KIRKLAND, WASH. — I would like to respond to the young Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick's letter "Young plumber is unlicensed and proud of it" in your July issue (pg. 31).
It is quite obvious that for an 18-year-old Mr. Fitzpatrick is very knowledgeable about the plumbing, heating and cooling industry. It sounds to me that both he and his father are very adept at their trade, have good ethics and exhibit good craftsmanship.
All of us know of licensed contractors in the industry whose work does not reflect the high level of craftsman-ship that most of us strive for. However, I'm quite surprised that Mr. Fitzpatrick would be proud to be unlicensed. He even states that his company stays out of areas where a license is required. I would think just the opposite would be true — that with his knowledge, craftsmanship and ethics, Mr. Fitzpatrick would be eager to become a licensed contractor. This would allow him to work anywhere without the worry of staying out of a licensed area.
I will not try to make excuses for the licensed contractor who did the work Michael described in his letter. We have all seen those who make the dollar more important than the job to be done, even in a $1 million home. However, those individuals and their work ethics are not indicative of the majority of professional contractors in our trade.
I wonder if Michael or his father would go to an unlicensed doctor who has had no formal continuing education for the last 10 or 15 years? We in the plumbing trade are professionals, dealing with the potable water and sanitary systems that the public depends on.
In my travels this year as president of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association, I find that the one major issue that keeps coming up is state licensing and continuing education for those areas that do not already have it. It is true that some cities or counties do have some sort of mandatory licensing or continuing education units, but these are sometimes not required statewide. Some have no licensing, permitting or inspection required as long as you are some distance outside the city. Is this good for the public? At PHCC we strive to improve our industry by providing the knowledge, craftsmanship and ethics to be successful in business. This is done through seminars and meetings for our contractor members. We have also started a clearinghouse of information for states seeking statewide licensing.
I can understand both Michael and his Dad's frustration with having to come in and pick up after someone. I would encourage them to join PHCC, get involved and to be part of the solution. There is no doubt they are a first-class operation. They would also be at home with our enhanced service group, Quality Service Contractors. Should they join PHCC, I will personally pay their registration fee to their first QSC meeting.