The Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH) hosted a successful and entertaining three-day conference after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the association and its members met in Jasper, Alta. from June 19 to 21 at the Fairmont Jasper Lodge.
Approximately 300 members and 94 new delegates and companions took part in the many events and educational seminars featured as part of CIPH’s annual business conference. As part of the educational sessions, attendees listened to Ian Heller, founder and chief strategist for Distribution Strategy Group, speak about the e-commerce market and how CIPH companies could adapt to the growing online market. He used Amazon as a placeholder for the online marketplace but stated that there is a surplus of companies that could have been used in this conversation. “It is in no one’s interest in this room to sell on Amazon, in my opinion,” stated Heller. “Be careful who you trust when it comes to marketplaces.”
Heller also moderated a workshop, allowing for attendees to build on the discussion from his previous presentation. During the workshop, attendees were separated into groups to follow along on a guided number of questions. At the end, members were asked to nominate one person to summarize their findings.
Effective communication between the wholesaler and tradesperson was one takeaway that kept coming up during the workshop. This is one level of service not found within the online market. The wholesaler will be able to provide products, design, and technical support for the tradesperson from the beginning to the end of the project. At the end of the day, wholesalers are able to solve those complex problems online marketplaces just aren’t able to, he explained.
Value added services
A strong online presence can also help the wholesaler chain, as has been seen throughout the pandemic, stated Heller. “The NBA gives the player a point for an assist, but wholesalers don’t give the website the same point for the assist,” said Heller. “You hear the misnomer that millennials all want to be online. But that’s just not true. They want help just as much as those ahead of them did.”
One suggestion the audience heard was for executives to reach out to 100 or so customers over the phone, as it might have been a while since they have interacted with the customer. Another suggestion was to add a “quote cart” to their website. This would allow for the tradesperson to gather the products required for the job and determine the final cost before hitting the checkout button.
Getting down to business
At the conference, CIPH’s 89th annual general meeting was also held, which saw Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of CIPH, Bill Hooper, regional sales manager of Uponor and chair of CIPH, and Andrew Dyck, vice president at Barclay Sales Ltd and honorary vice chair of CIPH, present the annual business report, treasurer’s report, and the election of the 2022/2023 board of directors.
Matt Robinson, vice president of Showroom Group Robinson, was announced as the 75th chair of the board for CIPH. He will be taking the reins over from Hooper. In the ceremonial passing of the gauntlet, Hooper called Robinson a real gentleman and was pleased to be handing the keys over to him.
With Robinson as chair of the board, this marks the second time in CIPH history where a father and son have both served as chair, with Ross Robinson acting as chair in 2003/2004. Robinson unveiled the association’s five main objectives for the next three years, which included a clean water initiative, industry awareness campaign, an initiative to promote CIPH’s government and industry relations goal statement, refine the goal statement for the Plumbing and Mechanical Advisory Council (PMAC), and develop an industry training hub.
Several awards were handed out to members and CIPH member companies. Nancy Barden, director of member relations for CIPH, was recognized for 30 years of work with the association. Uponor received the second Gold Leaf award, which honours a CIPH Member (manufacturer/master distributor) that best supports the efforts of sales agencies. Paul Stevenson, formerly of Emco, received the Award of Merit, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the advancement of the hydronics industry in Canada.
CIPH Honorary Life Membership Awards were presented to Joe Senese, formerly with Groupe Deschênes Inc, Bill Palamar, Weil-McLain Canada Sale Inc, and Harald Prell, formerly with Viessmann Manufacturing Company Inc. The CIPH Lifetime Service Award was presented to Fred Albert, Bibby-Ste-Croix, and Joe Desjardins, Boone Plumbing and Heating Supply Inc. The award recognizes 40 or more years in the plumbing and heating industry. Suppa also received recognition for his 20th year as CIPH president.
The very first CIPH Women of Distinction Award was presented to Barbara O’Reilly, Rheem Canada Ltd, which recognizes nominees who have demonstrated a commitment to mentoring, developing, and promoting women in the plumbing and heating industry.
Fun in full swing
During the event, there was plenty of opportunities for members and companions to participate in networking events. New delegates gathered outside the lodge on June 19 (the night before the conference officially kicked off). The traditional “poker hand” event saw new delegates interacting with board members and competing for the best poker hand. A welcome dinner was held in the Beauvert room following the new delegates’ event.
Attendees learned all about the history of Jasper at breakfast on June 19 through a presentation given by Karen Byers, manager with Jasper-Yellowhead Museum and Archives. In the afternoon, members were able to participate in several optional activities, which included a Skyram tour, fly fishing, or a golf tournament. The first evening ended with a Country western BBQ dinner at Trefoil Lake.
The second day of the conference fell on National Indigenous Peoples Day, and as such, the breakfast reception featured a presentation by Matricia Bauer. She spoke about her experiences growing up as an Indigenous woman and how the industry could do more to decolonize the workplace. She highlighted the importance of giving Indigenous peoples support and time to work through the generational trauma that they have experienced, and gave tips on how the workplace could decolonize.
One example she gave was to alter the structure of traditional business meeting practices; rather than meeting at a boardroom table, she suggested that meetings could take place outdoors and in a circle. This would allow for everyone to feel more involved in the discussion.
On June 21, attendees heard an entertaining and hilarious presentation by Graham Sherman, owner of Tool Shed Brewing. He had the crowd laughing along as he told his story from when he started his brewing company in his family’s toolshed, all the way to the present time and operating a business during a global pandemic.
The hydronics industry also met for a luncheon hosted by the Canadian Hydronics Council. Sidney Manning, provincial plumbing and gas administrator with Municipal Affairs for the government of Alberta, gave a presentation on the regulatory application of the CSA B214 installation code for hydronic heating systems.
Optional events for June 21 included white water rafting, fly fishing, or a guided motorcycle tour through the Rockies. The conference ended with the annual Chairman’s Banquet, where members were dressed to the nines, enjoyed a dinner, and entertainment by Paparazzi: Opera on the Rocks!
CIPH’s next annual business conference will be held at the Delta St. John’s in Newfoundland and will run June 18-20, 2023.