three busy days of meetings and recreation for participants.
CIPH is known for bringing some of the top speakers from both within and outside the industry to its events and this year was no exception.
Wholesale distribution expert Michael Marks of Indian River Consulting Group, Indialantic, Florida, said the “digital revolution” may have a dramatic effect on the industry over the next five years as customer expectations change.
Digital “changes everything,” he said, noting that Uber, “the biggest taxi company in the world, owns no cabs… The cost of sellers and buyers to find each other is zero.” He added that “Amazon is a customer sourcing model; they don’t sell stuff…. Digital has shifted (selling) from a push model to a pull model.”
“In this industry, we have the deeply rooted model that we sell, we push, and we push.” It’s a model that the industry is afraid to change because distributors are worried that sales people will leave and take customers with them.
Things like building information modelling (BIM) are already having an effect. The banks are pushing it, he added, because construction productivity has not improved like it has in other sectors. “Increasingly, you are going to have to be BIM compliant. Distributors who can help contractors with that are going to have an advantage.”
“The good news in your industry is that you are not at the edge of a cliff,” he said. “Focus on how your customers want to buy. I would be spending a lot of time and money looking at what my customers are doing. You cannot get customer insight from your sales force,” he added. He suggested it would be worthwhile for senior distribution executives to get together with customers, not to sell, but to have a “thoughtful conversation” about their needs and where they see their business going.
The right people
Hiring the right people is critical too, said corporate adviser Dr. John Izzo, based in Vancouver. Engaged people work harder, he noted. “If you’ve got engaged people, you’ve got up to 40 percent more people.” A clear leadership philosophy is a must and people need to know from day one what you expect, he added.
And when you’re the leader, you can’t pass the buck. “You can’t change anything but yourself, so you have to take 100 percent responsibility… People who focus on what they can control are more successful.”
John Furlong, president and CEO of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Organizing Committee, gave a passionate and sometimes gut-wrenching talk about the difficulties the organization faced in bringing the Olympics to Whistler, not least of which was a complete lack of snow as the Games approached. When all roadblocks had been overcome and the Games were finally underway, the elation quickly dissolved when luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered fatal injuries during a training run. “It was the worst phone call of my life,” said Furlong. “I was devastated and lost.” But the committee had to get past that quickly and “put our best Canadian foot forward.”
The first step was to take care of the young man’s family and ensure that their needs were met. The important thing is to “do the right thing in every situation, every time, no matter what it takes,” he added.
85 years of success
“Achieving 85 years of continuous success is no easy task,” remarked chairman Joe Senese as he welcomed delegates to the CIPH annual general meeting and acknowledged the founders of CIPH in 1933 for their vision and commitment.
“We’re standing on the shoulders of 85 years of boards that have made good decisions,” noted Allen Taylor, president of Taylor Pipe Supports in Burlington, Ont., who was elected 2018-19 chairman.
Andrew Dyck was elected as first vice-chairman. Gail Kaufman, VP eBusiness and marketing, Wolseley Canada, Burlington, Ont. became second vice chairman, and Bill Hooper, Uponor, Quispamsis, N.B., is third vice-chairman. Senese, vice-president, operations for Groupe Deschênes Inc., Toronto, becomes treasurer/immediate past chairman.
President and general manager Ralph Suppa was recognized for 30 years of service to CIPH.
Over the course of the event, the chairmen of the various CIPH committees updated members on codes and standards, training, hydronics and other industry issues
The event included numerous recreational activities including two opportunities to play golf, a mine tour, “zip trekking,” and an aboriginal cultural museum visit.