Robert Svridron has a passion for solving challenging problems and was drawn into the plumbing industry because he is actively encouraged to think outside of the box. Nicholas Hipp fell into the industry after graduation by responding to a job posting for a plumbing systems designer all because he found poop to be funny. Ross Trethewey grew up in the plumbing industry and is the fifth generation of his family to work in the business — you may have even seen him on episodes of “This Old House” or “Ask This Old House.”

What do Svidron, Hipp and Trethewey have in common besides working in the plumbing industry? These three individuals are among our 2023 class of Next Gen All-Stars, recognizing the next generation of the plumbing industry who are doing their part to make a difference.

As a millennial myself, I’ve heard all the stereotypes out there, including how we younger employees need our hands held and pats on the head. I’ve also heard most of the ones about Gen Z, and how they don’t want to work. The truth of the matter is everybody likes to know their hard work is appreciated — and that they’re doing a good job. In the continuing struggle to find workers for the trades, companies must find new ways to attract and retain the next generation if they are going to survive. And employee recognition might be one of the easiest strategies in the effort to attract and retain.

According to a survey by OnePoll on behalf of Bonusly, almost half of U.S. workers (46%) left a job because they felt unappreciated. Another 65% of respondents said they would work harder if they felt like their contributions were noticed by management. Studies suggest that it costs, on average, six to nine months of an employee's salary to replace them. That can add up quickly. But according to a Gallup/Workhuman survey, organizations that make employee appreciation a priority have workers who are 56% less likely to look for a new job. And in a SHRM study, 68% of HR professionals agreed that employee recognition positively impacts retention, while 56% said it also helps with recruitment.

Earlier this year, we asked you — our readers — to nominate someone 40 or younger deserving of recognition. Someone who brings new skills, ideas and strategies to overcome challenges and meet demands in the plumbing industry. We were blown away by the number of nominations received, making narrowing down our list quite difficult. The individuals chosen represent the best and brightest of the next generation in all areas of the industry.

From a journalist’s standpoint, these are the stories I love to tell. I love talking to young engineers, company owners and product managers and hearing about their origins. While many of these stories share a similar theme of how they got their start in plumbing and HVAC, each individual has charted their own path to be where they are today. And there lies one of the industry’s best-kept secrets — the opportunities are endless.

Click here to see our 2023 class of the plumbing industry’s Next Gen All-Stars, and please join us in congratulating them for a job well done!