DPHA created the Council of Fellows to recognize career accomplishments. In keeping with DPHA’s tradition of innovation and defying convention, election to DPHA’s Council of Fellows is not simply an honor. It also is a call to continue to serve our organization and industry.
The Council of Fellows does not have an agenda or mandate. The Council is expected to undertake projects that it deems important and vital to the continued success of our industry. As DPHA matures, the organization will look to the Council of Fellows as a strategic think tank.
The criteria for being named a Fellow are intentionally loosely defined. DPHA wants the Council to represent the best minds in the industry in order to provide a medium upon which Fellows can capitalize on the community that DPHA has created and remain active and contribute to the industry’s continual advancement.
Jim Babbitt was the first representative to be honored as a Fellow. Jim became involved in the decorative plumbing and hardware industry in 1989 and immediately set a standard for independent representation that few can match even today. During his days as a representative and leader of a rep agency Jim has gravitated toward distinctive product lines that add value to the showrooms that sell the products he represents and advance the industry as a whole. He helped to pioneer numerous lines throughout the Midwest, including Blanco, Phylrich and Hansgrohe when they first attempted to make inroads into the decorative marketplace. In each circumstance, Jim created a comfort zone for his dealers, helping to minimize the risk of adding an unproven product line to a showroom's merchandising mix.
Jim understood that to successfully sell a line in a showroom, sales professionals need to understand the product and be comfortable with selling it. His ability to train and teach is unmatched. Jim’s passion and commitment for his industry and the organization that represents the industry earned Jim and his companies numerous honors. Jim was the first representative to be elected DPHA president. Jim was named representative of the year in 2005 and the agency he led Hot2Cold was named representative agency of the year in 2006. Jim’s never waning passion for DPHA and the industry resulted in his appointment as DPHA executive director in 2013. He continues to serve with humility and distinction and a shining example of the qualities and track record of a DPHA Fellow.
Jeff Burton built the Bath and Beyond in San Francisco into one of the premier showrooms in the United States. Winner of numerous industry honors, including the DPHA Showroom of the Year, the Bath & Beyond is recognized one of the most visually dazzling showrooms in the nation.
However, Jeff Burton is more than a savvy, astute and successful businessperson. He is a true professional. Burton became the first representative of the decorative plumbing and hardware industry to serve as President of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). He continued to give back to his profession by serving as the first DPHA President. He provided the organization with instant credibility and laid the foundation for DPHA to become the nation's largest decorative plumbing and hardware organization within 18 months of its formation. He also served as president of the Forte Buying Group.
Tom Cohn is another founder of DPHA of sorts. He was retained to take a concept and guide it to a reality. Working from a start-up mode, Tom, his staff, and DPHA volunteers achieved a remarkable level of success in creating a dynamic organization that serves the interest of independent decorative plumbing and hardware retailers, manufacturers, representative agencies and allied professionals. Tom wrote all 23 manuals in the DPHA Education Program, a series of consumer message brochures that showrooms can use on their web sites and in their marketing efforts that explain why DPHA members should be the destination of choice for decorative plumbing and hardware. He also remains responsible for all DPHA publications and offers strategic guidance to advance the Association and its mission.
Hank Darlington along with the late Charles Goldberg are the first two decorative plumbing and hardware dealers to have served on the NKBA Board of Directors. Through their efforts decorative plumbing and hardware became a distinctly recognized discipline. In recognizing Darlington at the DPHA Annual Meeting, DPHA President Bill Fiddler claimed, "Hank helped put the bath in kitchen and bath."
Darlington along with his wife Carol built the Plummery in Sacramento and Oakland into one of the nation's great showroom operations. After selling the business, Darlington continues give back to his industry by consulting with numerous showrooms and manufacturers, sharing his wisdom, business acumen and experience. He is the author of The Complete Business Management Guide for Kitchen & Bath Professionals, Human Resource Management, The Complete Business Management Guide and Kitchen & Bath Business Management.
Darlington writes bi-monthly columns for Supply House Times. He also is the creator and presenter of the National Kitchen & Bath Association's Business Owner Symposium. He has served in the NKBA National Executive Committee, as a member of the NKBA Board of Directors and a former chairman of the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware Council.
Barry Goldberg is the founding father of DPHA. It was his vision, drive and passion that resulted in the establishment of the organization in 2002. Barry served on the organizing Committee, agreed to be a founding sponsor and along with his brother David, developed DPHA’s first web site and guided its evolution to continually provide additional benefits and recognition to DPHA and its members.
Barry served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee during DPHA’s formative years and eventually served as DPHA President in 2010. DPHA was Barry’s baby and like any good parent, he gave it the love, attention and dedication that enabled DPHA to become the leading trade association for decorative plumbing and hardware professionals throughout North America.
David has been a mentor and a sounding Board to the DPHA staff since the formation of the Association in 1992. There is no doubt that were it not for David's guidance and willingness to share, especially in the formative years, DPHA would not have achieved the level of success it has.
He has donated countless hours of time in advancing DPHA technology and providing programming support for the DPHA website. He spearheaded the DPHA Data Standard (another concept ahead of its time) and provided significant review and guidance to the development of the DPHA education program. When staff was having a difficult time writing the Locks and Latchset manual, David explained, "If you are going to write a manual about door hardware, you need to start with the door!" To this day, the Locks and Latchset manual is among the best resources to teach staff how to specify and sell door hardware.
David attended all of the initial DPHA Board meetings and provided sound and motivating guidance. His commitment to elevating the industry earned him the DPHA President's Award in 2005, and DPHA Distinguished Service Awards in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
David has repeatedly proven throughout his professional career that he is committed to showroom and industry excellence, and he has provided leadership to manufacturers, representatives and other dealers. David is a shining example of the long-term, multifaceted industry commitment and continuous contribution that is the benchmark of becoming a DPHA Fellow.
Jamie Gregg's commitment to the decorative plumbing and hardware industry is unwavering. In fact, he and his company Colonial Bronze stand apart. For nearly 90 years, Colonial Bronze has been serving the decorative plumbing and hardware industry and stands as the last remaining manufacturer of highend DPH product in the United States. The company evolved from its humble roots in the Bronx, NY, to a state-of-the-art, environmentally compliant manufacturing facility located in Torrington, CT.
Jamie is one of the founding members of DPHA. He attended the organizing meeting in December 2001 and served on the first Board of Directors. In 2004, Jamie became DPHA's second president. Jamie's contributions and accomplishments in the DPH industry also are reflected by the company's commitment to establish effective partnerships with showrooms. Jamie believes that effective partnerships between the three principal parties in the supply chain — manufacturers, reps and showrooms — must achieve a symbiotic balance in order to succeed. Symbiotic balance demands that every partner benefits meaningfully and significantly. Jamie's approach, commitment, support of the channel and his dedication to advancing the professionalism of the DPH industry made his election to the DPHA Council of Fellows logical and more than deserving.
Marilyn Hermance is another pioneer in the decorative plumbing and hardware industry. She held a variety of jobs before entering the world of decorative plumbing and hardware. She was a child model, owned an automobile and truck company and taught American Studies at Case Western Reserve University. In 1977, Hermance returned to her native Houston. She became frustrated by the fact that she could not find products for her new house that she wanted. As a result, she opened Houston’s first decorative plumbing and hardware showroom. For the next two decades, the business grew steadily thanks to Hermance's sharp eye for innovative product and entrepreneurial passion to succeed.
Hermance recognized the need for her industry to come together and became one of the dynamic forces that helped to create the DPH sector within NKBA. She also understood and appreciated the challenges facing entrepreneurs who may not have had formal business training. That is one of the reasons she helped to establish the Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Houston and serve as one of the Program's adjunct professors.
Hermance continues to give back to her industry. She is a founding member of DPHA and has served on the Board of Directors since its inception. She also is a member of the Board of the Forte Buying Group. Her passion for the industry is an inspiration to all of the employees at Westheimer Hardware where she continues to be the company's leading sales person.
Bob Lando was a pioneer and leader of the decorative plumbing and hardware industry for more than four decades. Bob was responsible for Community Home Supply’s first venture into the decorative plumbing and hardware industry in the mid 1970s. He quickly realized the potential of the burgeoning decorative market and positioned his family’s business to be Chicago's decorative leader long before many other showrooms opened their doors.
Bob wasa driving force behind the development of DPHA's Education Program, providing insightful comments and directions on drafts of the DPHA Education Program manuals long before they are published. Bob's insight has benefited the industry greatly. He also was one of the founding members of DPHA and served as the first president of the Forte Buying Group. Bob served on the DPHA Board of Directors. Bob has retired from Community Home Supply, but continues to give back to his industry through his active participation on the DPHA Council of Fellows and through his commitment to the Fellows Memorial Scholarship Program.
Faye Norton is a pioneer in the decorative plumbing and hardware industry. Designer Hardware by Faye is the destination of choice in Oklahoma City and has been a decorative plumbing and hardware institution for many years. Norton has always felt the need to contribute meaningfully to her industry and advance professionalism. She, along with a number of her peers, was responsible for creating the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Council for NKBA. Norton took on a leadership role in the Council from its inception, serving as secretary, vice chairperson and chair. She also served as chair of the membership benefits committee at NKBA.
During her tenure in leadership roles, Norton represented the needs of the industry with insight and integrity. Norton was an influential voice in the need to develop a new trade organization that would focus exclusively on decorative plumbing and hardware. She attended the first organizational meeting that lead to the creation of the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association and served as chair of the Education Committee for 10 years after DPHA was established. During her tenure, DPHA has developed the industry’s most comprehensive training program and published the industry’s first point of purchase consumer pieces that relate the tremendous value a professional showroom provides to consumers and projects.
In 1988, Kaye Powell accepted the outside sales position for Chown Hardware, selling commercial hardware to schools, facilities, hospitals, etc. She found out she really liked it. Two years later Eleanor Chown asked Kaye to take over the Residential Division of the company, which was called the Showcase at the time. Mrs. Chown was retiring, and residential sales were less than 10% of the company's business. The showroom was small with few product offerings. There were a handful of faucet lines, batch accessories, a cabinet hardware line and tools sold in the showroom as well as Baldwin, Jado and Schlage door hardware displays. The diminutive size of the showroom did not allow for many other products.
In 1999, the company determined that tools were very low profit, and that they should refocus on selling residential hardware and plumbing since profit margins were substantially higher. This was the impetus need to create Chown Hardware's decorative showroom. Today, residential sales comprises almost 50% of Chown’s business volume.
To accomplish this growth takes more than just creating a nice showroom. Chown Hardware encouraged Kaye to join NKBA. She read anything she could get her hands on regarding our industry and went to every DPH meeting at KBIS. She learned from people she met there, and still considers many of them to be her mentors, including Marilyn Hermance, Faye Norton, Jeff Burton and the Charlie Goldberg, to mention a few. Kaye also participated in NKBA local chapter events, served on committees and became the chapter’s vice president of programs. She joined the local NARI chapter and served as president of the Portland chapter and vice president of the Oregon State chapter.
Kaye and Chown Hardware joined DPHA as charter members and served on the Education Committee for several years, including presenting a seminar on door hardware as well as well as writing several educational pieces for DPHA. She has also served on the Forte Board of Directors for a two-year term as its Secretary. She is a passionate supporter of not only DPHA, but also the industry as a whole.
I could speak to the fact that Baci by Remcraft has been in business for roughly 75 years, but in fact, I do not know all of the intimate details of Jeff's dealings with that business; what I do know is that he has been an active, highly involved and deeply dedicated charter member of DPHA since its beginning. Jeff served on the original Board of Directors, was Treasurer of the association in 2005 and the President in 2007.
He has been an active member of the Education Committee and the Awards Committee, and in fact, he (along with Sarah Jenkinson of Barber Wilson/Sterlingham) has been the primary advocate, sponsor and organizer of the Wednesday afternoon/evening activity that have been held at the past few annual conferences and which are used to promote the award nominations process. And again, per Jeff’s insistence, each activity is split in two equal groups — one group is for those people who submit nominations in the Professional awards categories and who then have their cost for the event covered by the activity sponsor(s), and the second group is made up of people whoactually pay the fee for participating in the activity, but with all proceeds for the event then going to the Council of Fellows' Scholarship Fund. Needless to say, Jeff has been, and remains, a driving force on the Awards Committee.
There is so much more that we could say about Jeff, but what more can I say other than that he has always been an extremely dedicated member of this association, and if I ever need someone to help, Jeff’s first and only response is "what can I do?" He is selfless with regards to DPHA and if there is anyone better who exemplifies the spirit of a DPHA member, I don’t believe I have met them yet.
Ken Rohl entered the decorative plumbing and hardware industry in 1981, working for a sink manufacturer. At ISH, he encountered a number of European manufacturers breaking ground with their designs and technology. He recognized opportunity and an untapped market when he introduced the pullout kitchen faucet to the United States. Several years later, Rohl created a company that set the stage for Rohl, LLC. He carved a niche in a highly competitive arena by introducing such lines as Perrin & Rowe, Shaw sinks and the Rohl country faucet collection. Rohl has served his industry through his involvement as a director on the NKBA Board of Directors and has been honored numerous times for this contributions to the industry, including being elected to the NKBA Hall of Fame.
A true pioneer of the decorative plumbing industry, Fred Silverstein founded Plumbing World, a small plumbing supply house in Long Beach, California, back in 1977, and was willing to take the risk of being an early adopter, building out an extensive showroom, and becoming one of the first distributors to promote such lines as Grohe, Artistic Brass and Harden. He never looked back, and has spent every year since then innovating and supporting not only the decorative plumbing industry, but also the independent channel.
After growing Plumbing World into a local decorative plumbing destination and a brief stint distributing decorative faucets on the West Coast, he created California Faucets in 1988. In an industry that accepted 6 to 8 week lead times as normal and acceptable, Fred strove to do better. Whether through improved operations, increased stock levels or "quick ship" programs, the entire industry now benefits from this massive shift as what is viewed as an acceptable lead time.
While the two companies Fred founded obviously speak to his exceptional entrepreneurial talents, they also represent a very rare accomplishment: Fred has been a pioneer on both the dealer and manufacturer side of the business. He intuitively understands the nature of each, and he is undoubtedly among a very small group of individuals who truly developed and deeply impacted the growth and trajectory of the decorative plumbing industry we know today.
As for Fred's support of DPHA, he was a charter member of the organization and has supported it, not only with annual sponsorships and exhibiting at the annual conference, but by encouraging key people in the company to get involved. Most notably, when past DPHA President, Steven Weinberg, joined California Faucets, Fred encouraged him to continue his involvement by remaining on the Board. By nature, Fred is not a public figure. Not everyone contributes the same way to organizations or industries. Fred is an intense behind-the-scenes "doer" by nature, but his impact is large.
Jon Spector has been in the Decorative Plumbing and Hardware industry virtually all of his adult life, and has truly been a "man for all seasons" since his career has seen him be all 3 of our major membership segments - a dealer, a rep and a manufacturer. Jon started in this industry working as the warehouse manager at Brickman's in the Boston area, and over the course of his 5 years there, served several different roles ending with his appointment as showroom manager.
Jon then started his own rep firm, Jon Spector & Associates, in 1985, and covered the New York Metro, Mid-Atlantic and New England areas. Jon's vision of a decorative industry was certainly evident at this point in his career, since he chose to handle and pioneer new, high-end lines that were virtually unheard of at that time; lines such as Alape, Bette, Dornbracht, HEWI and Valli & Valli. He also served on the representative council for Santile, the US distributor for Dornbracht at that time. When it was virtually unheard of for someone to represent lines other than commodity lines, Jon took the plunge.
Then in 1997, Jon became the CEO and President of Dornbracht, where he remained for the next 14 years. Jon led that company in developing successful training and education programs and the implementation of several defined strategies. Among these strategies was Dornbracht's URAPP (Unilateral Resale and Advertising Pricing Policy), which not only stabilized a dealer's margins, but clearly defined any exceptions to the established URAPP program. At a time when other manufacturers claimed they couldn't do anything about enforcing rampant discounting among the dealer network, Jon and the folks at Dornbracht said "yes we can". In no small part, Jon's visionary thinking not only advanced Dornbracht Americas positioning in the marketplace, but helped reshape the thinking of other manufacturers who now more actively support the brick-and-mortar showroom.
Jon has served as the Strategic Board Chairman for Dornbracht Americas, overseeing sales, budgets and brand development, and has also served from 2009 to 2013 on the DPHA Board of Directors, sharing his invaluable experience to improve the industry.