Guest column: We’re so much stronger when we collaborate


By Jim Pendergrass
Executive director – PHCC of North Carolina

“Collaborate.” That’s what my grandma would’ve called a 50 cent word where a 10 cent word would do just fine. It means work together, especially if you’re working together to get something done.

Collaborating for Success has been the driving theme for PHCC (Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors) of North Carolina during 2017. As our P-H-C industries faced mounting workforce shortages, regulatory demands, and legislative issues we were well aware that we weren’t in these situations alone. Collaboration among similar stakeholders in these areas of concern can multiply our effectiveness, help coalesce new ideas into actions, and hopefully move us all forward toward positive resolutions and directions for our trades and its professionals.

This focus on collaboration has led us to involvement with the NC Community College System’s (NCCCS) Council of Associations for Engagement, discussing the changing needs in attracting and training skilled workers for our trades, and ways NCCCS might respond to those changes. It has led to an opportunity to participate with the NC Department of Public Instruction’s Construction Education Advisory Committee, with similar aims at a public school level.

This collaborative mindset also led PHCC of North Carolina to become part of the Health, Safety, Comfort Coalition of NC, which brought together the trade associations representing plumbing, mechanical, fire sprinkler, fuel piping, and building performance contractors, licensing boards, and inspectors to work together in strengthening our respective industries and presenting a unified voice of commitment to serve our fellow NC citizens for their health, safety, and comfort.

In short, just as professional tradesmen benefit from collaborating with fellow tradesmen by association, sharing best practices, and learning new techniques and processes from each other, we discovered that our associations can collaborate for success in ways that can effect a greater good. That sounds like the spirit and mindset that help define our nation and culture from the very beginning.

So, I’d ask you . . . where are you collaborating for success in your community? Where can your best ideas be added to your neighbor’s best ideas in a way that multiplies the effect of both for the benefit of your community? “Collaborating for Success” may have been our theme for 2017, but the strength of the concept has the potential to shape our efforts from now on. Because 50 cent word or not, we’re so much stronger when we collaborate!

PHCCC-NC executive director Jim Pendergrass can be reached by email at, or by phone at (919) 532-0522. See


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