Welcome to 2011!
We’re hopeful everyone is starting the New Year on a more positive note than last year. Recent reports in the media cite modest gains in certain industries while others are maintaining but not progressing. With our industry so closely tied to the housing sector, the news hasn’t been particularly good for quite awhile. Should we expect that negative trend to last? Possibly, but not in the same way you might expect. Every economist worth their salt has chimed in on what when wrong and how, what needs to be done to correct the severe imbalances in the economy and how to get the world moving forward again. There are as many opinions as there are reasons. Things are moving again, though much more slowly than what was expected. If Americans are expecting double-digit rises in the economy to occur, they will be disappointed. That doesn’t mean it won’t turn around; it just means it will take longer.
With the change in calendar numbers comes the possibility of other changes as well. Technology has rapidly outpaced the typical mindset as it races to new levels, and while most humans grapple with each new discovery with a sense of awe, businesses must take a different approach. Keeping up means staying in business; adapting means staying competitive in the race for market share.
For any number of businesses, this does not mean their efforts to ride out the storm have failed. It means they have to keep trying harder and for a longer period of time to move forward. If ever there was a reason to re-examine policies, training goals and marketing messages, the last two years have provided the incentive. Tried-and-true methods may need re-examination to meet the demands of a decidedly changed business landscape. In this vein, David Martin’s Creative Marketing column covers the basics of expanding existing efforts to find new customers while Gary Coon focuses on how to make good sales people better. Technical Reviewer Andrew Warnes offers yet another of his insightful predictions on where the water treatment industry is heading in 2011 and beyond. Yes, it is getting better, incrementally.
The industry has grappled with the relationship between softeners and physical water treatment devices for years without much success in finding a plane of peaceful coexistence. The Arizona Water Quality Association recently hosted Dr. Peter Fox of Arizona State University to present findings on a study funded by the WateReuse Foundation on the possibilities of non-chemical (or saltless) treatment. Many municipalities have expressed an interest in the study, in part to be better positioned to act if more stringent legislation arises. In the chemical versus non-chemical war, presenting both treatment types and their benefits correctly is of the utmost importance. Technical Reviewer C. F. ‘Chubb’ Michaud explores this in his article.
Overall, the expectations of the industry can be met if there is a collective effort on the part of dealers, distributors and manufacturers to place more emphasis on the benefits of their respective products and technologies using the Battelle Study as a selling point. Consumers are not returning to the days of buying for the sake of buying; they are more tech-savvy and overall value is of far greater importance to them. With this in mind, it’s up to the industry to turn things around by presenting options that provide the best bang for the buck to both new and existing customers. Are you up to the challenge of the new decade and this new reality?
Kurt C. Peterson