Choosing the right market
For many water treatment specialists, their first encounter with the industry was probably as a youngster, working in the family business, where they gained a wealth of information and experience from industry veterans. As the scope of water treatment has evolved to include ever more complex problems and resolutions, so too has the focus of the dealer environment. Now the youngsters involved in water treatment businesses have to learn far more to become successful dealers and treatment specialists.
Only a decade ago, there was a definitive and substantial divide between the residential market on one side, with commercial, industrial and municipal on the other. That has changed, due to regulatory requirements, the Great Recession and the realization that water scarcity has become a reality in the US. Smaller public water systems (PWS) haven’t been able to meet the rigorous demands of US EPA regulatory requirements; enforcement of said standards have often been hit-or-miss and consumers have been left holding the bag. Consumers haven’t felt confident in their public vendors for some time and have turned to the water treatment industry to help them achieve their goal of finding quality water.
There are critical differences in the varied industry marketplaces, but one thing is certain. Without the right training, tools, attitude and people, success cannot be hoped for by most who enter new venues. Specialists know their skills are needed more than ever but must be expanded to include new systems, requirements, regulations and markets. From the California drought to the Flint, Michigan debacle, ‘small outfit’ dealers are now reaching into small commercial businesses to assure their clients are offering the best water quality with which to create a better customer experience. Water treatment specialists are taking on the burden of state licensing (contractor, water systems, etc.) to meet the needs of those who can no longer rely on a safe and secure water source from their public utilities. Sustainability initiatives require a new thought process about how to achieve the same goals.
The measure of difference between residential and commercial endeavors is based on application or system failure. In the commercial markets, failure is not an option. As Michael Sheffield of NSF explains in Water Matters, the leeway that exists in residential applications does not apply to commercial venues. There are different equipment and standards requirements to ensure safe water for both but they are more onerous for commercial systems. Greg Reyenke, Red Fox Advisors, presents several important tips on installation of commercial water softening equipment. Remember, failure is not an option in the commercial sector.
At this point in time, desalination is still considered an industrial rather than commercial application but with sustainability driving the markets, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see smaller plants become the norm along the coastal areas, especially on the west coast. Dr. Alex Drak and Roi Azken of IDE Technologies explore a new desal technology that could make a huge difference in how desal plants are designed in the future. Rounding out our coverage, Dr. Kelly A. Reynolds takes a closer look at disparities in drinking water, which indicates a difference or lack of equality between groups.
By the time you read this issue, WQA’s annual convention will be in the record books and we hope you’ve gained some market insight from attending the event. We will bring you a recap of all that was seen and done (and enjoyed) in our next issue. If you have a good idea for an article for upcoming issues, let us know. We’ll be happy to work with you on bringing your knowledge and expertise to our water treatment industry audience.
Kurt C. Peterson