On The Road: Plumbing Manufacturers International Conference 2015

The 2015 Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) Conference took place October 26-29, at Hotel Contessa on the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. PMI gathered together members, partners, and industry experts to share updates on a variety of topics ranging from regulatory and legislative issues to communications best practices.

That Monday evening, I was on-hand for the opening welcome reception and sponsor exhibition. Over cocktails and light refreshments, attendees were able to catch up with friends and colleagues in a relaxed environment, all while checking out some of the latest offerings from the industry. Plumbing Engineer and PHC News were among this year’s sponsors, and I welcomed attendees to our table to check out the latest magazine issue and talk editorial for the coming year.

Tuesday morning, the formal conference began with a session on “Advocacy and Government.” Jerry Desmond, of Desmond & Desmond LLC, started the session with a look at happenings on the West Coast. He discussed hot topics such as appliance efficiency, fixture flow rates, and consumer product safety. Next, Stephanie Salmon, of Potomac Government Relations, closed out the session with a look at federal affairs. She shared updates on work from WaterSense and the EPA, as well as made a plug for World Water Week taking place in April 2016.

Next, Dr. Marc Edwards led the presentation, “Achieving Water Conservation Without Compromising Public Health.” Dr. Edwards is an environmental engineer, biophysicist and professor at Virginia Tech. In his presentation, he explained that exposure to fecal matter is no longer a leading cause of water borne disease. He said that today, Legionella, Mycobacterium Avium, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, and Naegleria Fowleri are being looked at as the key contributors to such disease. To conclude, Dr. Edwards addressed the recent scare in Flint, Mich., where it was discovered that the city’s water supply was causing elevated levels of lead in residents, including children. He was part of the research that took place as a result of resident complaints about the smell and taste of the water. Paul Struman, of Montana State University, presented after Dr. Edwards, giving a detailed scientific look at biofilm growth, scale, antimicrobial treatment and more.

In the afternoon, the “Outreach and Communications” session started with a presentation by Laura Marlow, senior director of business development and strategic partnerships at CMD Group, and Derek Guffey, senior director of enterprise solutions at CMD Group. Both shared industry concerns that the company gathered from its research in 2015, including talent acquisition and engagement, licensure, training, and leadership. The company is looking to help our industry better break down, assess, understand, and utilize big data in the future.

My last stop at the conference was the panel discussion that I participated on. The panel, “Social Media and the Digital Communications Strategies,” was moderated by Scott McDonald, vice president of marketing at Fluidmaster Inc., and included: Martha Sprague, social media manager at the National Association of Manufacturing; John Mesenbrink, president of Mechanical Hub; Wes Baerga, digital marketing strategist and client development at Vue Point Creative; Beth Livingston, brand manager of WaterSense at the Environmental Protection Agency; and Yvonne Orgill, chief executive of Bath Manufacturers Association. It was a pleasure bouncing ideas back and forward on topics such as ROI, leads, and platform selection. Thanks again for having me, PMI!

Photo Credit: Plumbing Manufacturers International

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