It is with great sadness that the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC) reports the passing of Raymond R. “Dick” Irwin, PHCC—National Past President (1985–1986), a driving force behind the creation of the PHCC Educational Foundation and a highly respected leader in the plumbing-heating-cooling industry. Dick, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, died at age 93 on January 10.
“Dick helped set both PHCC and the Educational Foundation on paths to success that continue to positively impact professional p-h-c contractors today,” said PHCC—National President Joel Long. “We were honored to have known this visionary industry leader whose contributions will benefit generations to come.”
PHCC “A Heritage Unique” history book reports from 1985 describe Dick as someone who was “just plain fun to be around” with a “robust, earthy … sense of humor.” Dick’s theme during his term as president at that time was “Keep NAPHCC on the Right Track—the ‘M Track’,” as he called it, denoting Management and Education, Money, Manpower, and Membership.
A native of Ohio, Dick represented a new breed of association officers. He was a graduate of the Milwaukee School of Engineering, the alma mater of UA General President Marvin Boede, who was his fraternity brother. After graduation, Dick moved to Florida, spent five years as an apprentice and only two as a journeyman plumber before purchasing (with a partner) the firm that employed him. Farmer & Irwin Corp., Riviera Beach, Florida, continues to operate today and is an active member of PHCC.
A PHCC survey during Irwin’s PHCC presidency showed him to be in tune with membership. The majority of respondents reported exorbitant insurance costs and liability as their major concerns, followed closely by unfair utility competition. In response to competition from retailers, Dick advised members to compete, not complain, and he had a zero-tolerance level for unfair competition.
Of prime importance to Dick was the idea of an Educational Foundation as an arm of PHCC focused solely on education. While he faced some initial opposition, Dick sent personal letters to every past president soliciting their support; he developed a “Why a Foundation?” paper to inform PHCC membership; and he and members of the Executive Committee talked about the proposal at every opportunity on the state and national levels. “Whenever there was a concern, we immediately addressed it,” he said. At the 1986 PHCC Annual Meeting and Convention in San Francisco, California, the creation of the PHCC Educational Foundation was approved.
“The PHCC Educational Foundation owes so much to Dick Irwin,” said Foundation Chair Kevin Tindall. “We wouldn’t exist without the effort he put in to get us started. The legacy of his efforts has helped the careers of thousands of people in our industry.”
At PHCC’s 2015 CONNECT conference, “Dick expressed how proud he was of how things worked out for the Foundation … that we were doing what he had envisioned when he got us started,” said the PHCC Educational Foundation’s Vice President of Development and Communications John Zink.
Most recently, Irwin had just celebrated his 72nd wedding anniversary with wife Patsy. Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared with the Irwin family at howard-quattlebaum.com.