Q&A with Jim Kendzel, ASPE Executive Director
Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you hail from, and what path brought you to ASPE? Do you have any special interests or hobbies outside of the Society?
I was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health at Bowling Green State University and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Michigan.
I have spent my entire career focused on public health, with an emphasis on environmental health and safety. For more than 20 years, I worked for NSF International, a standards developer and product/systems certifier whose mission is focused on public and environmental issues. During my time with NSF, I was involved in the plumbing community through many diverse areas, including standards and code development, audits for plumbing system and component manufacturing facilities, and quality assurance and developing training programs.
After leaving NSF, I decided to gain experience in association management with the goal of ultimately leading an association or society focused on public health and safety. In fulfilling this objective, I gained experience by running associations such as the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, Battery Council International and others. During this time, I obtained certification as a Certified Association Executive (CAE).
When considering the executive director/CEO position at ASPE, I saw four opportunities for synergy and success in helping the ASPE board of directors lead the Society forward: (1) my love for and background in public/environmental health, (2) my experience in standards and code activities, (3) my experience in leading the preeminent U.S.-based accreditation program for personnel certification bodies (such as ASPE) and (4) my experience and validated knowledge in successfully running and growing associations. Fortunately, the ASPE board agreed and hired me.
As far as special interests and hobbies, my top priority is my wife, Barb, and our children and grandchildren. I am also a diehard Michigan Wolverines and Cleveland Browns football fan. My remaining recreational time is focused on reading, relaxing and exercise.
Can you talk about your time at ASPE so far? What were some of your impressions coming in? What were some surprises that you had along the way? What are your thoughts on where things are today and where they are going in the future?
When I first came to ASPE, I was concerned about the financial status of the Society and what I perceived as a need for “bridge building” with our chapters and other organizations serving the plumbing community. What I quickly learned is what a great team I had at ASPE headquarters and how eager they were to step up to the challenge of continuously improving ASPE and improving our services to the membership and the plumbing community.
In addition, I began to have heartfelt discussions with the leadership of our Society at the chapter level and our longstanding members as soon as coming on board with ASPE; what I found was a clear passion and love of the Society by members and the common interest and drive to ensure ASPE’s long-term success.
Combining a strong staff with members who are passionate about fulfilling the mission told me that ASPE will grow, and we will get through any obstacle put before us and continue to serve the plumbing community in a valuable manner.
How much emphasis are you putting on growing the ASPE membership base? Is there a special focus on any particular demographic? Are you working to bring more youth into the equation?
As with most professional societies, we experienced a drop in membership after 2008; however, we have reached a steady state in the last year. I am very pleased with our member retention rate, and I know many of my peers in the association world are jealous of our greater-than-95 percent retention.
The board has developed a strategy around membership growth based on one simple tenant: If you provide the community with what they need and continue to improve the value they receive as members, our membership will grow. This is why we have focused on improving our technical publications and educational programs, providing greater value to our members by offering members-only services such as our recently released Plumbing Systems Tables app, evaluating our pricing strategy to ensure our members receive significant discounts and, finally, providing increased support and resources to our chapters to help them provide services and greater value at the local level.
We are in the process of initiating a new outreach program to young engineers and designers to encourage their involvement in Society activities, as well as to attract new young members. I am pleased to say that we already have a significant number of young members, but I think we can do better. Toward that end, we are holding focus group conference calls with our young members to gain feedback on how we can serve them better. We also will be holding a breakfast meeting for young engineers at the upcoming ASPE Convention & Exposition in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we will discuss the results of the focus group discussions and start to develop clear objectives and action items on how to attract young engineers. They are the future of our Society and critical to our long-term sustainability.
In addition, I am very pleased with the strong support we receive from our Affiliate organizations (product manufacturers and service providers). Their financial and volunteer support at the Chapter and Society levels allow ASPE to be successful, and I cannot thank them enough.
Finally, I have come to realize that many of our members pay out of their own pockets for their dues and attendance at ASPE events and some of our members must take vacation days from work to attend events or participate in Society activities. Although this is one testament to the value of ASPE, it also indicates to me that our members’ employers may not have a clear understanding of the value ASPE can bring to their firms. Thus, we will be implementing outreach programs to engineering, architectural, and contracting firm principals to promote the value of ASPE and the importance of helping their employees belong and actively participate in the Society. In addition, and probably more importantly, we will be actively seeking feedback from company owners and principals on how ASPE can improve our value to both their employees and their firms.
What role does education play in your plans for ASPE? What are some of the programs you have going on currently, and what are some things that we can look forward to in the future?
One of our key strategic objectives is to advance the profession and help our members advance in their careers. Providing professional education and training programs and credentialing programs is crucial to meet this strategic objective. We offer monthly webinar programs that provide the most current information on key technologies and practices impacting the plumbing engineering and design community. The webinars are recorded and available for viewing online anytime following the live webinar.
We are also looking to provide more regional workshops, covering such topics as plumbing codes, rainwater harvesting, sustainability and water heating efficiency.
Of course, our cornerstone educational programs are provided at our Technical Symposium and Convention & Exposition, which are offered in alternating years. The seminars go into great technical depth and provide hands-on practice in many cases. I am really excited about our recent partnership with UCLA Extension to develop an online course for plumbing engineering. Registration numbers for the first class are excellent. In addition, we recently received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop, in partnership with the City College of San Francisco, an associate degree program for plumbing engineering and design and a credentialing program for plumbing design technicians.
We also are developing with IAPMO an exciting new certification program in green plumbing design, which we are launching at the 2012 Exposition. The Green Plumbing Design certification is intended is to introduce green plumbing theory and concepts to plumbing designers who hold the CPD or PE. To learn more about this new program, I encourage 2012 Exposition attendees to visit the ASPE Pavilion booth on the show floor.
In addition to education/training programs, we also are placing an emphasis on the need for research through the ASPE Research Foundation. We recently completed a research study cosponsored by IAPMO on roof drain design; the final report will be available at the ASPE Convention & Exposition. Julius Ballanco, PE, CPD, FASPE, president of the ASPE RF, will hold a technical seminar during the Convention to explain the results of the study. Data from the research is already driving model code changes. In addition, the ASPE RF has developed a research protocol to help us better understand the role that manual and electronic (hands-free) faucets may play in increased levels of biofilm growth. Once we have received sufficient funding for the project, we will move forward.
Do you envision any partnerships with other groups or associations now or in the future?
One of my philosophies is that societies that believe they can accomplish their missions and achieve long-term success by themselves will fail. Collaboration with other organizations is a critical tactic in the ASPE long-term strategy and a cornerstone of our future sustainability. I have spent a significant amount of my time with ASPE reaching out to other organizations, always looking for those opportunities to collaborate and partner that provide value to ASPE and our members. We have had significant success with our existing partner organizations. The following are just some examples:
• Membership discount rates with ICC
• Research testing and sponsorship with IAPMO
• Joint training and standards development with ARCSA
• Development of a joint plumbing dictionary with ASSE
We also have implemented signed partnership agreements with ABPA, PERC, and NSF International.
In addition to the above, we have joined the World Plumbing Council, which will enable us to work with plumbing organizations from around the world on plumbing issues and promote sound engineering practices.
I recently had the pleasure of working with my counterparts Russ Chaney at IAPMO and Barb Higgens at PMI to bring together leaders from more than 13 societies and associations serving the plumbing community at the inaugural meeting of the Plumbing Industry Leadership Council. I have high hopes that this coalition of leaders will continue to come together and provide a valued and strong voice in achieving the goals common to all of us.
It is my hope, as well as the hope of the ASPE board of directors, that we will continue to expand our relationships, especially with other engineering societies. I plan to reach out and build stronger relationships in the near future with organizations such as NSPE, NFPA, ASME and ASHRAE.
What are some of the trends, concerns or hot topics you’re hearing about from engineers and other members in the industry?
In discussions with our members and other plumbing industry professionals, I’ve found the following to be recurring themes:
• Continued and increased emphasis on water efficiency and the impact of water usage on energy conservation
• Development of professional credentialing programs for individuals in the plumbing industry, providing validation of the growing number of specialty areas
• Incorporation of the concept of “management systems” in building maintenance and upkeep to ensure that ongoing water and energy efficiencies are built into designs and maintained
• Need for increased understanding and respect for the value provided by plumbing engineers and designers in ensuring safe and healthy plumbing system designs
• Increased collaboration among societies and associations serving the plumbing community, resulting in a stronger and uniform voice advocating for sound plumbing design and uniform codes
Do you have any forecasts or predictions for 2013?
I am hearing from members that work is picking up, and that is good news. Although it does not seem that anyone has the ability to predict economic trends, I am hopeful that we will see an increase in work for plumbing engineers and designers in 2013. Our members should continually be checking our career center website for position openings as well as to post their resumes: This service is free to our membership.
As far as ASPE is concerned, I see nothing but increased success and growth in 2013. With the strong leadership of the ASPE board members, who have drawn up a strategic vision that will guide us into the future, and an ASPE staff that is passionate about implementing and achieving the objectives to reach that vision, I am confident that we will see many successes in 2013.
Let’s talk about the ASPE Convention & Exposition. What can attendees look forward to this year? What will make this show stand out? What are you most looking forward to?
I am extremely excited about this year’s Convention & Exposition. The staff has done an excellent job planning the event, and attendees can expect a very streamlined and enjoyable experience.
One of the most noteworthy features of this year’s event is our keynote speaker, Kyle Petty. He will be speaking before the Exposition opens on Monday, October 29, at the Charlotte Convention Center. We invite all attendees to join us for what should be a very inspirational speech.
This year we are offering two brand-new features. The first of these is the New Product Innovation Showcase, which will be held in the ASPE Pavilion on the show floor during the Exposition on October 29–30, where numerous manufacturers will be holding 15-minute demonstrations of their newest products. Second, as part of the technical education program, we are offering tours of Charlotte Pipe & Foundry. I’m pretty sure that all of the tour spots have already been reserved, but I encourage Convention attendees to check at our registration desk to see whether any spots have opened up to take part in this informational tour.
I want to remind everyone that the Exposition itself is free, so you can walk the show floor and visit with more than 300 plumbing product manufacturers for just the cost of travel.
I personally am looking forward to meeting as many ASPE members and other plumbing industry professionals as possible, so when you see me, please do not hesitate to introduce yourself!
Q&A with E. Niles Wilcox, President, Leonard Valve Co.
From its headquarters in Cranston, R.I., Leonard Valve Company has produced thermostatic mixing valves for more than 100 years. In that time, the company has grown and evolved while staying true to its founding principles. Plumbing Engineer had the opportunity to chat with E. Niles Wilcox, president of Leonard Valve since 2008. Wilcox has been with the company since 1974, and was vice president and general manager from 1991 to 2008. His father, Everett C. Wilcox, was president from 1953 to 1991. His brother, Gregory L. Wilcox, was president from 1991 to 2008, and still serves as chairman of the board. With his family playing such an integral role in the firm’s history, Wilcox was able to offer some perspective about where the company and the industry has been and is going.
Tell us a little about the history of Leonard Valve Company. We understand that the original inspiration came from founder Frederick C. Leonard’s love of a good shave.
Frederick C. Leonard came to Rhode Island from the Midwest in the first decade of the 1900s. He was a watchmaker, an astronomer and a licensed electrician. Upon arriving in Providence, legend has it that he was scalded when getting a hot shave at the local barbershop. He then decided to apply his talents to inventing a product to make hot water safe for the end user.
By 1912, he had set up shop in Providence, designing the first bi-metal thermostatic water mixing valves. He dedicated his talents to designing and manufacturing hot water mixing valves. Prior to that time, hot water was sent to the faucet directly from a steam boiler, with no control. His first mixing valves were installed at the Rhode Island State Hospitals. By 1913, he had installed more than 20 thermostatic valves. Early letters from the institutions attest to the safe performance of these products.
The Leonard Thermostat Mixing Valve Company was later incorporated in 1913. In 1930, the factory moved to its present location in Cranston, R.I.
How has the company changed over the years? In what ways has Leonard Valve worked to remain on the cutting edge while still remainng true to its core values?
For the first 30 years, prior to the outbreak of World War II, the company continually expanded the product line. They produced valves in ½-inch to 2-inch sizes. They concentrated on hospital applications but also were specified for hotels, YMCAs, schools and public baths. It must be remembered that showering was a new concept. Without tempering hot water there could be no shower.
The company survived the Great Depression and flourished until the beginning of World War II. During the war years, Leonard Valve was 100 percent dedicated to the war effort, which included making thermostatic mixing valves for U.S. army barracks. Following World War II, Leonard rededicated itself to providing ever-improving water temperature controls.
How is technology impacting the way you do business, both in terms of production and new product technology available in the marketplace?
Throughout this period, Leonard Valve never strayed from its original mission of providing safe water to the end user. Leonard Valve has strived to continually improve the product and has embraced cutting edge technology all along the way. Our design team uses the latest design software. We have continually invested in the newest CNC machinery that now allows 24-hour unmanned machine operations on several machining centers. We also embrace computerized Building Management Systems with our water temperature control systems.
Can you talk a little about your employees and the relationship the company has built with them?
Our median employment tenure on the manufacturing floor is over 21 years. Leonard Valve Company is small enough that there is a real intimate relationship with all of our employees. Decisions made at the highest level are always mindful of the impact on the employees. I think there is a trusting relationship, which may be rare in the 21st century. We run the company with old school values but new school technology. Many or most of our employees will have the opportunity to finish out a career with one company, as opposed to hopping around every few years.
Having toured your facility, we know that Leonard Valve puts a lot of emphasis on testing and quality assurance. Can you talk about that philosophy and describe your approach to testing?
At Leonard Valve we try to produce the best quality products that we can. We are mindful of the cost involved in correcting mistakes after the fact. We endeavor to produce zero defects. To try to meet that goal, we extensively test all of our products throughout design and manufacturing, well before shipment to the customer. We want to be true partners with the engineers, mechanical contractors and end users. To have the loyalty of the engineering community, we have become experts in water temperature control. We want the engineers to know that we “have their backs” and will never walk away from the difficult situations that may arise.
What are some of issues and hot topics facing the industry right now? What are some of the things on the minds of your customers?
Water conservation and other green initiatives are hot topics today. We are working to provide controls and systems that will operate with less water. We continually strive to lower our carbon footprint with less waste and more recycling of resources.
Are there any particular code or standards issues on your radar? How goes the transition to lead-free?
Our industry is guided primarily by ASSE standards. We are involved in standards working groups for all applicable standards in our industry. Lead-free compliance is a huge undertaking. We have committed significant engineering resources to transitioning all of our applicable product lines to lead-free compliance. We are well along in the process and we will be fully compliant prior to the January 2014 deadline.
Any predictions or forecasts for 2013 and beyond?
We look forward to 2013 being an exciting year of new products and continued innovation. At the ASPE Convention in Charlotte, we will take a break to celebrate our 100th birthday with the engineering community.
If Frederick C. Leonard could see Leonard Valve Company today, what do you think he would say?
My late father Everett C. Wilcox, who worked for Mr. Leonard for many years and later became president of Leonard Valve Company, would say that Mr. Leonard was a serious man of few words. But I think he would have been proud to see his legacy continuing for more than 100 years.
Q&A with Paul Knight, Director of Global Hot Water Markets, Armstrong International
Established in 1900, Armstrong International has built a reputation for providing single-source solutions for steam, air and hot water systems. With 112 years of history, the company has a long view of the industry’s past, present and future. We had the opportunity to discuss industry trends and issues with Paul Knight, Director of Global Hot Water Markets for Armstrong.
How is condensing boiler technology evolving into the space traditionally taken by steam water heaters? What reasons are there for this evolution?
Our observation would be that in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Chicago who operate a district steam service, it is becoming increasingly more expensive to buy the steam from the utility. The green initiatives, which continue to impact our industry, combined with historically low natural gas prices, make the newer condensing gas boilers for space heating more attractive to owners and developers. Adjacent to this paradigm shift is a move away from the traditional steam to water heaters for the domestic hot water (what we like to call people-washing water) within these buildings. With high temperature water already on hand, boiler water-to-domestic hot water plate and frame heat exchangers are surfacing in specifications at a significant pace.
How have advancements like digital technology, connectivity and building automation systems impacted the industry and the products you produce?
The advancement from analog to digital touches all of us every day in pretty much everything we do whether we notice it or not. Clearly in a building utility as important as the domestic hot water system it is a natural progression. The level of importance varies from building type to building type of course but in a facility which caters to the very young, the very old, the infirm or the injured, hot water system visibility, communication and safety is absolutely critical. This sounds like an oversimplification, but if the hot water is too hot we risk a scald injury, if the hot water is not hot enough we risk a bacterial incubation such as Legionella. We really need to pay attention here and there are solutions inherent within digital technology that are vital to the way we design, operate and apply our products, solutions and systems.
You’ve said that Thermostatic Mixing Valves are not designed for the application for which they are generally used. Can you explain and expand on that?
It is simple and uncontestable – Thermostatic Mixing Valves (TMV) are not designed to mix hot water with hot water yet in a continuously pumped recirculating domestic hot water system under zero demand that is exactly what they are asked to do. I love TMV’s; we supply as part of our product line and we have numerous very worthy competitors, some who have been in business for as long as we have and they make excellent high quality mixing valves. Placed ahead of a bank of lavatories in an airport, a series of shower columns in a school or on a therapeutic bathing tub in a nursing home they perform admirably. They get to mix hot water with cold water to deliver a third adjustable temperature somewhere in between. They are in a three-way “dead leg” application per their original intent, there is typically an acceptable inlet to outlet temperature differential (TMV’s rarely work well if either of the inlet supplies is too close to the set point) and it is easier to select the TMV or otherwise zone several of them to meet the minimum low flow requirements for each valve, which they all possess – some of those being quite significant. In those applications, TMV are great but get them out of the mechanical room because without installing a number of support components like manual throttling valves and temperature actuated switches (aqua stat) on pumps the TMV will almost assuredly creep the loop temperature up during periods of no demand.
The suggested accessory components associated with TMV’s can really create a system design conundrum. The aqua stat on the pump, for example, seems to be a recommendation in virtually every TMV suppliers’ installation schematic. Yet turning the pump off as a means of system temperature control is: 1.) not what pumps are designed to do and 2.) specifically compromises a Legionella incubation control advisory from OSHA and the new ASHRAE 188 standard. If you go to the OSHA website and do a Legionella “search,” you can locate the OSHA Technical Manual. Section V Controls C Domestic Hot Water Systems 3 Maintenance then item C. Who does the plumbing designer pay attention to, the manufacturer or OSHA? Typically the more stringent requirement should be followed.
What questions do codes and standards like ASSE 1017 and ASSE 1070 raise for Armstrong and for the industry in general? What should engineers and manufacturers be aware of? What are some of the points of dispute/debate?
I will get myself into trouble now. I really think that ASSE 1017, which is titled “Performance Requirements for Temperature Actuated Mixing Valves for Hot Water Distribution Systems,” serves no purpose. We spend a small fortune on product testing and certification maintenance inclusive of annual fee based audits in order to maintain a standard that does not test the product in a realistic application condition. Some of the most basic dated mechanical mixing valves can sail through 1017 because the requirements are so tepid. I do not think that the seal tells anybody anything.
Here is my point: ignoring heat traced dead leg designs for a moment, the ASSE 1017 test protocol still does not actually test a valve which is clearly destined for a re-circulating hot water system in an actual recirculation related test.
Mixing hot and cold water, where there is a wide differential between each of the incoming temperatures to achieve a third temperature somewhere in between is one thing, but mixing hot water with system return hot water to maintain a set point which is also hot water is significantly more difficult and requires a totally different approach and test protocol.
If the reason for the three-way dead leg test lies in the fact that most of the approved test locations do not have test rigs that could currently simulate re-circulation system heat loss, they need to add the capability. If that is simply not feasible, then I once suggested that ASSE consider an additional procedure in the current 3-way dead leg test.
If the standard would include a test which raised the inlet cold water temperature (which for most manufacturers is also how the re-circulated return re-enters the mixing valve) in 10-degree increments until the inlet CW/mixed return reaches a point where it is 10 degrees below mixing valve set point and recording the outlet set point variation at each interval. This would simulate a mixing valve in a system, which is under zero fixture demand "idling" mode with a reasonably typical 10-degree system radiant heat loss.
Plumbing systems can idle up to 80 percent of the time which by definition means that the current ASSE 1017 test addresses performance characteristics which the mixing valve may experience only 20 percent of the time.
Similarly I see issues with ASSE 1070. 1070 is titled “Performance Requirements for Water Temperature Limiting Devices” and it is creating all sorts of confusion. 1070 was adopted by the Uniform and International Plumbing Code and subsequently many states and local authorities have adopted 1070 as a function of adopting UPC/IPC.
IPC specifically references ASSE 1070 and follows with the term “public washrooms” and therein lies the issue. There is no definition of what a public washroom is. I would put forward that using a hospital as an example the men’s and ladies rooms resident on the public areas represent the public washrooms and the washrooms in the semi-private and fully private patient rooms are not. That was not the case at a large university children’s hospital in my home state a few years ago when a local plumbing code enforcement official insisted that the general public accessed the patient rooms during visiting hours and that qualified the lavatories as public and he wanted approximately 600 ASSE 1070 certified under sink TMVs installed in an already completed building. I lost track of the project and presume that clearer heads may have prevailed, but the debate continues.
The City of Pittsburgh, or more specifically the Allegheny County Board of Health Plumbing Department, are well known for their position on ASSE 1070. Their enforcement has been significant and one only has to chat with an area plumbing contractor or building operator about the maintenance issues that surround a building with hundreds of small inexpensive point-of-use TMV’s to develop an appreciation of the impact.
But the issues with 1070 enforcement might actually extend well beyond the purchase, installation and maintenance expense.
There are guidelines within the OSHA document I referenced earlier, which suggest a periodic system super heat and flush which includes elevating the hot water system to 158°F or above and then drawing that water through each point of use. Try that in a hospital where the ASSE 1070 code interpretation just landed 600 mixing valves at every sink! Without manually overriding every value, often requiring tools to do so, you cannot get a disinfecting temperature in the branch and fixture supply piping to each sink beyond the mixing valve.
There is digital technology available, which not only offers a 1070 solution for points of use in public washrooms but offers a programmable disinfection feature for those facilities seeking to follow guidelines resident within the referenced OSHA document along with similar suggestions from CDC and the New York Department of Mental Health.
How do factors like technology, common use, codes and standards vary between the U.S. and other parts of the world? How do those differences impact your business?
We are a global company with manufacturing locations in Canada, China, India and Belgium and sales offices in hundreds of locations worldwide so yes, by definition we must stay in tune with systems and standards on a global basis
Where do I start? The Safe Drinking Water Act, dubbed “Lead Free” in the U.S., does not have the same profile across the globe, although the EC is trying to agree on a uniform standard for valve materials. Perhaps the most significant issue we have to process outside of the U.S. is the point at which different countries choose to exert water temperature control. It is nearly universal that the hot water generation temperature is at or above 60°C/140°F for reasons of higher temperature water access (kitchens and laundries) and 60°C/140°F is considered a safe stagnant storage temperature to mitigate Legionella incubation.
60°C/140°F will scald you pretty quickly no matter what language you speak, so it is really a matter of where the different systems opt to insert the TMV. The broad brush would be that we tend to re-circulate at 120°F here in North America. Thus, we mix once in the mechanical room and then mix again at the point of use to blend to 105 – 110°F for user access either thermally (TMV), manually (mixing faucet/shower or two taps) or with a pressure balance shower valve.
Outside of North America there is a greater preponderance of 60°C/140°F recirculation temperature and then point of use TMV in the form of under sink mixers and thermostatic shower valves. The latter often significantly increasing the first cost and downstream maintenance expense.
Armstrong is required to deploy different marketing strategies and different product mixes accordingly but at the end of the day it all comes down to a common theme – we serve the customer best when we base our effort on intelligent system solutions.
On the hot water side, how have systems solutions been at the core to your business?
While Armstrong is an iconic name in the steam business, people seem to think that we are new to hot water. Nothing could be further from the truth. Steam has always been an integral heat transfer medium often used to generate hot water within industrial facilities, large institutions such as university campuses and major medical facilities, and in cities that operate a district steam service. We know hot water very well and brought our first fully commercial shell and tube steam/water heater to market in 1989. Since then we have expanded the steam/water heater range, added a direct fired 99.7 percent plus efficient industrial water heater with standard units with capacities up to 18M BTU and acquired a niche market gas fired high efficiency condensing commercial water heater. To compliment our hot water generation platform, we also market Rada Water Temperature Controls and a complete range of industrial (Emech Digital Control Valves) and institutional (The Brain) digital mixing valves.
Armstrong recently entered into a partnership with Marriott. Can you share a little about that?
Nothing makes us prouder or more secure in our belief that digital technology offers a superior design, installation, operation, maintenance and user personal hygiene experience than a global design standard adoption by one of the worlds iconic hospitality brands. Marriott did their homework and we do not take their belief in us or our system solutions lightly.
What new products or services will you be focused on at the ASPE show?
Our booth is called “Digital Hot Water Innovation” and that is what visitors will experience. The next generation digital recirculating valve, The Brain, has arrived. In concert with our technology partner Kohler-Mira in the UK we have enhanced the platform with the addition of DRV40 a smaller digital valve destined for smaller hot water systems such as nursing/assisted living, K-12 education, higher-ed dorms, etc.
We are also bringing digital technology to the point of use by launching Outlook also developed with Kohler-Mira. Outlook is a six-outlet digital group control valve with programmable delivery temperature and flow control, which is perfect installation in the aforementioned “public washroom” for installations where ASSE 1070 certification is desirable. Outlook is the solution I was referring to in my answer to your previous question about ASSE 1070.
Once a product set goes digital, the opportunities are enormous. At this year’s show in Charlotte, we will also be displaying steam/water and boiler water/water heaters that use The Brain for primary control; we call them Digital-Flo.
What are some things on the horizon? What do you see for the industry in 2013?
Lead free will continue to be impactful as Louisiana joins Maryland, California and Vermont ahead of the entire country requiring lead free products in the domestic hot water system on 1/4/14. The cost of plumbing system construction will elevate significantly as a result. In my humble opinion, with regard to Thermostatic Mixing Valves controlling hot water, it seems like a lot of time, money and effort to protect people who brush their teeth with hot water, drink their own bathwater or choose to make coffee, tea or warm food using water from the hot water system. It is a little ironic that the legislation is focused on the faucets, valves and water supply components, yet the existing water infrastructure in the U.S. consists of public water mains with lead pipes, cast iron pipes with lead and oakum joints and existing copper plumbing with 50/50 lead solder. But the faucets and valves connected to these systems must be virtually lead free.
Technology will continue to march forward and at Armstrong we look forward to being an active participant. System visibility and the commensurate user safety that digital technology brings to the equation are significant. We see a day where point-of-use fixtures are data logging water usage, which will drive maintenance schedules while at the same time automatically reporting water temperatures during usage periods to central systems in applications where local health authorities mandate set point maximums.
We see digital valves at all points in the system with self-diagnostic features that The Brain already has signaling unsafe conditions through a variety on BMS based alerts and default conditions that ensure user safety.
We see shower valves that upon activation turn off once the overnight dead leg has been purged to drain and desired water temperature is achieved as a conservation measure while the prospective bather attends to other morning hygiene and comfort duties.
We see digital valves that are actively engaged in Legionella incubation mitigation, whether through programmable super heat and flush or out of temperature range reporting. Really, I could go on forever. This is an exciting time and a place to be helping to lead the charge.
Q&A with Tim Baker, VP & General Manager, Moen Commercial
Plumbing Engineer took a moment to discuss technological innovation, water conservation and overall industry trends with Tim Baker, vice president and general manager of Moen’s Commercial Division. He shared some thoughts about where business is today and where it looks to be going in the coming year.
What are some of the trends you see in the industry today? What are engineers, owners and specifiers asking for?
An emerging trend, especially in healthcare facilities, is the need to create environments that are not only durable and reliable but are also reminiscent of residential spaces. The performance still needs to withstand the rigors of the commercial environment, all while providing a pleasing and stylish experience.
In which market segments are you seeing the most activity?
We are seeing activity across many of our market segments. Our primary target market segments for Moen’s Commercial Division include healthcare, educational and office and government facilities. On the residential side, Moen is committed to maintaining its strong relationships with builders, remodelers and showroom consultants, as well as the multifamily segment. We also service the retail channel and provide innovative products to consumers and DIYers. We continue to maintain our leadership role and grow our business within all these categories.
Do you do much work in retrofit? Any trends you’re seeing in that segment?
We continue to see that owners, operators and maintenance professionals are looking for sustainable and hygienic options that also provide cost savings and lower lifetime costs for their facilities. That said, Moen offers a number of retrofit options for facilities. Our manual-to-metering conversion kits allow engineers to convert any M·Dura 8200 series faucet to an M·Press metering faucet. We also provide a retrofit kit that converts a facility’s existing manual flush valves to one of Moen’s M·Power? sensor-operated versions. We feel that, by having these kits available, we’re able to meet these needs within the marketplace.
Are there any particular codes, standards or regulations that are causing particular impact to your business? How are you dealing with them?
As a company, Moen is committed to creating sustainable, eco-friendly products that provide the same experience users are accustomed to. All of our residential lavatory faucets are certified to meet EPA WaterSense criteria, as are a number of our commercial lavatory faucets, showering options and flush valves. In addition, many of our products — including faucets, flush valves and showerheads — contribute toward achieving LEED certification, earning a building up to two points in the Water Use Reduction category.
Eco-performance faucets, flush valves and showerheads all help to achieve LEED points for water efficiency; however, achieving water savings in commercial showering applications often involves more than just a quick swap to a water-saving showerhead. In fact, the installation of water-saving showerheads in older structures could lead to performance and safety issues, such as an increased risk of thermal shock and scalding, if not done properly. To avoid these risks and to ensure a safe, reliable experience, we offer complete commercial showering and tub/shower packages with automatic compensating valves that are certified to meet ASSE (American Society of Sanitary Engineering) 1016 performance requirements for controlling pressure and temperature variation.
What technological innovations or changes are shaping your business and how?
Hands-free technology continues to be a key innovation within the commercial market. As the electronics advance and improve, so does the user’s experience. Moen Commercial’s M·Power?sensor-operated faucets feature hands-free activation and are designed with conservation, hygiene and durability in mind. These faucets are ideal for commercial, healthcare and educational facility applications. Our electronic faucets aid in conserving precious resources, with a unique motion sensor that starts and stops the flow of water. This automatically reduces daily gallons used, lowers sewage bills, limits hot water consumption, saves energy and prevents the risk of accidental overflow.
What are you forecasting for 2013? What do you see on the horizon?
In 2013, we’re continuing to invest and improve upon our commercial portfolio of products. We also strive to provide increased flexibility to specifiers and building owners with additional configurations and finish options. Moen will also remain committed to delivering lower lifetime costs, a best-in-the-business warranty, industry-leading technical support and customer service to all who engage with our brand.
In what ways does Moen communicate and work with the engineering community?
Moen strives to be a leader within the plumbing industry and to deliver helpful information, relevant tools and innovative products to the engineering community. On a day-to-day basis, our sales team serves as a valuable resource in the field, answering any questions and providing quick, reliable customer support. Engineers rely on our representatives to educate and offer comprehensive technical product knowledge. We also provide BIM models and three-part specs for engineers.
Moen recently introduced MoenPro.com, a website completely tailored to the distinct needs of trade professionals. MoenPro.com delivers the tools that trade professionals most often request to help them work faster and smarter, including product information, literature, customized sell sheets, technical specifications, trend reports, warranty information and more. When visiting MoenPro.com, engineers will find a personalized web page with optimized content tailored specifically to their needs.
For commercial building professionals, Moen also offers its bi-monthly In-Spec eNewsletter. It includes information regarding industry best practices and real-life case studies. In-Spec also delivers the latest breaking sustainability news, vandal-resistant tips for successful projects, information about innovative products and tools and much more.
What do you have on tap for the ASPE show? Any big announcements?
Moen is excited to be a sponsor and exhibitor at the 2012 ASPE show. We’ll be showcasing our full line of products, including our metering, heavy- and medium-duty and hands-free lavatory faucets. Moen’s showering portfolio for commercial applications will also be on display, as well as our innovative flush valve offerings.