Living into our why: A brief history of the PHCC of North Carolina


By Jim Pendergrass

            Why. This small, three-letter word has helped define the history and outcome of a distinguished list of events though time.  For example, why did the Wright brothers travel more than 600 miles from Ohio to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to construct and launch a craft they believed would allow men to fly?

Oh . . . I suppose I just gave it all away . . . because they believed something was possible.

So, why did a group of North Carolina master plumbers come together in 1910 to form a professional association? Because they, too, believed something was possible.

            They believed that they could better advance the professionalism and knowledge of their trade on behalf of their and their neighbor’s families if they worked together in ethical ways.  They believed they could better protect their businesses when faced with legislative or regulatory overreach if they spoke with a unified voice. They believed in the basic premise of strength in numbers. And apparently, they believed that plumbers looked good in hats and bowlers, too!

So, they established an association that through time became today’s Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of North Carolina, Inc. (PHCC of NC) in order to live into that why.

We believe that original Why is just as valid now as it was then. PHCC of NC’s vision is that we are dedicated to the advancement and education of the plumbing and HVACR industry for the health, safety and comfort of society and the protection of the environment.

A commonly heard, decades-old phrase in our industries is “The plumber protects the health of the nation.”  Today, we would add the HVACR contractor as well, since our indoor air quality is also part of our health concerns.

Advancement . . . Education . . .  Safety . . .  Comfort . . . Protection. Pursuit of these values is our Why, and we pursue them through our mission to become so relevant that clients and the public identifies a PHCC of NC contractor as the best choice for a knowledgeable and reliable product and service.

What does all this look like at PHCC of NC day-by-day?  It looks like efforts, activities, and involvement on a wide array of fronts, such as:

  • Across the state, contractors gather in local groups to discuss and share best practices, to be informed of pertinent activities in their area regarding job permits, inspections, common code violations, etc. They transition from merely being competitors to being colleagues;


  • Quarterly code intensive classes are offered to help contractors refresh their knowledge, and to learn about any code addendums that have been put into effect;


  • A four year apprenticeship program is available for contractor members to access for training their techs and for attracting new employees to their companies;


  • PHCC staff and leadership are collaboratively involved with a number of statewide and regional efforts aimed at addressing the challenges of a shrinking trades workforce, which includes work with the NC Community College System, the Department of Public Instruction, and NCWorks;


  • A lobbyist is engaged by the association to keep watch for NC legislation that might adversely affect a member’s company or livelihood. Included in this is a vigilant effort to guard against any reduction or removal of licensure for the professional services our contractors provide to the public for their health and safety;
  • An annual Connections Conference trade show – held this year in Greensboro on April 11– brings vendors who showcase the newest products and services available to benefit P-H-C contractors, and hosts the regional SkillsUSA-NC contests for high school and post-secondary school students in plumbing, HVACR, and sheetmetal; and
  • Our affiliation with the PHCC-National association gives our members access to an extensive library of business and technical resources, national legislative and federal regulatory lobbying efforts, and much more.

We could go on if space permitted, and we trust you get the idea of the scope of our association’s endeavors to live into our Why.

If you are a P-H-C contractor, where do you fit into this? Rest assured, the Wright brothers weren’t so naïve as to think that if they were able to make their machine fly, it was only for their benefit. And neither were the people who worked with them on the project! They understood that their combined effort as a team, one might even say as a family, multiplied the effect of their belief in making a difference through their profession.

Will you join the PHCC team?  How to join us in Living Into Our Why can be found at

Jim Pendergrass is PHCC of NC’s executive director.


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