For the love of this industry

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john_mesenbrinkHonestly, there are really too many things to list here, but coming up on 10 years in the plumbing and HVACR industry, certain things just stand out for me, some tongue-in-cheek. Here are five that I recall fairly clearly:

• Urinal Salutations — So a group of us was invited to dinner during a KBIS Show by a kitchen and bath manufacturer. An elegant private room was reserved for us, and the conversation—and drinks—were flowing. After a few glasses of wine, I decided to hit the men’s room. When I arrived, the lone urinal in the restroom was occupied — by the CEO of said manufacturer. Unbeknownst to him that I was waiting behind him, he finished his business, turned around, smiled and let out a loud, “JOHN! How are you buddy?” at which point he extended his hand for what I recall as an uncomfortable greeting at that particular time. In the men’s room. Immediately after, well, you know. And I proceeded to… Did I or didn’t I take one for the team?

• AHR Nausea — While taking in a booth visit at a recent AHR Show, I was talking with a group of people when I felt a splash on my right leg as if someone had dropped a water bottle and its contents had a direct hit on me. I should be so lucky. As I looked up from my soiled pant leg, I noticed an older gentleman who wasn’t looking so fresh, vomiting into his AHR goodie bag, Deducing that his projectile vomit had hit the floor and sprayed up on to my leg, I calmly walked over to the old chap and told him, “Dude, you know you just threw up on me? Are you okay?” Too much drinkey the night before for that old guy, I guess.

• Live Burn Blues — Duty calls, as a brigade of journalists was invited by a manufacturer to witness an outdoor “live burn” event. Pretty cool, huh? Except on this day the winds were gusting in excess of 35 mph. As we scanned the area for escape routes, I can remember fellow editors Candace Roulo and Mike Miazga joking that there could be no way that this event could actually take place. Not in these conditions. But with about 30 local firefighters on hand, we felt pretty safe. We were told to take our positions to witness the burn, but when right before the start, the fire marshal walked over to the group and told us it wasn’t a safe place to be or flying charred debris could hit us. That was reassuring. We moved off to the side and the live burn went off successfully. It was humorous to see all the editors in their fine attire brush off the ash, heeding a call the dry cleaners very soon after.

• The Meeting — The first time I really got to know my Mechanical Hub partner was at the OESP (formerly NAOHSM) show in Hershey, Pa. Sure, we had corresponded over the phone and via email, but after a long day at the OESP show, a group headed over to the bar for a couple of brewskis. As we perused the menu for a libation, Eric found one called “The Dream Weaver,” at which point he turned to the waitress and serenaded her with Gary Wright’s similarly-named one-hit wonder, “Dream Weaver.” Those smooth sounds coming from those golden pipes would have made any barkeep blush, but instead, completely mortified, she left without a word. But it was then that I knew that Eric was pretty ok. He’ll deny it to this day, but when you see him, ask him to do some of his impersonations of famous voices.

• Places & Faces — In all seriousness, I have never—and never will have—taken the cross-country travels, manufacturer plant tours, show after-parties, etc. for granted. I always feel honored to be a part of a great industry, and I try to cover it as best and objectively as I can. I have traveled all across this great country and abroad, as well. And throughout my travels, I have met some of the nicest, more intelligent people you’ll find, and some who have helped shape me along the way. It is their sharing of knowledge, time, and excitement for the industry that has been a part of my fabric these past 10 years or so. Although there are too many to list here, people like Eric Aune, Mark Perrone, Bob ‘Hot Rod’ Rohr, John Vastyan, Dan Foley, John Barba, Dan Holohan, John Abularrage, Dave Yates…, I can’t thank enough for the friendship and interaction over the years.

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