I am going on my sixth year at www.contractormag.com and CONTRACTOR magazine, and this year I had the opportunity to attend the Uponor Convention, Connections 2014, is Las Vegas for the first time.
The convention started April 23 and ended the following day at a cocktail reception at the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. The past 48 hours have been packed full of best practices, networking, and connecting with industry experts on the topics and issues that matter most to the mechanical contracting industry.
There were a variety of sessions for attendees to pick from. My favorite topics were issues that are near and dear to me personally, such as attracting the younger generations into wanting a career in plumbing and/or HVAC industries and how to install and profit by installing residential fire sprinklers. I also really enjoyed attending Matt Michel’s presentation on brand marketing.
In the session, Breaking the Negative Stereotypes: The Importance of Attracting Skilled Trades People Into the Plumbing and HVAC Market Place, a variety of issues were brought up by the panel experts, which included members of the media, Steve Swanson, customer trainer at Uponor, and Mark Eatherton, who is RPA’s executive director and one of CONTRACTOR’s most popular monthly columnists.
“We need to get into the public policy arena regarding education,” said Eatherton. “It’s all about perception. We need to start earlier than high school, we need to start talking about a career in these trades as early as in sixth grade. We need to tell younger generations that you will have a good job and a good life with this career. We also need to increase the amount of money people are paid in the trades.”
It’s no wonder finding ways to promote careers in the plumbing and HVAC industries is such an issue these days when you consider the statistics: in 2012 the average tradesperson was 56 years old, and only one in three persons would consider telling their children to have a career in the trades, according to Suresh Parmachand, senior marketing manager at Uponor.
During the session, AquaSAFE 101: How to Install and Profit From Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems, Dan Hubbard, design services supervisor of fire safety at Uponor, discussed the basics of fire safety and why fire sprinklers should be installed. Robert Kleinheinz, fire prevention specialist of Lake Zurich, Ill., also joined the presentation and discussed the importance of contractors knowing their AHJ and how to speak their language and understand their role.
Matt Michel, CONTRACTOR’s monthly marketing columnist, presented the session Boost Your Brand; Boost Your Bottom Line. Michel discussed the history of branding. Believe it or not, branding started 8,000 years ago!
According to Michel, we brand because it gives us order, simplifies processes, makes decisions easier, simplifies communication and implies a promise (an implied process).
Michel said that the main thing contractors should do is talk to their customers and find out what makes their company different. Find out why your brand matters to customers!
Doug Hanson was the closing keynote speaker. Hanson had a successful career in in the computer industry selling for Hewlett Packard and he also had a career as a show director for ESPN televised sports. In 1994 Hanson decided to create his own company and commit to helping people and organizations thrive and prosper by improving their skills, believing in themselves and thinking positive via having a positive mindset, energy and connection to others. Currently he is an internationally known speaker, consultant and coach throughout the world.
Hanson began his presentation by taking about the brain and how it works and how all of us are conditioned whether we like it or not, or even realize it. He also mentioned the state of the country and world and how much negativity is around all of us on a daily basis.
“There is so much negativity right now, said Hanson. “However, we need the opposite end of that spectrum to balance everything out, which is positivity. There is so much opportunity right now for people who are positive. We have the opportunity to be the person that makes a difference.”
“Desire, work ethic, passion, and attitude; there is a big difference between understanding these things and actually doing them,” exclaimed Hanson.
Hanson then said there is a dark side of the universe [all the negativity around us] trying to bring us down, and you need to constantly work it, so the negativity doesn’t affect you.
“The brain is like a garden,” explained Hanson. “You need to plant positive seeds in it, so that grows instead of negative things. No matter what, the seeds you plant will grow in your head, and the soil in your head doesn’t differentiate if it’s something positive or negative, thus, you have to constantly work your mind. We need a higher level of thinking.
“I challenge you to play all out,” said Hanson. “Do something every day to brighten people’s lives.”
Hanson added that when you play all out you have to play all out all the time, it cannot be just once in a while.
“Each of us has our place in the universe where we can make a difference,” said Hanson. “When you change yourself for the best it transfers over to other parts of your life.”
Hanson ended his presentation by asking the audience what is the purpose of life.
“The answer is: one human caring for another,” said Hanson. “This will change you from the inside out. This will change who you are. When you give you will receive.
“Amazing things happen when you play all out,” said Hanson. “This is about setting dreams and having goals. Most people won’t set goals to obtain their dreams because they are scared they won’t achieve them. You need to set audacious goals and play all out and not be afraid of failing.”
Are you ready to play all out in your personal life and career? I know I am!
If you attended the Connections 2014 Convention let me know. I would love to know what you thought of it, what your favorite sessions were, and what you plan to implement once you are back home.