water heating

A Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence honoree, Bob “Hot Rod” Rohr travels across the country as a trainer for Caleffi North America, sharing his 40+ years’ of experience as a plumbing, radiant heat and renewable energy contractor, all while bringing his rubber-to-the-road experiences to life. Be honest, do what you say you will do.  It’s that simple Read more

A Carlson-Holohan Industry Award of Excellence honoree, Bob “Hot Rod” Rohr travels across the country as a trainer for Caleffi North America, sharing his 40+ years’ of experience as a plumbing, radiant heat and renewable energy contractor, all while bringing his rubber-to-the-road experiences to life.

Be honest, do what you say you will do.  It’s that simple, really.

If you bill your training as a technical event or class, make it that. Certainly, everyone of your attendees has an opinion, and that is a good thing. So at class end they get to decide if it checked the boxes they brought along to have filled. For example, a boiler piping presentation needs to have schematics of piping. I’d take it further and make the drawings as generic as possible.

Caleffi North America, Caleffi, hydronics, training, HVAC, plumbing, water heating, supportthetrades, trades, Hot Rod Rohr, Bob Rohr

Fortunately I work for a manufacturer that publishes a very generic, non-biased trade journal. This makes for some excellent content for the classes.

But also be realistic in your expectations; not everyone in the room will be at the same level, and have the exact same expectations. Promote the event as basic, intermediate or advanced to help clear up the  content. A trainer should, poll the room right off to get a feel of the experience level of the class. Ask occasionally if the info is meeting the needs or expectations. A trainer needs to be prepared to shift gears

Keep additional PPTs ready to go on your desktop if you need to raise or lower the content level, or bounce around to assure everyone gets something from their time commitment.

Know also that generous giveaways and CEU offerings will get some attendees that are there for the “goods” more so then the content. It’s easy to spot folks like that. They spend a lot of time looking at their phone.

Caleffi North America, Caleffi, hydronics, training, HVAC, plumbing, water heating, supportthetrades, trades, Hot Rod Rohr, Bob Rohr

Someone is paying the trainer to get to the event and spend a few nights on the road. Expect the sponsor to have a product table, or some handouts that are brand specific. A few questions on a form or link to QR code to get feedback is helpful for trainers.

Timely topics help fill a room. Clever course names help people click on the training promos.

Like any trade, time on the job helps a trainer learn what works and what flops, so be prepared to change up your presentations or presentation style occasionally. A Toastmasters class can sharpen your presentation skills. Speak loud and clearly. Move around the room.

Caleffi North America, Caleffi, hydronics, training, HVAC, plumbing, water heating, supportthetrades, trades, Hot Rod Rohr, Bob Rohr

Watch big name, professionally-trained  presenters. See how they move and observe the techniques they use to keep the room’s attention. Who is your favorite actor and why?

Got any tips or suggestions? Pass them along.

The past few years have been good for contracting businesses, barring component availability and skilled labor woes. For anyone in the trades, operating a plumbing and mechanical company profitably looks different today than it did 20 years ago, but there are still plenty of similarities. Joe Tull, 36, founded Straight Plumbing, LLC seven years ago Read more

The past few years have been good for contracting businesses, barring component availability and skilled labor woes. For anyone in the trades, operating a plumbing and mechanical company profitably looks different today than it did 20 years ago, but there are still plenty of similarities.

Joe Tull, 36, founded Straight Plumbing, LLC seven years ago, and feels as though he’s settled into a sweet spot. Right now, that includes running two trucks and focusing on Maryland’s Hartford County and northern Baltimore County. The company used to be bigger, but not necessarily better, according to Tull.

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Roughly 30 percent of Straight Plumbing & Heating’s work is hydronic heat. The rest is residential and commercial plumbing service.

“I’ve always preferred quality over quantity,” he explained. “When I had more employees, I spent a lot of time going behind them and fixing their mistakes or shortcuts. Right now I have a fantastic apprentice, Robert Howard, who’s been with me four years. He’s always respected me and done things my way, which simply means not cutting corners. I’d hire 20 like him, if I could find them.”

Joe grew up working for his father’s plumbing company, but after a while, the two Tulls couldn’t see eye to eye. So Joe left and spent several years on the plumbing service crew for a large company before hanging out his own shingle in Jarrettsville, Md.

Specialization

Specialization gives the people  . . . the opportunity to go further in any direction of study than any other human has gone before.” – Ryan North

“Service is what I knew best, and what I could build a reputation on most rapidly,” said Tull. “Service work also provides the greatest opportunity to solve people’s problems. The new construction side of the business is more volatile.  So I specialized in plumbing service, and as soon as I was up and running, I dug into hydronics to expand our offering.”

Joe Tull, Straight Plumbing, plumbing, U.S. Boiler Company, Alta Combi boiler, boilers, water heating, HVAC

Joe Tull founded Straight Plumbing, LLC in 2016, after working for his family’s company and several other plumbing firms in the area.

Today, 30 percent of Straight P&H’s work is hydronic heat. The rest is plumbing service, both residential and commercial.  Due to the rural nature of his territory and the presence of hard and harsh water, many of their service calls involve well pumps and water conditioning. A deep understanding of water quality has infinity improved Tull’s hydronic and plumbing work.

Forging relationships

 “Technology does not run an enterprise, relationships do.” – Patricia Fripp

Tull learned early in his career that relationships are critical to the success of a business. In addition to learning from his father, he had mentors at supply houses, rep firms and within his social circle.

“I had a lot to learn when I first started installing boilers” said Tull. “Jim Bull, at Thomas Somerville became a mentor. He has a wide range of heating knowledge and was always generous with that information.  He’d even stop at my jobs in the evening and set me straight if I was in a bind.”

Relationships are as important to Tull today as they were then, when he was still building his portfolio of experience.

Joe Tull, Straight Plumbing, plumbing, U.S. Boiler Company, Alta Combi boiler, boilers, water heating, HVAC“I try to be an information sponge and do my best to become an asset to the people who add value to my life,” said Tull. “Over the past three years, I’ve worked closely with the reps at ROI Marketing, specifically Dan Byrne, district manager, and Dave Raabe, sales manager. Those guys are never more than a phone call away.”

Byrne has known Tull for more than 20 years, but has only been his hydronic rep for about three years, after helping Straight P&H sort out some technical issues on a particularly challenging project. Tull installs their line of U.S. Boiler Company condensing and cast iron boilers, ComfortPro PEX, State water heaters and Webstone valves.  Some of that equipment comes through Jordan Mitchell, at Northeastern Supply, while some is sourced at other supply houses throughout the area.

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Straight Plumbing & Heating used to be a larger company, but Tull intentionally reduced it to two trucks for the sake of quality and consistently.

“Dave and Dan rock,” said Tull.  “Their support, and the help I’ve received from the factory tech support at U.S. Boiler has been outstanding.  I’ve used other boiler brands with less success and non-existent customer service.”

Byrne and Raabe visit Tull’s jobsites a dozen times or so each year, often on the front end, to provide sizing assistance, system concepts, etc.

“What I observed when I first met Joe was a young guy that wanted to install stuff properly,” said Raabe.  “He’s very talented and his work is extremely professional, yet he’s humble and not afraid to ask for help.”

“I wish all our customers were like Joe,” added Byrne.  “He takes real pride in his work.”

Referral marketing

 “Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.”

– James Cash Penney

“I left my previous job because I saw customers being taken advantage of,” Tull said.  “I don’t hard-sell anyone.  I present their options along with fair pricing and let them decide what they prefer.  I want customers for life.  If I’m fair and I do the job to the best of my ability, my customers become my salesforce.”

Tull doesn’t just talk the talk.  His 38 five-star reviews on Facebook are proof enough.  One review states, “Joe came to my house and fixed me up.  After I got estimates from other plumbers that were way too expensive, Joe fixed my old water treatment system without pushing me to buy a new one.  He simply stated ‘Please think of me when you decide to upgrade.’  And you bet your butt I will.”

Create value

“You don’t get paid for the hour.  You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” – Jim Rohn

Straight Plumbing and Heating creates value as well as anyone in the business.  Homeowner Steve Shelley learned this when he first hired Tull to solve some minor plumbing issues.  Years later, when it came time to replace the home’s oil-fired boiler, Joe was his first and only call.

“Joe is very responsive, knowledgeable and thorough,” said Shelley.  “He doesn’t try to oversell, he’s happy to answer questions, and he’s never in a rush to get things done.  I didn’t have to think twice about hiring him to convert our home from oil to propane, which we did mainly for the energy savings.”

Joe Tull, Straight Plumbing, plumbing, U.S. Boiler Company, Alta Combi boiler, boilers, water heating, HVAC

The combi boiler system Tull installed heats the home through a hydronic air handler, while also providing more hot water than the homeowner had ever had in the past.

The home is heated by hot water fan coils, and the existing boiler used to provide DHW through a 40-gallon indirect tank.  Shelley estimates that the unit burned 800 gallons of oil each year, or roughly $3,200.

Tull buried a large propane tank in the yard, replaced the existing unit with a 200 MBH Alta Combi boiler, and sidewall vented the new unit.

The retrofit took place in June last year, giving Shelley nearly a year to calculate the energy savings that Straight Plumbing and Heating had provided.

“We used 400 gallons of propane over the winter, and I’m sure we’ve consumed a little more through the fall and spring for hot water,” he Shelley.  “With LP at $2.00 per gallon, we’re saving somewhere around $2,000 per year.”

Joe Tull, Straight Plumbing, plumbing, U.S. Boiler Company, Alta Combi boiler, boilers, water heating, HVAC

Tull replaced an oil-fired boiler with a new Alta condensing combi boiler for an annual savings of $2,000.

Shelley also noted that the family used to run out of DHW quickly.  Now they can shower as long as they want and run multiple taps.

“We have all the hot water we need,” Shelley explained.  “We can’t smell oil in the basement anymore, and we don’t hear the boiler start up like we used to.”

“We have about a dozen Alta boilers in the field,” said Tull. “They work very well on LP.  Most of the installations in Hartford County are on propane. The Alta is also easy to clean, and access is fantastic because the side panels are removable.”

There’s another reason that Tull installs the Alta.  Much like other models in the U.S. Boiler Company lineup, the Alta is available at a variety of local supply houses, including Northeastern Supply, Thomas Somerville and R.E. Michel.

“When it’s cold and a customer needs heat, I can’t come up empty-handed on parts and product,” said Tull. “Having equipment that’s readily available is extremely important.”

Overcoming challenges

“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.” – Ray Davis.

Last heating season, Straight Plumbing and Heating installed 35 boilers. This year, only 20. He suspects the economy has something to do with that, but he’s certain there’s another reason.

According to Tull, many big HVAC companies are pushing homeowners toward inexpensive heat pumps. There are lots of “house flippers” in his territory, as well.  Typically, flippers install the cheapest heat pump on the market.

Joe Tull, Straight Plumbing, plumbing, U.S. Boiler Company, Alta Combi boiler, boilers, water heating, HVAC

Straight Plumbing & Heating has a dozen Alta boilers in the field, and he’s found them to be reliable and very easy to work.

“I’m not talking about high-efficiency, low-ambient temperature systems,” he said. “I mean the cheap, undersized unitary systems. I’ve had homeowners call me after buying a house with a new heat pump, asking if I can install ‘a real heating system.’ Once winter hits, they’re uncomfortable and their electric bill spikes because the units constantly run on emergency heat.”

It’s hard to sell a premium system against a budget option when the customer doesn’t know the difference before signing the contract.

“I know it will all come full circle,” said Tull. “You only make that mistake once.  If I was trying to grow rapidly, I’d be concerned about it, but I’m happy with where the company is.  It’ll grow gradually.  We’ll continue solving harsh water problems and creating extremely comfortable heating systems.  If we do that and remain transparent with our customers, the company will continue to do well.”

Rheem®, a leading global manufacturer of water heating and HVACR products, today announced that Chris Haynes, vice president of Global Procurement, has been named as a Supply & Demand Chain Executive “2023 Pros to Know” award recipient. The award recognizes outstanding executives whose accomplishments offer a roadmap for other leaders looking to leverage their supply chain Read more

Rheem®, a leading global manufacturer of water heating and HVACR products, today announced that Chris Haynes, vice president of Global Procurement, has been named as a Supply & Demand Chain Executive “2023 Pros to Know” award recipient. The award recognizes outstanding executives whose accomplishments offer a roadmap for other leaders looking to leverage their supply chain for competitive advantage.

As vice president of Global Procurement, Haynes oversees the global strategic sourcing across Rheem’s air and water divisions that include an array of products, such as tank-type and tankless water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces and HVAC systems for residential and commercial applications.

“I am honored to be chosen by my peers for the Pros to Know award and to be in the company of the other esteemed winners in my field,” said Haynes. “With the fast-paced world of supply chain becoming highly volatile in recent years, this is great recognition of Rheem’s unwavering commitment to deliver high-quality products for our customers. Today’s environment requires us to constantly reinvent what it means to be a supply chain professional and I’m incredibly proud to help lead Rheem’s global sustainability practices, which we have implemented rapidly on a large scale.”

Haynes has had an illustrious career with Rheem spanning more than a decade. He manages a global team with 60 direct and 125 indirect reports across 25 locations in 10 countries. Haynes also is passionate about mentoring staff and investing in talent to build strong teams across Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

Facing global supply chain disruptions, post- COVID-19 recovery and inflation, Haynes always ensures Rheem can deliver outstanding results for its customers by spearheading and revolutionizing Rheem’s inbound supply chain process. Serving as a company leader on Rheem’s “A Greater Degree of Good” sustainability initiative, Haynes has worked with global suppliers and manufacturing facility leaders to reduce Rheem’s carbon footprint, utilize recycled materials and work toward achieving the zero waste to landfill goal.

“Chris is not only a ‘Pro to Know,’ he is one of Rheem’s supply chain heroes and sustainability champions,” said Rheem President Global Water, Rich Bendure. “Chris is customer-focused in everything he does and, as a leader, inspires his teams to put that into practice every day. Chris knows that exceeding our customers’ expectations, particularly in times of uncertainty, gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace, and solidifies Rheem’s long-term reputation as a manufacturer that delivers on our commitments. Congratulations, Chris, on this much-deserved award.”

Visit https://www.sdcexec.com/awards/pros-to-know to view the full list of “Supply & Demand Chain Executive 2023 - “Pros to Know” winners and visit rheem.com to learn more about Rheem’s latest news.

AHR 2023 is a wrap, and the biggest U.S. HVAC show marks the 20th time—minus the COVID year—that I have attended this great event. A huge shoutout to the Stevens family for organizing such a great experience. Also, huge props to Nicole Bush and her press team for helping the trade press throughout the event Read more

AHR 2023 is a wrap, and the biggest U.S. HVAC show marks the 20th time—minus the COVID year—that I have attended this great event. A huge shoutout to the Stevens family for organizing such a great experience. Also, huge props to Nicole Bush and her press team for helping the trade press throughout the event, and keeping them fed and hydrated.

AHR Expo, AHR, heating, cooling, HVAC, plumbing, air conditioning, refrigeration, AHR2023, water heating, MTGA podcasts, AFC podcasts

Now that we’re all back home safely—I hope—we can digest the event and gain a better perspective of what transpired over these past three days. The numbers haven’t been shared yet attendance-wise, but it was a hugely successful event, especially coming through what some call the “COVID years,” where traveling came to a stop—with more people now connecting again.

AHR Expo, AHR, heating, cooling, HVAC, plumbing, air conditioning, refrigeration, AHR2023, water heating, MTGA podcasts, AFC podcasts

The MH team, and some old guy.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the manufacturers’ investment in after parties that are always a hit! For the Mechanical Hub crew, for example, it was Taco, Burnham/U.S. Boilers, Rheem, RLS, Franklin Electric, RIDGID and Viega.

From what I heard, over and over again, is that Atlanta just isn’t the most optimum place for a trade show, if I can be perfectly honest. Listen, Atlanta is a wonderful city with plenty to do and many fine places to eat and drink, but the traffic, and the infrastructure to support such a trade show, need to improve. But hey, it was 65 degrees and sunny, and relatively quick flight to the show. So, I suppose it does have its advantages. Where does Atlanta rank for you? Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas. Perhaps it should be noted that the sooner you book accommodations for a show, the more strategically you will be for rides, dinners, walking, etc.

Nevertheless, I can’t tell you how many people sniped about the layout of the show floor—getting from one end of Exhibit Hall C, and its meeting rooms, to the other end of Exhibit Hall B, and its meeting rooms was a hike. My feet, and the 55,000 steps according my trusty Fitbit, were a testament to that.

Also, as I mentioned, 20 years of covering the event, it’s nice to see the changing of the guard with some young talent in attendance, more pointedly—and I know some don’t like to be referred to as this—social influencers. They cover the floor tirelessly to promote the show and new products. In fact, I was lucky enough to attend the social media breakout on the last day. Ten of the brightest influencers graced the stage to talk about their experiences and the importance of social media, and what it means to be an influencer.

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HVAC & Social Media: Strengthening the Trade with a Community Mindset—from l to r: Ben Poole @hvactactical, Jamie Christensen @northwest_hvac, Aaron Bond @bond_aaron, Michael Flynn @flynnstone1, Jeff DeMassari @jeffjdemhvac, Jessica Bannister @hvacjess, Rachel Sylvain @hvacrara, Chris Stephens @hvacrvideos, Eric Aune @mechanicalhub, and last but not least, Omar Harris @omartheplumber.

We also were fortunate to share the stage with some of the best podcasters on the planet, as our Make Trades Great Again, hosted by Eric Aune and Andy Mickelson, featured three podcasts during show hours to much fanfare. Guests included representatives from RIDGID, NIBCO, Navien and guest Travis Albaire, T.A.P. Plumbing and Heating. Check them out wherever you stream. Also, the Appetite for Construction podcast, hosted by John Mesenbrink and Tim Ward, featured two podcasts, which featured guests from Bradford White, Rheem, Spirotherm, Lochinvar, and Danny G and Louie the Boiler Man. These recording will be launched within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, check out these podcasts wherever you like to stream stuff, or you can always find them right here on our site.

The Appetite for Construction Podcast with guests Louie Medina @louietheboilerman and Danny Gronendyke @howitbewithdannyg

The Make Trades Great Again Podcast with guests Michael Provenzano, director of pressing and Jim Vild, Atlanta territory manager, RIDGID.

As far as the latest and greatest, you couldn’t get far without seeing the future. Electrification, decarbonization, hydrogen technology are making waves as more heat pumps, electric furnaces, electric boilers, hybrid heat pumps and prefabbed distributed pumping methods are front and center; the latest in thermostats, and a plethora of other products that can talk to each other, and you, with a WiFi signal—from circulators, forced air furnaces to tankless water heaters. New or improved pipe joining methods through press technology, push-to-connect fittings, fusion welding, advances in pipe bending and cutting drew eyes. Listen, if it’s in the HVAC industry, it’s at AHR.

AHR Expo, AHR, heating, cooling, HVAC, plumbing, air conditioning, refrigeration, AHR2023, water heating, MTGA podcasts, AFC podcasts

Check out Mechanical Hub websites, social media (@mechanicalhub & @plumbing_perspective on Instagram and TikTok, Facebook and LinkedIn.) and check out our ever-growing YouTube for products from the show.

Next year’s AHR Expo will take place in Chicago, my back yard, January 21-24 (2024). Again, check back for updates on the show or any other breaking announcements surrounding the event.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe along with Tony Stewart Racing’s Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan to Carry Rinnai Branding in 2023. Kannapolis, N.C. — Rinnai America Corporation has partnered with Tony Stewart and his racing entities in NASCAR and the NHRA to promote its line of products using his diverse motorsports portfolio. In NASCAR, fans will see the red Read more

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe along with Tony Stewart Racing’s Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan to Carry Rinnai Branding in 2023.

Kannapolis, N.C. — Rinnai America Corporation has partnered with Tony Stewart and his racing entities in NASCAR and the NHRA to promote its line of products using his diverse motorsports portfolio.

Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart, NASCAR, NHRA, Rinnai, tankless water heaters, tankless, plumbing, water heating

In NASCAR, fans will see the red Rinnai logo in an associate position on Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 Ford Mustang driven by Chase Briscoe in the NASCAR Cup Series. In the NHRA, Tony Stewart Racing drivers Leah Pruett and Matt Hagan will carry the Rinnai logo in the Camping World Drag Racing Series, with Pruett running a full Rinnai primary sponsorship on her Top Fuel dragster in two events – the NHRA Winternationals March 30-April 2 in Pomona, California, and the NHRA Carolina Nationals Sept. 22-24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Hagan will sport a full Rinnai livery on his Funny Car in the NHRA New England Nationals June 2-4 in Epping, New Hampshire, an event the three-time champion has won four times, including in 2022.  

Our expertise in tankless water heating is unmatched, and this partnership with Tony Stewart and his NASCAR and NHRA teams allows us to tell that story in a thrilling, team-oriented environment that emulates the quality and dedication we put into our products and services,” said Frank Windsor, president, Rinnai America Corporation

“The similarities of our business to racing are numerous especially when speed efficiency, and superior quality are keys to success. Performance is paramount, and that’s something Rinnai has always understood. It’s part of our overall commitment to our customers, and racing embodies that commitment.”

The NASCAR Cup Series encompasses a total of 39 events in its milestone 75th season, beginning with the non-points Busch Light Clash Feb. 5 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and ending with the season finale Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series includes 21 events in 2023. Its 72nd season starts with the NHRA Gatornationals March 9-12 in Gainesville, Florida, and concludes with the NHRA Finals Nov. 9-12 in Pomona.  

“We’re incredibly proud to have this partnership with Rinnai because it shows the strength of our motorsports program,” Stewart said. “NASCAR and NHRA offer two very different fan experiences and combined they touch every corner of the country. Rinnai and its customers get the best of both worlds because our program allows a number of choices to promote its products and services.” 

In addition to branding on racecars, Rinnai becomes the official tankless water heater of Stewart Haas Racing and Tony Stewart Racing. This designation highlights Rinnai’s brand promise of “Creating a healthier way of living®”, a mantra that is at the forefront of all the company’s efforts. By continuing to offer quality products and services to homeowners and organizations, Rinnai is aiding in providing businesses and homes with energy-efficient hot water options for cleaner and healthier living. 

The announcement of the partnership comes after a series of milestone events for Rinnai America. “We opened a new manufacturing facility last year in Griffin, Georgia, that has allowed us to combat shipping delays and supply-chain challenges. In this facility, we manufacture our new RE Series™ Tankless Water Heater, the first and only non-condensing unit with a built-in pump. That product, along with our ability to manufacture in the United States, is another reason why we’ve partnered with Tony Stewart and have become the official tankless water heater of Stewart Haas Racing and Tony Stewart Racing,” Windsor said.