PMI Annual Report Explores Five Ways Pandemic Year Transformed Industry
McLEAN, VA – “How do we make sure our industry is available?” Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) CEO / Executive Director Kerry Stackpole recalls asking this question when the COVID-19 pandemic started causing business closures and stay-at-home orders.
PMI’s efforts to get plumbing manufacturers labeled as essential businesses by the federal government were successful, allowing PMI members to keep production lines moving, maintain employment, and contribute to the national effort against a deadly virus.
The PMI Annual Report 2021 tells the story of a vibrant industry and explores how the pandemic year changed five aspects of plumbing manufacturing: workplace safety, remote working, product innovation, supply chain, and diversity and inclusion.
1. Workplace safety
To keep employees safe, LIXIL has implemented a policy to quarantine any employee exposed to possible COVID-19 infection from the workplace for 14 days, with full payment. Due to the shortage of COVID-19 tests, LIXIL chooses not to wait for a positive test, but instead to quarantine those who show symptoms or who are found through contact tracking near others who test positive. “It was difficult because we had to send (a lot of) people home, but the long-term thinking was that it kept the rest of our people safe and our factories running,” said Chris Marozzi, leader of worker health and safety for LIXIL Americas.
2. Working remotely
Kohler Co. noted many positive consequences of switching to remote work. “We saw an increase in the use of collaboration technology,” said Brian Kendall, Kohler’s director of operational excellence. “The interactions grew significantly as we got better at them. Our decision-making has improved, with colleagues being able to make decisions in real time, leading to productivity gains and results. Adam Guenther, Kohler’s associate director, operational excellence, said the company was amazed at “the intensity of work people could do at home. before, ”to the point where the company was encouraging employees to set limits on their work, he said.
3. Product innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic caused problems on production lines and caused a shift to remote working, but created opportunities for the plumbing industry to address a new concern that many people now face: the spread of infectious viruses.
This change in public awareness has spiked sales of contactless plumbing products with many PMI member companies reporting increased sales of both faucets and toilets with contactless features. “Touch-free is everywhere. It’s in every conversation. That’s the main reason for much of the innovation effort at Bradley and across the industry, ”said Nate Kogler, senior director of product management at Bradley Corp.
4. Supply chain
Rapid and unexpected developments as a result of the pandemic have forced companies to continuously monitor their supply chains. “I have to look at all the raw materials we need to make a product,” said Elton Perkins, Fluidmaster, Inc., global purchasing and distribution director. and Co-Chair of PMI’s Commerce Committee. “How many sources do I have for ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) or polypropylene, for example? Do I have enough qualified resources in my specification so that I can choose a second one if one supplier quits? Frankly, I have to go three to four deep into different commodities and qualify a backup, and backup to backup, of critical commodity suppliers. And it is constant. “
5. Diversity and inclusion
When race and social justice took center stage after the murder of George Floyd, PMI member the stepped up its diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts to support its peers. “What we went through last year was this eye-opening, this awakening to corporate America,” said Katrina Jackson, UL’s global head of diversity and inclusion. While UL had already established a formal “D&I ecosystem” of executive and leadership councils, global ambassadors and internal resource groups, Jackson said the company wanted to be more transparent, promote equity and make measurable progress. UL’s D&I team worked with the Corporate Sustainability Group to create a racial justice matching program to influence the black community at large.
The report is preceded by a letter from PMI Board of Directors President Todd Teter of House of Rohl and PMI Direct Past President Joel Smith of Kohler Co. Read the full report https://www.safeplumbing.org/communications/pmi-annual-report-2021.