Written by IAPMO 4:44 pm IAPMO Annual Conference

George Kauffman Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill Erickson

IAPMO is blessed with nearly 100 years of association members, a great many of whom have proven essential to the launch and growth of one of our major initiatives. A much smaller handful throughout our history have been invaluable to two of our most successful and significant ventures. The recipient of this year’s George Kauffman Lifetime Achievement Award certainly holds that more unique distinction.

Though he was certainly a known commodity in our industry as the head of his family’s very well-respected plumbing contracting business, Bill Erickson’s potential to impact IAPMO wasn’t truly realized until he was elected to the Board of Directors in 2006. He was among the first wave of “at-large” positions created to bring new voices and business backgrounds to the board’s work. And, boy, did he ever set a standard!

From the start, he provided a different perspective, a business acumen that made the Board stronger and better equipped to propel IAPMO’s increasingly lofty aspirations.

The first major initiative Erickson shepherded into existence would become the American National Standard-designated Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard, also known as WE•Stand. Back then it was called the Green Plumbing and Code Supplement and its creation reflected a quickly emerging key priority for IAPMO. Our desire to remain at the forefront of sustainability required a code, and a Green Technical Committee was formed to develop it. But its authors would represent a union of stakeholders whose objectives often couldn’t be further at odds. Only the deftest of leaders would be able to broker consensus from such diverging interests and polarized priorities.

Erickson was that leader. As the committee chair, his disarming personality and keen sense for bridging divides pulled the committee together toward a common goal and an exceptional document was produced — strong in its own right as means for jurisdictions to voluntarily stretch their own sustainability, but also an exceptional model from which to build the powerful WE•Stand IAPMO proudly produces today.

His work, however, was far from done. Not long after the first Green Plumbing and Code Supplement was published, Erickson was one of the first to champion the creation of a charitable arm of the association to support more formally humanitarian projects in which IAPMO was already participating on an emergency basis. This brainchild would ultimately become IWSH.

Erickson didn’t merely cheerlead a good idea, however. Once the ball was rolling, he — and it absolutely must be added, his life partner, Susan Snow — formed a dynamic duo, diving in headfirst to help the foundation reach its full potential.

Once again, his unique leadership abilities came to the fore as young apprentices and established plumbers, engineers, contractors, manufacturers, and others from all over the world came together to complete complex projects. His calming demeanor and mentoring style earned him the nickname “Uncle Bill” during the foundation’s early days, as fitting a title of love and appreciation as one could hope to earn.

And behind the scenes, the business network he built as a contractor in the Chicagoland area for nearly half a century brought early support from manufacturers and like-minded industry organizations to lift IWSH’s aspirations to fruition and become the life-altering philanthropic force it is today.

And one more thing, Erickson most recently served on the IAPMO Standards Council from 2015 to 2022, chairing it for the last three years of his tenure.

For providing nearly two decades of foundational leadership during a period of unprecedented growth for our association, delivering perfectly on the promise his election to the Board of Directors hoped to achieve, IAPMO is pleased to present “Uncle Bill” Erickson with the 2023 George Kauffman Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Thank you so much,” he said. “As I look back at it, the thing that I really loved about IAPMO from day one is excellence in every single thing you do. The standard is set so high that we like that challenge, and there’s an awful lot of work left to be done. I will continue to champion the cause of clean water and safe sanitation because it is a cause we should all be very proud to support.”


IAPMO develops and publishes the Uniform Plumbing Code®, the most widely recognized code of practice used by the plumbing industry worldwide; Uniform Mechanical Code®; Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Code®; and Uniform Solar Energy, Hydronics and Geothermal Code — the only plumbing, mechanical, solar energy and swimming pool codes designated by ANSI as American National Standards — and the Water Efficiency Standard (WE-Stand)™. IAPMO works with government, contractors, labor force, and manufacturers to produce product standards, technical manuals, personnel certification/educational programs and additional resources in order to meet the ever-evolving demands of the industry in protecting public health and safety.

Last modified: March 6, 2024