Celebrating the Plumbing Industry

A week at the WWETT Show highlighted the character and strength of this industry.
Celebrating the Plumbing Industry
Luke Laggis

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The plumbing trade isn’t celebrated as it should be. That’s part of what I like so much about the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show. It’s the living embodiment of this industry, where all the people, stories and equipment are brought together and celebrated.

This year’s show drew one of the largest crowds in the show’s history. Total attendance climbed to over 14,400, and the number of exhibiting companies reached 599, an all-time high. Beyond the numbers, it was just great seeing so many of you in Indianapolis.

I saw a lot of husband-and-wife teams walking around at this year’s WWETT Show. There were a lot of families, everyone in matching shirts, representing their businesses, and maybe less consciously but possibly more importantly, who they are: strong families with integrity and a work ethic — businesses with a moral compass.

I saw familiar faces sitting in classrooms, walking the show floor, doing whatever they could to make their businesses stronger. Call it a team-building exercise, call it a vacation if you want, but they were there to make their businesses stronger. They were taking advantage of opportunities to learn and grow. I like seeing that. It’s what this magazine is all about.

In some ways I think running a family business is more difficult and more complicated than running a Fortune 500 corporation. In a bigger company, you might have bigger issues, higher stakes and consequences that impact more people, but in a small business, in your business, it’s often just you. All the decisions, all the responsibility, all the success and all the blame land squarely at your feet. And in addition to the business operations, there are family dynamics to balance. Issues in one realm can easily bleed over into the other. It’s hard to lock up and leave business matters behind, especially when the office is right across the driveway from your house and you can see your service vans from the living room window.

I’ve been in that position, where going home at the end of the day simply meant climbing a flight of stairs. I’ve played different roles on a lot of teams, from youth sports to captain of my high school hockey team, different jobs I’ve had, running a family business, coaching, marriage and more. I served many of those roles well, and in some I failed miserably. But I can tell you none felt more significant than running a business my mom built, that had supported my family and felt more like home than anywhere I’d ever lived.

Putting the team first isn’t always the easiest thing to do, because it takes everything you’ve got. Running a family business takes even more. But that’s nothing new to you; it’s simply what you do. I just thought it deserved some recognition.

Enjoy this month’s issue.


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