Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Viewpoint

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

At the close of the decade…

Every year at this time, people begin to think in terms of better things to come. Maybe it’s the holiday season that gives rise to optimism; we hope this is true. Good news can’t come fast enough for most people, regardless of industry, and we’re no exception. We’d like to hear more from our readers about what they want to see in the magazine in the coming year. And we’d love for manufacturers and distributors to be more visible to readers through advertising and technical articles. It’s time to push forward to make the next year better than the last, with a renewed sense of purpose.

As we bid farewell to 2010, there is little to indicate enough of an increase in revenues in the POU/POE industry to offset the massive losses of 2008-9. There are, however, indications the economy is gaining some ground, according to recent business reports. It’s nice to see this in the newspapers and on business channels but is it really representative of our industry? We’d like to hear your thoughts. How have you weathered this storm and what do you think will be the turning point?

With the occurrence of subsequent drought years, many areas of the country are now experiencing water scarcity, requiring deeper wells and better technology to produce safe water. Arsenic is also more of a problem in the US and many well drillers, plumbers and dealers are offering systems designed to remediate arsenic contamination. The combination of knowing where to drill and what to do to offset some of the inherent well-water problems is becoming a necessity for water treatment specialists who deal with municipalities and homeowners alike. To address some of these concerns, Stuart Smith and Allan Comeskey of Ground Water Science, LLC show us the importance of hydrogeology in designing and drilling water wells. Shannon Murphy, of Watts Water Quality and a member of WC&P’s Technical Review Committee, offers insight into arsenic removal systems and why they are becoming more of a necessity. In another follow up to New Trace Capacity Test Method Needed for Future Activated Carbon Applications (June 2009), Henry Nowicki of PACS, Inc. presents additional information on this testing protocol, examining failure of AC due to chlorination. While this information is more directly related to manufacturing, anyone who uses activated carbon may find it will increase their knowledge base.

Industries change with consumer demand, which is a reflection of how customers view their world. It’s a constant in the business world that requires creative thinking on many levels to compete successfully. If sales pitches didn’t work last year, what do you plan to change? Do you know what to change? Dale ‘Data Dale’ Filhaber joins us this month to offer a short, five-step guide for keeping your business at the top. Her tips may help you decide what to do differently to increase sales and find new business opportunities. Kelly Thompson tackles a very real problem many companies encounter in the wired world that can have significant impact on the bottom line: preventable data loss. He provides an overview of how to maintain system integrity by managing office computer use and preventing lost income due to compromised data. In the Flowing Issues column, Technical Reviewer Andy Warnes presents a win-lose scenario for the future of manufacturing. Again, changing to meet new business dynamics will create opportunities and become the determining factor in continued operations. Is your company up for the challenge?

We close this year, and this decade, with a sense of accomplishment and pride. Few businesses survive to or past the 50-year mark, and for those that do, each subsequent year prompts a reinvestment of effort. The reward is not just another year in business, but the knowledge that your family, friends, employees and peers respect your efforts. This leads to additional investment in shared success. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope the New Year brings better opportunities and increased business to everyone!

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

Viewpoint

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Fall has arrived!

Across the nation, abnormal temperatures and weather patterns have been creating havoc all year. Now it looks like fall weather is beginning to show itself everywhere, even in the Southwest, which means many areas will be coming to grips with the annual winterization process. While this doesn’t really seem to be an issue in the more southerly regions, it still is important to make sure the proper steps are taken to ensure equipment, fixtures and plumbing are adequately protected. Whether it’s residential, commercial or larger facilities, weather damage to infrastructure and equipment can result in cascading failures that affect water quality for entire communities. And nobody wants their Thanksgiving dinner ruined because of that!

Speaking of larger facilities, this is the month for WC&P to tackle big-water applications, and we are presenting several across a large spectrum. The International Desalination Association has provided an article by Lisa Henthorne (previously released solely in their association newsletter) that covers pretreatment for desalination, while Pentair’s Beth Adams focuses on the cruise ship industry’s efforts to provide potable water for passengers. Filip Rochette of Belgium-based PuriTech writes about ion exchange technology for nitrate removal in municipal and industrial water treatment environs. Evan Lubofsky, Onset Computer Corporation, provides insight on municipal system operational efficiency, using data logging to determine where savings may be gained by monitoring equipment patterns.

Who hasn’t encountered a problem with septic system odors at campsites? Klaus Voss and John Norton offer a case study on sludge and odor removal at an RV site using technology that has been used throughout Europe, Asia and Australia. Although the vacation season may be ending in most areas, there are still some vacationers out there who would appreciate having clean facilities wherever they go.

David Martin’s bi-monthly Creative Marketing column provides a comprehensive look at the electronic tools available to every business, large and small, that will reach a greater number of customers. Gary Coon makes another appearance with his unique marketing and sales perspective, a thought-provoking piece that should have you asking if your customers are really yours.

Rounding out our coverage are recaps of InterBev/IBWA and PWQA annual conferences. As usual, we have great images of the movers and shakers in the water treatment industry, giving us a unique picture of the importance of continued attendance. Keep an eye on Upcoming Events for the latest additions to the calendar for the rest of the year and well into 2011. We want you to know where the important shows are happening so you can plan accordingly. And we hope to see you at some of the upcoming events that WC&P will be attending, such as WQA Aquatech in March.

And finally, the staff of WC&P would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. Until we meet again, let’s keep it positive out there, okay?

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

 

Viewpoint

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Expanding horizons

Fall means it’s time for the conference season to begin slowing, after several notable events this year. In this International issue, we take a look at the broader spectrum of treatment in other areas that have entirely different infrastructure and water quality challenges. Many dealers and manufacturers have been heavily involved in the most recent disaster relief efforts in Haiti, Pakistan and other areas, and continue to provide support to those who have suffered so much from the ravages of Nature.

In this issue, Water for People’s Ned Breslin advocates a change in mindset for all involved in improving access to safe water, especially in underdeveloped countries around the globe. His insightful idea for looking at what hasn’t worked, and changing the strategy for reaching the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, may be the best idea yet. And, with the UN’s symbolic declaration that water is a human right, a better way must be found. Water and water treatment are not free. Many understand this basic tenet of resources and economy without the need for a declaration. The work that is needed to provide potable water to the planet’s citizens will go on long after the debate on what constitutes a right to water, opening channels for discussion and opportunities for companies to become involved in expanding their network of clients.

Australia’s bid to enforce water conservation has run into some measure of resistance because information about how to do so did not filter down to the people adequately enough. The steps that country has taken to overcome years of drought and unsustainable water practices resulted in business opportunities for branching industries, such as risk analysts and software companies. To manage the programs the government put into place, the strategy included a wide range of seemingly unrelated professionals to accomplish the goal of maintaining a high quality of water for all citizens. Software to manage the huge water programs had to be developed and, in this issue, Simon Wallis provides insight into how that was accomplished.

As in past International issues, we are taking a look at projects in less fortunate countries, headed up by US companies and organizations, to bring the reality of higher quality water and good sanitation to those who need it most. Technical Review Committee member Jim Lauria provides a case study on simple technology developed by a faith-based company to meet the immediate needs of people in disaster-stricken areas. Alana Soehartono and Marissa Jablonski cover the efforts of a segment of Engineers Without Borders to help the war-torn country of Guatemala redevelop simple infrastructure in rural areas, one village at a time. Hannah Kim presents a policy perspective on what it means to have water declared a human right and what will need to be done to achieve already existing goals.

On the more technical side, Dow Water & Process Solutions’ Denise Haukkala and Diego Bonta give straightforward ‘how-to’ instructions for maintaining residential RO elements. Dennis Leeke of Underwriters Laboratories takes us on a tour of their facilities and explains the intracacies of water testing from start to finish. And in marketing, The WaterGroup’s Tim Sewell offers insight on making bottle-less coolers a part of the marketing strategy for all dealers.

Next month, we’ll recap Pacific Water Quality Association’s annual conference and exhibition and InterBev/IBWA. Although the conference season is winding down, there are still several events that should have dealers and manufacturers considering increased travel budgets, such as the Eastern Water Quality Association’s annual event in November, National Ground Water Association’s annual exposition in December and, of course, WQA Aquatech in March, in San Antonio, TX. Until next month, keep looking forward and taking on new projects. Expand your horizons and your business with good marketing practices and a deeper commitment to customer service. Those will be the keys to emerging from the economic downturn in a much better, stronger position.

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

 

Viewpoint

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Hydration in record temperatures

Across the country this summer, record-high temperatures, heat waves and extreme weather conditions have prevailed. Add to this the number of broken water mains that have resulted in Boiled Water Alerts and you have a recipe for disaster—or success, depending on the business you’re in!

Humans can’t live without water, and in many locations, what is available is hardly potable. To meet the needs of these areas, bottled water is a mainstay, while efforts to create infrastructure grind slowly forward. It’s a valuable and convenient product that many rely on when there is nothing else available. Considering safety and health issues, Mike Marovksy of Haws Corporation presents an interesting article on hydration that should be read by industry employees and managers alike.

In the US and some European markets, the price for bottled water’s success has been an increasingly hostile environmental challenge, legislative action, bans, taxation and who knows what else. That may be changing, as some of those bans (and potential bans) have either been nullified or are on hold pending reassessment. Local government entities are rethinking the logistics of water availability if they remove the bottled water option at many public venues and government-sponsored events. The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) has been in the trenches, literally, fending off challenge after challenge, in a tireless effort to protect their members’ ability to do business and promote a healthy alternative to the sugar-laced, soft-drink industry.

While IBWA’s efforts have paid off, another shift has taken place. Bottled water of the five-gallon variety has regained some market share, while newer, bottle-less water coolers have steadily ascended as must-have equipment in a larger number of businesses and offices. To meet some of this new demand and create additional revenue streams, traditional water treatment dealers have added bottled water delivery or water cooler service to their offerings. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, as Chester Paul’s Scott Bailey notes in his primer on how to successfully take advantage of the opportunities in the water cooler business. There’s more to it than meets the eye.

Rick Andrew goes over a few facts for getting systems certified in this month’s Water Matters column, while Ted Fay of Culligan, International offers insights for manufacturers marketing systems to dealerships. Gene Rabinski, Ph.D. covers biological safety in drinking water that makes its way into bottled water and water coolers. Susan McKee of Advance Chemicals presents an article on cooler disinfection, and Aquafine Corporation’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Ismail Gobulukoglu and colleagues, give an in-depth presentation on UV disinfection for the beverage industry. On a lighter note, Kelly Thompson examines how big-box stores can actually be a positive influence on the industry. Thompson’s years of industry experience are re-channeled into a creative and motivational consultancy for dealers and manufacturers. His travels take him everywhere, including the recent Michigan WQA event, which Thompson recounts with wry humor.

A noteworthy event that could have far-reaching implications for all water markets is the July 29 United Nations non-binding resolution that asserts water is a human right. This is a symbolic gesture designed to motivate governments to act in the best interest of their populations by providing infrastructure for adequate water and sanitation. But is it feasible to call a dwindling resource a right? Much debate will take place without a clear-cut determination; one person’s right becomes another’s market. One lament of activists and environmentalists who tried to derail the bottled water industry with the right-to-water argument is that marketing water is wrong. These same proponents will have to come to grips with the very real financial equation that funds pipes and valves and tanks and meters and whatever else goes into producing readily available, potable water to the masses. As author Robert A. Heinlein was fond of saying, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

The UN’s proclamation will no doubt foster a sense of social responsibility in some larger organizations that have remained on the edge of commitment to long-term projects in underdeveloped regions. It will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds, as industrialized nations determine that pricing water as a commodity to preserve it for current and future generations becomes the norm. This could be a bellwether discussion for the water treatment industry as a whole, as the expansion of production requires more than symbolic pronouncements. Quality is every bit as important as quantity, and at all levels.

Kurt C. Peterson, Publisher

Viewpoint

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Seasons change…should product lines change as well?

Summer is in full swing, the temperatures are rising and everyone seems happy to bid the cold winter weather goodbye. The change of seasons, albeit a little late this year, could be the signal to invest some time in business changes as well. Are you taking advantage of the slump to regroup your efforts, possibly adding product lines that are outside of the traditional water treatment spectrum?

Americans buy when emotional cues are right. Dealers and manufacturers can provide the impetus for consumers to look at a product package with a wider angle, to view additional offerings as complimentary rather than competitively, especially when environmental concerns are prevalent. The focus on environmental sustainability can contribute much to the industry, through enhanced products and innovative technology.

Reawakened conservation attitudes and the premise of climate change, in addition to a new sense of frugality, have all helped to motivate people to consider previously ignored opportunities. There’s never been a better time to educate the masses about water treatment benefits and how they relate to the environment, to embrace changing attitudes and be the first to show consumers how to become good water citizens. But there’s more to the environment than water. What about air quality? Several companies tout the benefits of expanding product lines beyond the traditional, with emphasis on rainwater harvesting, water reuse and air purification systems and equipment. Many dealers have found air quality to be a companion industry, one whose products are well received by ecologically motivated consumers. Moving away from a single product, system or treatment problem is an approach that could be the difference between red and black ink on the balance sheet.

Contributing Editor David Martin investigates the melding of the air and water treatment industries in Creative Marketing, while Will Kirksey examines water reuse, another aspect of sustainability that is gaining traction with communities around the country. Marianne Metzger offers insight into yet more regulation of contaminants and how it affects the water treatment industry. With the emphasis on contaminant removal very much in the news lately, reverse osmosis is often the treatment of choice. Tom Cartwright and Gary Battenberg cover some commercial aspects of RO installations, while Tom Palkon and Andy Warnes give an in-depth account of the US EPA purifier certification process.

Heightened awareness of water scarcity is just beginning to be felt in the US and coupled with the move toward greater conservation of our precious but limited resource, now may be the best time to offer a broader product line. Change comes slowly to most industries—those who have the fortitude to make difficult decisions quickly will lead the way into the next generation of water treatment options.

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

Viewpoint

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Seasons change…should product lines change as well?

Summer is in full swing, the temperatures are rising and everyone seems happy to bid the cold winter weather goodbye. The change of seasons, albeit a little late this year, could be the signal to invest some time in business changes as well. Are you taking advantage of the slump to regroup your efforts, possibly adding product lines that are outside of the traditional water treatment spectrum?

Americans buy when emotional cues are right. Dealers and manufacturers can provide the impetus for consumers to look at a product package with a wider angle, to view additional offerings as complimentary rather than competitively, especially when environmental concerns are prevalent. The focus on environmental sustainability can contribute much to the industry, through enhanced products and innovative technology. Reawakened conservation attitudes and the premise of climate change, in addition to a new sense of frugality, have all helped to motivate people to consider previously ignored opportunities. There’s never been a better time to educate the masses about water treatment benefits and how they relate to the environment, to embrace changing attitudes and be the first to show consumers how to become good water citizens.

But there’s more to the environment than water. What about air quality? Several companies tout the benefits of expanding product lines beyond the traditional, with emphasis on rainwater harvesting, water reuse and air purification systems and equipment. Many dealers have found air quality to be a companion industry, one whose products are well received by ecologically motivated consumers. Moving away from a single product, system or treatment problem is an approach that could be the difference between red and black ink on the balance sheet.

Contributing Editor David Martin investigates the melding of the air and water treatment industries in Creative Marketing, while Will Kirksey examines water reuse, another aspect of sustainability that is gaining traction with communities around the country. Marianne Metzger offers insight into yet more regulation of contaminants and how it affects the water treatment industry. With the emphasis on contaminant removal very much in the news lately, reverse osmosis is often the treatment of choice. Tom Cartwright and Gary Battenberg cover some commercial aspects of RO installations, while Tom Palkon and Andy Warnes give an in-depth account of the US EPA purifier certification process.

Heightened awareness of water scarcity is just beginning to be felt in the US and coupled with the move toward greater conservation of our precious but limited resource, now may be the best time to offer a broader product line. Change comes slowly to most industries—those who have the fortitude to make difficult decisions quickly will lead the way into the next generation of water treatment options.

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

Viewpoint

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

No vacation for the industry

The temperatures are heating up but the sales aren’t. Do you decide to take a break from trying to recover from the last two years of dismal business or work harder? It might seem like an easy choice to make but most have to justify their reasons to a higher authority. Whether it’s the owner or team leader, or possibly a supplier or creditor, the decision you make now can have lasting implications.

One thing that resonates across the employment spectrum is the change in quality of applicants for various job types. It’s not uncommon to hear dealers say how hard it is to find someone willing to take on more mundane tasks, invest more of themselves in the job or just care about the product they turn out. Or, it’s a case of being burned by an employee who had such great potential…until a better offer came along. Younger employees believe they have a right to time off, higher wages and full benefits, just because they show up for work, and older ones believe they’ve earned their stripes after working for two or three decades. Where is the sense of loyalty and work ethic?

It evaporated over the past two generations or so. Instant gratification replaced willingness to earn one’s way. Companies concerned more about the bottom line than investing in (and keeping) good employees led the way, seeking more creative ways to lessen overhead costs. Like everything else, the trickle-down effect helped create an ambivalent workforce locked in combat with itself.

Prospective employees, now more numerous and skilled than for the past five decades, are finding it harder to present the face of loyalty when they feel like a casualty. But, they are more likely to work harder to prove themselves to wary employers because it’s not getting any better out there, in spite of Wall Street’s seeming recovery. Mom- and-pop shops can’t just close down for a vacation because the season has changed and expect the same attitude from their employees. Big outfits have more latitude but might not be able to swallow the loss of productivity while employees are on vacation.

Who can blame them? Tight markets don’t wait for people to return from their holiday. On the flip side, burnout isn’t any more productive. Good businesses take chances, on products as well as employees, in hope of keeping the competition at bay. Balancing the needs of the company with the needs of the workers may not seem like an important factor when everyone is trying to stay in business, but it may be the difference between a short break and a permanent unpaid vacation.

If you’re in need of a break, take it, with the understanding you will return and give the best you have to offer. Step up to the plate, as employer or employee, and realize that nothing ever got accomplished without teamwork somewhere along the way. Then get on with the business of making a profit and investing in the next five or 10 years. Oh, and stop to smell the roses before they’re gone.

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

Viewpoint

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

For years the salt debate has raged on, sparking litigation, legislation, obfuscation and some recrimination. What it should have created is innovation that could be sustained into the future. Yes, there have been some cool technological advances in the water treatment industry, but not enough to blunt the ever-rising tide of adverse action and sentiment leveled against dealers and manufacturers alike.

Placement of the US, especially the southwest, in the water scarcity category is pushing more demands for change in equipment and technology. Global warming, whether hard science favors its existence or not, continues to incite environmentalists to fight our industry. What is the answer to all who claim we are not environmentally friendly in product manufacturing or the resultant waste-stream generation of water treatment applications that California is hell-bent to claim as the next great disaster?

Change must happen to preserve the rights of businesses to continue their pursuits. We may not be able to see how much has changed in the last 50 years, nor quantify the level of commitment that has already been fostered by precarious legislation. We’re moving into the future at a breakneck pace without really analyzing how far technology has advanced the cause of consumer and businessman alike.

Let’s take a look at the next wave of change that is on the horizon, the best scientific data to bolster this industry in years: Battelle’s recent study on water softening. The reputation of the Battelle Institute lends credibility to water softener manufacturers and dealers unlike anything that has been produced in recent memory. As we learned at Aquatech, soft and fluffy is relevant but energy efficiency is of even more importance to consumers. The study is a new tool that, if used properly, could herald a much-needed change for the industry, one that produces positive results.

In their panel presentation, Vince Kent, Eric Rosenthal, Sam Karge and Bob Hague made one point clear: there must be a consistency of the message that energy efficiency and water softeners go hand in hand. Everyone, from manufacturers to consumers, is trying to find ways to save money, and energy efficiency is being placed at the top of the list. As a marketing message, it resonates with a wider cross-section than ever before, especially in these very trying economic times.

The opportunity for the water treatment industry to return to positive ground lies with each and every dealer and manufacturer. Presenting facts to consumers and legislators isn’t a one-time proposition. Those presentations must be widely used to impact the target audience and they must be credible. The Battelle study (and those that are currently in progress) may give water treatment the boost it needs to get back to the business of serving customers with what they want, without interference from legislative bodies or local ordinances. What used to be consumer choice is quickly transforming into a dedicated interest in saving money, energy and the planet. It’s a win-win opportunity to change the mindset of industry opponents well into the future.

Kurt C. Peterson
Publisher

 

Viewpoint

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Turning the corner

As we close the door on 2009, hopes and expectations for a better year can’t be more clearly needed. The challenges of the past year have been visited across the board. Now it’s time to look and move forward.

The Great Recession, as the past year’s massive decline in American fortune has been called, yields many lessons, not the least of which is finding our way back to fundamentals that first created a very profitable water treatment industry. The focus on returning to profitability must include a broader horizon in which to do more with less, and regain a foothold in the sector before a successful return to pre-2009 levels can be achieved.

“This, too, shall pass” is more relevant than ever. Economics is a treadmill of cycles, bouncing between feast and famine as the stock markets trade risk. This current down cycle is not forever. Be ready for the upswing and move quickly to reclaim your share of the market place.

Much of the water treatment industry is and has been tied to the housing market, but another venue has taken on a new mantle. Remodeling rather than up-trading is the choice of many homeowners. The contracts are smaller but no less important. Small is not a bad thing, especially if it leads to more and bigger business opportunities.

Customers are far more wary of spending their hard-earned dollars without calculating the up-front value of products and services. They are not, as previously anticipated, returning to their overly consumptive ways. In spite of historically low rates of return on savings and great wariness of investing in general, Americans are looking for value, commitment and loyalty, the basic tenets of ethical business practices.

Take the time to know your customer, and your employees. Invest as much in them as you want them to invest in you. Build loyalty with a willingness to foster change, and be at the forefront of the pack. Stand by your reputation in more than words and slogans. Be there for your customer and your employees; they will return the favor.

Every dealer and manufacturer has a vested interest in honing customer service skills, encouraging employee training, applying new technologies and expanding products, services and commitments. And what better time to do so than now? Although the economic forecast is still grim, there are glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. Be ready for that oncoming train to appear as transportation to the next level.

Starting the new year with a positive outlook, in spite of the latest dismal reports, is a small step, but an important one. Without it, there can be no movement forward, and we must move forward to end this recession. Hire, train, buy, sell. Let’s get back in the game!

Kurt C. Peterson, Publisher

 

Viewpoint

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

By Kurt C. Peterson, Publisher

Who makes the difference?

Each month, WC&P actively solicits content that will be informative and interesting to our readers. From business owners to salespeople, the collaborative effort involved in capturing (and keeping) the market’s attention is extensive. We are fortunate the pool of writing talent within this industry is vast. Who is more trusted to present water treatment content than your peers?

We realize not everyone can put his/her thoughts into the required formats of media companies. That’s where the editorial staff enters the process. We strive to help authors share their extensive industry knowledge with the widest possible audience. Is there something you want to know more about? Are you a subject matter expert? Do you occupy an industry niche that would provide specialized knowledge for our readers that isn’t available elsewhere?

Most WC&P readers are familiar with Executive Insight and Dealer Profile. Would your story bring more insight and inspiration to water treatment professionals? Have you been featured? Would you like to be? Is there a specific person or company you would like to know more about?

Companies change as business dictates. Have you added new staff or expanded your facility? Are you starting a new product line this year? Do you have a training program that would benefit others? What shows will you be hosting or sponsoring?

Look through the pages of any issue and you will notice small boxes with contact information for the various departments. Please do take advantage of the opportunity to provide us with your latest products, staff announcements and calendar notices.

Let us know who, what, when, where, why and how. We’ll keep the rest of the industry informed. With your help. None of us do it alone.

 

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