Executive Director’s Message

Working With the Leadership to Set PMI’s Strategic Path

By: Barbara C. Higgens, PMI CEO/Executive Director

Barbara C. Higgens

Last month, the PMI Board of Directors, members of the Strategic Advisory Council and our two lobbyists met at PMI headquarters to map out our legislative and regulatory path for 2015. The group confirmed the results of a survey of PMI member CEOs and agreed to keep PMI’s focus pin-pointed on specific plumbing industry “water” issues rather than adopting a more broad-based agenda. Issues including energy, legal and regulatory reform, healthcare, tax reform, trade, safety and labor will be left to larger organizations like the National Association of Manufacturers of which PMI and several PMI companies are members. It was acknowledged that PMI may, from time-to-time, participate as a signatory on letters in support or opposition to certain relevant issues, but we will not devote resources to actively work issues that are outside of the agreed-upon scope.

Focus has been the key to success for our small but mighty organization. With an operating budget of just over $1.3 million, and a full time staff of four people, each of whom specialize in a different area, our advocacy and outreach activities are currently supported by two lobbyists. Plumbing issues dominate the “plates” of both of our lobbyists: Stephanie Salmon on the Federal level and Jerry Desmond in California (where State activities there are often the source of initiatives which ultimately appear on other State/Federal agendas.) Adding more topics to an already very full agenda, spreads our resources too thin and dilutes both our efforts and effectiveness.

PMI members have confirmed and our strategy map reflects, PMI’s two-pronged member value: Advocacy/Outreach and Technical Expertise. PMI’s staff, financial resources and focus are allocated to support these disciplines equally.

Another important action item at the July Strategy session was the evaluation of candidates for the 2015 Board of Directors slate. A new process is in place whereby interested candidates from PMI Manufacturing Member companies must now apply for the roles. While previous participation in PMI Conferences and Committees is not required, the endorsement and support of the candidate’s senior management is. Each candidate is asked to discuss the opportunity within their organizations. Board service requires commitment in time and focus. It is essential that the candidate be willing and able to devote extra time to PMI.  Candidates’ applications are reviewed by the Executive Committee and presented to the membership for a vote at the General Membership meeting in October.

And while we strive to balance the composition of the Board of Directors by product focus and company size, we are looking for motivated and committed individuals with a demonstrated record of strategic thinking and, ideally, past experience of service on other not-for-profit Boards. We are looking for the best individuals for this important job, regardless of corporate affiliation.

As outlined in the PMI Board Orientation Materials, the basic function of the Board is threefold:

  • Strategic Direction: To determine the outcomes to be accomplished.
  • Stewardship: To ensure the resources necessary for achievement are available and used effectively.
  • Accountability: To make sure the desired outcomes are being achieved.

The Board’s role is sole focused on the governance of the organization to

  • Establish goals and objectives
  • Review, enhance and execute the Strategic Plan
  • Focus on the outcome, not the means

In addition, as a steward of the organization’s finances, Board members have a fiscal responsibility to PMI. Board members may not use their position to advance personal or corporate agendas and make a commitment to respect the Board governance culture.

As an organization, PMI continues to evolve to meet the needs of members and the challenges presented by our industry. PMI staff provides the foundation and continuity for the organization and is responsible for executing initiatives. Representing the membership as volunteer leaders, the PMI Board of Directors provides the spark and inspiration for our strategic initiatives. The partnership of the Board and the CEO/Executive Director is an important and powerful one.

The results of the July strategy session including the proposed 2015 Advocacy and Outreach agenda together with the 2015 Slate of Officers will be shared with you over the coming months and specifically at the 2014 Fall Conference October 27-30. Don’t miss it!