IAPMO Thrived in 2021 Despite Significant Hurdles

With this being my last Official article for the calendar year, I would like to point out what may look different in the edition than previous years. Historically, this issue of the magazine has included reports from our various business unit leaders. This year, we decided to change that. In the summer and fall editions of the magazine, we’ve shared some of our strengths in the new “IAPMO Is …” section. This section was created to highlight our work, relationships, products, and services, and to show how IAPMO benefits the industry. Moving forward, the magazine will continue to share the technical articles many of you enjoy and will also continue to report on IAPMO’s global impact through focused articles or stories.

We also will focus on one of IAPMO’s strengths – our committees and membership. This past year, you’ve seen us highlight a few IAPMO members by sharing their stories. Look for this to continue and, if you know of an IAPMO member who should be recognized in the magazine, please share your recommendation with IAPMO staff!

I’d now like to highlight some of the significant achievements of The IAPMO Group over the past year.

I’m happy to report The IAPMO Group has had an exceptional year, especially when you consider the impact of the pandemic on our global operations. Like every company around the world, we’ve been disrupted significantly, but our staff, committees and customers have all demonstrated exceptional resilience throughout the year. 

Our Uniform Codes are the foundation of all that we do and the reason we exist today; virtually every service we offer has a connection to our codes and standards. The public comment period toward the development of the 2024 Uniform Plumbing Code® and Uniform Mechanical Code® is underway and was advanced during our recent virtual Education and Business Conference. In addition, development of the 2023 Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard (WE•Stand) and the 2024 editions of the Uniform Solar, Hydronics and Geothermal Code, Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Code, and National Standard Plumbing Code is similarly underway. I extend my sincere gratitude to the members of all of these committees for your time, expertise, dedication and flexibility in continuing this vital work even in these unprecedented times.

Moving on to Government Relations (GR), Executive Vice President Dain Hansen and his team have continued their great work this year on international policy, as well as domestic policy both locally and at the federal level. IAPMO has remained an active proponent of legislation to reauthorize and bolster the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), including funding for plumbing research touching on sustainability, efficiency, water quality and reuse — all aspects of our industry that are vitally important to IAPMO and our members. The GR team has also done a phenomenal job securing grants and contracts to advance IAPMO’s international activities over the years, and 2021 was no exception. We were able to obtain a U.S. Department of Commerce contract that enables us to conduct plumbing market research for the Southeast Asia region and a USAID-ANSI Standards Alliance grant that helps support our international work.

IAPMO Field Services under Senior Vice President DJ Nunez united with GR to form a powerful combination to produce major code victories, with UPC adoptions in Maine, Seattle, Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota and Washington; the defeat of two bills that would have abolished adoption of the UPC in Texas; adoption of the 2021 UPC and UMC in Austin, Texas; adoption of the UPC as the default code for the state of Nebraska, including moving state buildings to the UPC; and a successful campaign to defeat efforts to displace the UPC in St. Louis.

Senior Vice President Tony Marcello and the Training and Professional Testing department have done an amazing job in the creation of the strongest and most qualified portfolio of plumbing code training offerings in the world. Since the start of the pandemic, the department has created 35 webinars and virtual training opportunities — more than anyone else in the industry — and they are developing more for 2022, including courses on water pipe sizing and the utilization of IAPMO’s new Water Demand Calculator.

One bit of disappointing news to report is a modest decline in IAPMO membership, which can be largely attributed to the pandemic and a drastic reduction in the budgets of many member jurisdictions and companies. We are encouraged, however, by what we are hearing as economies reopen, and we anticipate a steady increase as we move into 2022 — especially as we have greatly enhanced the membership experience with the introduction in June of the MemberMax software platform, a more intuitive and comprehensive member portal. Further, the IAPMO Board of Directors this year established a sub-committee to bolster recruitment strategies, recognize long-serving committee members, and create an even more welcoming experience for those attending IAPMO’s annual Education and Business Conference for the first time.

IAPMO R&T and IAPMO R&T Lab are long established as the global leaders in product certification and testing. No other organizations can compare in terms of the depth, breadth, and quality of the services they provide. Those services expanded further in 2021 with the addition of Supply Chain Management Services, a new IAPMO R&T program supporting suppliers and retailers across the entire building product spectrum by providing logistics consulting and inspection services across the globe. I also want to recognize the herculean effort undertaken by IAPMO R&T’s Continuous Compliance department, easily the most disrupted business unit during the pandemic. This team had to pivot quickly, efficiently and professionally to conduct virtual inspections without compromising quality or credibility. Job well done!

ASSE International has experienced growth across all areas of its portfolio in 2021 — product certification, standards, membership and professional qualifications. A record percentage, 70% of all ASSE/ANSI standards are either new or have been updated since the start of 2020, a remarkable and unprecedented accomplishment.  

The fastest growing business unit in The IAPMO Group in 2021 was Uniform Evaluation Services. The UES department, managed by Jerry Carrier, added nine new staff members, including the acquisition of Quality Control Consultants. QCC, led by Myra DeVit, brings a very strong accredited third-party inspection agency with the ability to provide code consulting, witness testing and quality control manual support while expanding our client base and industry expertise. 

IAPMO Oceana Managing Director Paul Bonsak and his capable team have done a wonderful job growing the Australia-based plumbing and gas product testing and certification business. We’ve experienced tremendous growth with the gas testing program and are now the second largest gas lab in Australia. In fact, we are already planning for further lab expansion, including creating a hydrogen research and testing facility. Hydrogen has been identified by the Australian government as a crucial tool in its emissions reduction strategy as a viable alternative to fuel gas. 

IAPMO India fully integrated the Aqaudiagnostics laboratory into its operations, and with that integration appointed Dr. Nimish Shah as managing director to oversee the lab and all other code support services provided by IAPMO India. We are excited because Dr. Shah brings many years of executive leadership in water, sanitation, hygiene and food safety. 

The Marketing and Communications department, working in conjunction with Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and host Christoph Lohr, introduced “The Authority Podcast.” The first season, comprised of nine episodes that explore in great depth a wide range of subjects representing the key issues of our industry, featured an array of industry leaders as guests. Recording of season two is underway.

I’m pleased to note that all four of our main social media accounts increased followers over the past year, with the most significant jumps on Facebook and LinkedIn, which each gained about 1,000 followers. If you’re not already following, I encourage you to do so in order to keep up with all the important news and information from The IAPMO Group.

IAPMO’s Technical Services team has created two task groups to address lessons learned from the pandemic: medical gas and bathroom design. Hospitals have been and remain under siege from waves of COVID-19 infections and medical gas systems have been tested significantly as a result. We’re going to examine if there’s a need to address some of the code provisions to embrace what we’ve learned during this time. Similar questions will be considered with respect to touch-free fixtures and ventilation design in bathrooms. 

Wrapping things up, I can safely say The IAPMO Group remains very strong and stable, and that we are more resilient than we’ve ever been. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been able to increase our financial reserves by 53%, an unprecedented figure in our association’s history. From this position of strength, we are continuing to invest in our future and to improve our services to our members and customers. 

I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season, implore you to stay safe, and look forward to an exciting return to normalcy in 2022!