Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Guest Viewpoint—Study benefits explained to Congress

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

By Peter Censky

This past year, the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) and WQA poured a lot of money into two key studies that will pay real dividends for our industry for many years to come. I realize that most of those who were involved in the Battelle Study and the Soap Savings Study immediately saw their benefit in helping members sell more equipment. But the real benefit of these studies goes much further than that. In September, WQA President Robert ‘Bob’ Hague, traveled to Washington DC to brief key Congressional staff about the important energy-savings benefits that come from softened water (i.e., water that has been softened to remove calcium and magnesium). In this country, 13 percent of all household expenditures go toward heating water, and those costs can be reduced dramatically by removing calcium and magnesium from the water to prevent the buildup of scale deposits in hot-water heaters. The Department of Energy was very interested to hear Hague’s report because the kind of savings he was talking about will translate into huge energy savings for the country. Soon we will be releasing another study, this one on soap savings from softening water. Again, this kind of research will help sell more softeners. But there is a bigger story that is emerging from this research. It appears that households will use dramatically less soap when doing laundry in cold water when calcium and magnesium have been removed. And, get this, clothing comes out cleaner, too. Washington needs to know that this benefit helps communities as well because it is much more costly for their waste plants to remove the excessive soap residues caused by the presence of calcium and magnesium than it is to deal with slightly higher salinity in the waste stream. This will be another subject for a visit to Washington in the coming months.

Now, you may wonder, why we would bother reporting this to Congress. Well, the answer is straightforward enough. The regulators in Washington, and in your state capitals, have been demonizing softeners for too long; they need to hear the positive side of our industry. Yes, those products do put salt in the waste stream and in some areas, this is a problem. But it’s also a fact that our manufacturers have been spending millions of dollars over the past two decades to reduce the ’salt footprint’ of ion exchange water softeners, and they’ve been enormously successful at this. Regulators and homeowners need to understand that the pollution of our waste streams from the excessive use of soaps and detergents in cold-water laundry is a costly problem for many communities. Removing calcium and magnesium from cold and hot laundry water causes consumers to use less soap. The regulatory community needs to know this. And they need to know that the country could save massive amounts of money by reducing the high energy of heating water in hard-water areas. Both of these benefits come when you eliminate calcium and magnesium from water, which is what ion exchange softening does. There are other technologies out there that claim to reduce scale, but they don’t soften water! The removal of calcium and magnesium is what leads to the benefits I’ve mentioned above. This is what our industry means by ’softened water’.

Now this is just one of the briefings we conducted in Washington within the past few weeks. In October, we again briefed key Congressional staff about our industry’s capabilities to clean up the nation’s drinking water supplies. We call this the final barrier between consumers and the multitude of emerging health contaminants that will be hitting the news in the next two or three years. You will be hearing much more about this in the months and years to come. The bottom line is that our industry provides consumers with real protections and cost savings. And just as important, we provide our communities with those same savings and protections as well.

My last point is this: you have to be a member to be able to make use of the studies and the materials we are producing. And you really need to attend the upcoming convention in March 2011 in San Antonio, Texas to get the latest information, and to see the new technologies that are going to be rolled out at the trade show. If you haven’t been to a convention in a while, I guarantee this show will knock your socks off! I hope to see you in Texas in March; it will be a very profitable experience for you!

 

 

 

 

Guest Viewpoint—WQA Aquatech USA 2010

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

By Peter J. Censky, Executive Director, Water Quality Association

During tough economic times, you probably ask yourself at least once a day: How can I cut costs without sacrificing quality?

Here’s one way. Let your industry association bring together—in one place—all the key people, fresh ideas and new technology you’re looking for. The truth is, WQA Aquatech USA 2010 is the most cost-effective way to develop relationships, learn about equipment and devices, and pick up business tips to make every dollar count. This year, the conference and exhibition will be held March 9-12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Maybe you haven’t attended WQA Aquatech USA in a long time, or even at all. Consider what you’ll find at our conference:

  • Hundreds of industry-leading business services, suppliers and manufacturers
  • Dozens of educational sessions on the trade show floor
  • Networking opportunities with more than 5,000 industry professionals

Think of it as an extraordinary opportunity to see and be seen. The exhibition is a showcase of what’s new and cutting edge in the industry, and it gives you the opportunity to learn from your competitors. You will also be offered the very best information on where the industry is headed and learn how you can take advantage of changes to grow your business.

We’ve retooled the show in many ways to meet the needs of tomorrow’s market, especially the opportunities that may await in a post-recession environment. As you may already suspect, there will be new technologies coming in the next few months, some of them almost revolutionary. This will be a pivotal year to learn about upcoming challenges and opportunities.

We are offering hands-on and practical learning as you’ve never seen it. Seven workshops are part of the full conference package. These sessions will allow you to work through various problems, from sizing calculations with fixture counts to business valuation. You will also be taking part in hands-on presentations, including pipe joining and valve teardown, and you’ll learn the latest research on water treatment technologies and contaminant detection. New this year will be industrial user-group sessions with some of the leading industrial water companies.

Strategic business planning is more critical than ever. We have a series of speakers and sessions interspersed throughout to help you run a leaner, more targeted operation. You may remember the ’Wizard of Ads,’ Tim Miles, from previous years. We received such positive feedback on Tim, we’ve asked him to be our Opening General Session speaker. (If you want a preview, visit Tim’s blog, a valuable resource for small businesses, at clarityupfront.com.) Tips on exhibiting at home shows, direct marketing, social media marketing and other business-related issues will also be offered.

If you’re looking to find out about industry advances, come take advantage of our New Product Showcase. In addition to the networking opportunities participants have come to expect, the 2010 show will introduce a revamped Industrial Water-Speed Networking session (formerly Industrial Speed Dating). This initiative will now offer two levels of participation—with poster and no-poster attendance options. The networking forum provides companies the opportunity to display their capabilities and develop and deepen relationships.

We all need to face that fact that our industry is going through a period of significant change that is touching every company. As I’ve said before, once we emerge from the worst recession in many decades, we should not expect to return to business as usual. But, I think our industry is restructuring itself to be much stronger than it was before. We see this in areas such as softening, green technologies, grey water and small systems, among others. All of these will be displayed at WQA Aquatech USA.

I hope to see you there.

For more information and to register, visit www.wqa-aquatech.com.

 

 

Viewpoint

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

By Peter J. Censky, WQA Executive Director

Part 2: Why you should attend WQA Aquatech USA in Orlando: Opportunities abound
This year promises to be our biggest and best trade show yet! We already have 59 new exhibitors. Add that to the hundreds of returning companies and we are on track to set new participation records. Can you afford to miss it? The trade show opens immediately after the Opening General Session on Wednesday and runs until 5 p.m. on Thursday; the hall is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday, it is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Our show strategy is different from most: when the floor is open, we don’t compete with it by offering simultaneous activities. Instead, we push education onto the floor in the form of mini-courses that are held in many exhibitor booths, including WQA’s. At WQA Aquatech USA, the tradeshow floor boosts the educational value. If you are accustomed to walking a trade show quickly, there will be a lot you will miss.

Meet with colleagues and experts
I know, I know, networking is an overused word. But we’ve created a networking strategy to help you profit from your time spent at the convention. The first networking event starts immediately after the trade show closes on Wednesday. Each attendee is given two free drink tickets, so get there in time and don’t miss out on making key contacts. Our strategy is to create an environment for people to converse, share ideas and make plans for later in the week. Exhibitors and attendees will all blend together to reacquaint and recharge. Another, more relaxed, networking event is scheduled for Thursday evening. There’s an additional fee, but it includes dinner, drinks and entertainment, so we think it’s a bargain.

Section meetings are, perhaps, the most novel networking events of all. Each category of membership has its own section meeting where those with similar issues and challenges get together to discuss and create plans. These meetings are valuable ways to plug into the leadership of the industry as well as your peers. Here’s the schedule: Retail Channel Section: Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. Industrial Section: Wednesday, 7:30 a.m. Manufacturers/Supplier Section: Thursday, 8 a.m. Dealer Section: Thursday, 8:30 a.m. International Section: Thursday, 9:15 a.m.

Expanded education
I know a lot of people come only for the trade show exhibition and that’s okay. But I suggest that you take a look at our educational offerings as well. Besides the technical seminars, we offer a number of classes that we can almost guarantee will improve your bottom line. Come on down and check out the business courses, science offerings and hands-on technology classes that we offer. While you’re at it, take a look at the courses that are being offered by world-class associations—AFS, AWT, IBWA, IUVA, IWF, IOA and WWEMA—that are using the WQA Aquatech USA platform to reach their own members, as well as others like you.

Bonus Saturday session
Some dealers find it hard for staff to take several days to visit a trade show. In response, we have created a new alternative for those who want to offer key employees the chance to better their business skills, see the tradeshow and gain product knowledge and service training. The show floor is open until 4 p.m. on Friday, so dealers can walk the floor that afternoon. On Saturday, we’re offering Hands-On Product Training. Exhibitors will demonstrate, educate and offer insight on their individual product lines and services. These sessions run from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Also new this year, we’re offering WQA Business Training: Tools to Run and Grow a Water Treatment Business.

The Water Opportunity Show
For those of you who haven’t been to the show recently, I hope I’ve given you multiple reasons to attend. To our regular attendees, I hope this reaffirms why this show is so important to you and our industry. Remember, if you don’t take advantage of all WQA Aquatech USA has to offer, your competitors will.

Guest Viewpoint—Article exclusive to Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Monday, February 26th, 2007

By Peter J. Censky, WQA Executive Director

Take advantage – attend WQA Aquatech USA
If you’re a regular attendee of WQA Aquatech USA, this article should serve as a reminder of exactly why you attend and alert you to some new offerings for 2007. But, if you haven’t attended The Water Opportunity ShowTM, you might be asking yourself, “Why should I take time and money to attend? What sets this event apart? What’s truly in it for me?” Or perhaps it’s been several years since your last show. What’s changed? Why attend?

Your competitors are smart. Many of them will attend WQA Aquatech USA. They’ll benefit from the in-depth education, up-to-the-minute regulatory information, hands-on training, networking opportunities and the jam-packed trade show. Shouldn’t you be there, too?

Our strategy is to provide a one-stop shop for residential, commercial and industrial water treatment and services. WQA’s education seminars and one-on-one networking events put you in touch with the top experts in every field of water treatment. This is an unparalleled opportunity to learn about and capitalize on the latest information that matters to you and your business.

Our trade show has become the place for new products and technologies to ‘strut their stuff.’ No other show in existence brings these new technologies and industry experts together under one roof in the US. There are already 59 brand-new exhibitors signed up for this convention, with two months still to go. We’ve had record-level attendance the past two years and the 2007 show is on track to beat previous numbers.

Networking options offer you the chance to make new acquaintances, gather ideas and connect with industry peers, while our education partners are the best in the world. Aside from WQA’s own offerings, this year we have content from:

  • American Filtration and Separations Society (AFS)
  • Association of Water Technologies (AWT)
  • International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
  • International Ozone Association (IOA)
  • International Ultraviolet Association (IUVA)
  • International Water Conference (IWC)
  • Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA)

That’s just a brief answer to why you should attend WQA Aquatech USA. Let me take you on a tour of the key events that you won’t want to miss at this year’s show.

Our ‘WQA Primetime’ lineup is not to be missed
We’re referring to Wednesday, March 28, as ‘WQA Primetime.’ You’ll get a quick and complete snapshot of the industry at these three prime sessions. The day kicks off with the Industry Issues Report. You’ll be briefed on every legislative and regulatory issue being tracked by WQA, learn next steps and focus on the emerging horizon. Next, the State of the Industry offers an insider’s view from one of Wall Street’s top analysts. You’ll hear details on major worldwide trends, a report on consumer attitudes and marketing changes important to our industry. There’s a reason this event was standing room only last year. The third part of WQA Primetime is the Opening General Session, featuring Water Quality Association leaders speaking on issues important to all of us. WQA will also honor the industry’s best for their outstanding contributions. Cam Marston, an expert on multi-generational relations and workplace communications, will provide a thought-provoking keynote address. Have you ever tried to figure out what makes your key employees tick? Do you know how to market to a growing, younger audience? This is your chance to find out. The information and ideas you gain from WQA Primetime will help you throughout the week and afterward, back at your business.

See you in Orlando!

Next month: Part 2, New Opportunities

It’s All Water

Monday, February 28th, 2005

By Peter Censky

New leads! New customers! New opportunities! New markets! A new and expanded trade show concept! WQA Aquatech USA 2005 plans to deliver!

The scope of the industry’s newest and largest North American trade show is very simple. Whether it’s in a farm well, a suburban home, a business or a manufacturing plant, it’s all water and our industry is tasked with the treatment of that water. To that end, our convention is not simply a trade show, it’s a Water opportunity show.

WQA and Aquatech RAI offer anyone and everyone involved in water purification something exciting. Residential, commercial and industrial markets all under one roof, a one-stop shop for dealers and manufacturers alike to explore every corner of the industry, from process to wastewater, ultrapure to drinking water.

In real terms, this means everything that piques your interest in the world of water will be represented next month in Las Vegas. It means more uninterrupted hours on the trade show floor, hundreds of cutting-edge technologies and exhibitors and access to technical seminars on a range of topics that bring all the salient water issues to one place, as never before.

We’ve listened to the dealer community and are offering new ways to combine the benefits of a trade show with the essential needs of the WQA’s annual meeting. You’ll see fewer overlaps in schedules so you’ll have more time to attend any or all of our offerings. There’s more time to explore and more avenues for networking so that you can connect with like-minded dealers, touch base with old friends and meet new ones.

We’ve also listened to the exhibitor community and incorporated their needs into this new show. A revolutionary approach to seminars and training keeps educational programs out of direct competition with the trade show floor. Our training will be in two forms: (1) the usual seminars during hours that don’t interfere with convention time and (2) mini-courses that draw upon qualified exhibitors’ expertise, providing their own educational, 20-minute courses that attendees can explore for continuing education credit on the trade show floor itself.

WQA’s certification program allows individuals the opportunity to achieve professional growth and recognition. Industry businesses benefit from WQA’s certification program because it allows them to train staff to achieve better efficiency.

If you are contemplating becoming a Certified Water Specialist, then this is the ideal event for you! There’s more than ample time to study and prepare for certification testing. WQA Aquatech USA 2005 is also the perfect opportunity for WQA-certified individuals to earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits. Multiple opportunities for certification testing are scheduled. (Please check individual sessions for CPD credit opportunities.)

Study kits for WQA professional certification and specialty exams, research and technical data, consumer information, marketing information and other professional resources are available through the WQA publications department.

Educational seminars include the latest in technical information on:

Visit the WQA booth on the trade show floor for even more exciting educational opportunities, including our ‘Meet the Expert’ sessions for face-to-face interaction with the industry’s best and brightest on the latest water business and technical issues.

The Association of Water Technologies, the International Bottled Water Association, the International Ozone Association, the International Ultraviolet Association and the International Water Conference are all contributing to the educational efforts at this remarkable show.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Forward 2004: What’s Changing About Consumer Expectations?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2004

By Peter Censky

In this article regarding our industry’s future, I want to focus on just one, and perhaps the most important, element—the consumer. There are some things we know about consumer expectations, and then there are a lot of things we think we know or we just assume. We know that, for instance, consumers like our claims to be presented clearly and simply.

Keeping it simple
They understand bad taste and bad odor or staining because claims associated with these conditions are both simple and easy to verify. This is why the vast majority of our industry’s products are sold to solve these kinds of problems. Simple, clear and honest.

But there are other factors that impact on consumer expectations, too. Science is one. As our scientists and doctors learn more about health threats in our environment, this information finds its way into the media and, from there, into regulations and laws. The consumer plays a role in this mechanism as well.

As an industry that deals with consumer conveniences as well as health and environmental issues, our challenge is to keep it simple no matter how complex our technologies may be. It’s easy to do this when our basic claim is to remove bad taste or odor or to soften water. But consumers often expect more than this. They often expect our products to also handle their health concerns.

Assessing the market
At the Water Quality Association (WQA), we’re planning to do some research on basic consumer attitudes concerning how they now perceive their water, and whether their households are on well water or a municipal system. We want to understand the level of consumer sophistication concerning health contaminants, for instance, and their willingness to take on the job of treating their own water vs. buying bottled water or preferring tap water.

We think the consumer has learned a lot in the past 10 years or so. It used to be that if you sold your product using health contaminant removal claims, all you did was irritate the customer. They would then call their utility to complain that there was a health contaminant in their water. Of course, the utility would usually respond that it met all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards and the water was perfectly safe. Meanwhile, you wouldn’t have a solid sale.

Your customer was now irate and ready to cancel their purchase. All your explanations served only to add to the confusion. Just try to explain, “Yes, the city water supply meets the federal maximum contaminant levels (MCL), but their water supply does not meet the maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG)”—and that’s where your product comes to the rescue. Good luck with that message. You had just left the comfortable land of simplicity and entered the sales-killing field of complexity.

Avoiding complexity
Some of us learned the best way to make a health claim was not to make one at all. We started using words from the food industry like “wholesomeness” or we talked about quality of life issues. Contaminants, health concerns, the difference between MCLs and MCLGs—this was the land of complexity, the bane of simplicity. Besides, the consumer knew what we meant. They didn’t want too much information because it scared them, but they also wanted to know we were helping them make a good choice for their families. The USEPA unwittingly added to this problem with its requirement that cities and public utilities put out “consumer confidence reports,” or annual water quality assessments. Yeah, right!

Every household now receives an unpronounceable list of contaminants that probably aren’t in their water along with scientific notations that this or that deadly toxin was tested for and found not to be in your water in the first place. I feel confident already.

Smarter sales
In spite of all these confusing messages, we think the consumer is getting smarter. As a result, we also think the market will evolve in the next few years. Consumers are willing to take on more responsibility for their own well being. They know that water is a notoriously difficult thing to acquire, clean and distribute. We think they are ready to accept that responsibility without expecting the government to do everything for them. This means more sales and deeper penetration into urban markets.

At the same time, municipalities are beginning to think outside the box. Our products and technologies are beginning to look like solutions for some of their most difficult problems. This holds great potential for additional sales. Still, we have a long way to go before they’re convinced we represent a partnership rather than a threat. Consumer attitudes will have a lot to do with how fast this transition takes place.

Conclusion
Our technologies may lead the way, but consumer expectations remain the engine that will drive change. We’re convinced there’s a revolution taking place—one that will change the way we communicate with our customers. But facts are necessary for us to know what words to use and how to present our claims. That’s what our research will hopefully provide us.

The future will happen whether we try to understand it or not. Those who have the best data on consumer thinking will be better prepared to deal with that future.

About the author
Peter Censky has been executive director of the Water Quality Association since 1987. The WQA can be reached at (630) 505-0160, (630) 505-9637 (fax), email: info@mail.wqa.org or website: www.wqa.org

 

Forward 2003: Whither Goes POU/POE in the Larger Water Treatment Industry?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2003

By Peter Censky

The water industry’s immediate future will be simply a straight-line projection of what has been happening for the past few years. The problem is a lot of people I talk to have been denying the changes that have been happening, or fighting them in their own minds. That’s a dangerous thing to do. Reality is what it is; we have to deal with it. Let’s examine a little of that reality.

First of all, let’s talk about this industry. We’ll start out with the first dose of reality—this isn’t an industry. Bottled water is not an industry. Neither is POU/POE… nor commercial water treatment… nor municipal water treatment. None of them are separate industries.

We are all segments or channels to market or specialty markets—but none of these segments qualifies to be an industry. The true water industry is something much larger. It encompasses all of these segments and others too. It’s important to understand this because it has implications for every business in every segment of this industry.

The “true” water industry is coming together fast and furiously. GE’s purchase of Osmonics in November is just another small chapter in the continuing consolidation. What happens in the consumer market eventually percolates upward into the commercial and industrial (C/I) markets, and what happens in the C/I markets eventually leaks down into the consumer market. Everything is interconnected or soon will be. For example, if we can’t fix our salinity discharge issue at the household level then eventually the municipalities will fix it at the source level—and the market could evaporate.

There is a new wave of consolidation taking place, but this consolidation is different from the past. Then, companies were just buying up other companies and either merging them into existing operations or running them “as is.” Now, it’s different. Companies are trying to figure out how to rationalize the various businesses they own. Fitting a dealer business with a retail business with a commercial business is a lot tougher than it sounds.

Yet there are certain common denominators:

  • Much of our equipment requires on-site service and expertise. So the idea that dealers are a dying breed isn’t entirely valid. But there is some truth to it. Dealers have to change to survive. Here’s a clue—if you’re still doing business today the same way you did 10 years ago, you are in trouble!
  • Training, education, certification—repeat—training, education, certification. This is the mantra. Product quality, customer satisfaction, profit—these are all controlled in the end by people on the ground with the customer. You can’t judge your business by your home office. Dealers, service people, downstream resellers—these are the people who control your quality, customer satisfaction and profit.
  • There’s latent demand building up in our economy for clean water options. That’s the good news. The bad news for some is that recessions have a way of restructuring an industry. Rich Clack, of Clack Corp., tells the story about the lawnmower industry. It entered a long drought (and its own private recession) and, when it came out of it a few years later, dealers found that new manufacturers had entered the business through the retail channel. Gone were the old style lawnmowers that would last 12 to 15 years (with dealer service, of course). Now the consumer could buy a mower for less than $200 dollars, use it for a few years, throw it away and buy a new one. There’s a lesson here. It’s already happened to the household water market.

All demand is ultimately consumer demand; and the studies I’ve seen suggest that, as attitudes change, so too will sales pick up. The latent demand for our products is incredible. There is a realistic, strong potential that some day soon nearly every household will have more than one water treatment device installed or in use. And this will naturally extend to offices and other commercial entities. Industrial water treatment, desalination, high purity and many other specialty applications are already widely accepted. Yet the growth potential for them is huge, too.

Someday soon we are going to be an industry. And when that happens the WQA will be serving the needs of its members in these many and varied channels, markets and applications. Why? It’s simple. Companies like yours cannot afford to belong to three, four or five different associations to represent your needs. This kind of duplication is not only costly; it works at cross-purposes with your needs. Now is the time for all of us to come together for our own good.

About the author
Peter Censky has been executive director of the Water Quality Association since 1987. The WQA can be reached at (630) 505-0160, (630) 505-9637 (fax), email: info@mail.wqa.org or website: http://www.wqa.org.

Foreword 2002: Keeping Plugged in a Positive in Trouble Times—A Global Effort

Sunday, January 13th, 2002

By Peter Censky

If you’re like me, you can’t escape the deluge of information about the war on terrorism. And you also can’t escape the nagging thought that a lot of what we used to consider normal has changed, perhaps forever. Change was sweeping over our industry long before Sept. 11. A number of trends have been working in tandem to propel our industry forward and the leadership of Water Quality Association (WQA) is busy focusing your association’s activities on programs that will meet your needs in the coming months.

Terrorism
Terrorism is something that our customers will be troubled by for a long time to come. WQA is aware of discussions by some cities about the possibility of stockpiling POU treatment equipment in case of a future terrorist incident. This is just the start. Although the initial boost in consumer interest in our industry’s equipment has slowed a little since Sept. 11, it’s clear our industry has a role to play in the future.

WQA has taken a leadership position in working closely with NSF International, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to determine what our members can legitimately say about the capabilities of our products to reduce or eliminate some or many of the chemical or biological substances that could be used in a terrorist attack. This isn’t an easy job. Products are tested by challenging them with the actual chemical or bug they are meant to reduce. Otherwise, we would have to find a surrogate material. Since it’s illegal (and extremely dangerous) to possess biological warfare or chemical warfare agents, we cannot do that kind of testing—so no standards exist and none are likely to be written anytime soon. We’re working closely with NSF and a number of experts and scientists with knowledge about these chemical or biological agents to help us determine what claims our members can ethically make regarding our industry’s capabilities. WQA members should stay tuned for faxes and newsletters on this subject. In the meantime, log on to our website (www.wqa.org) for the most current version of our statement concerning this subject.

A great deal of information on this and other topics will be presented at our annual convention and exposition during the first week in March in New Orleans. We’ve scheduled a major education session to focus on the issues related to terrorism and how they’ll impact our industry. We’ve lined up some very interesting and very connected speakers to address the subject. There has never been a more important WQA convention to attend.

There are a lot of other issues and developments our industry will be facing this year. Let’s cover a few:
    
Plumbing codes
Of the many plumbing code issues in recent years, one that keeps surfacing is fixture flow rates. A number of plumbing codes use a formula for computing pipe size requirements based on the number of fixtures in the home. We’ve demonstrated that this formula is outdated and a study is under way in Wisconsin to verify this to plumbing code bodies. This will help overcome some code restrictions that call for larger (and less salt efficient) equipment than necessary.

Septic field discharge is a related issue troubling some members. The septic field industry is intent on ignoring information we developed years ago that showed softener discharge isn’t harmful to these systems. We’re leery of spending a couple hundred thousand dollars on research just to have it ignored again by the septic industry and health officials. This year, WQA staff is exploring different options to try to resolve the issue but experience has shown it won’t be soon.

Educating plumbing and health officials is perhaps one of our best tools for resolving plumbing code-related matters. WQA will be providing education to them at their state meetings whenever possible. This kind of outreach goes far in improving relations with these key people.

Public relations
Increasing public awareness of our industry’s benefits is a big mission of WQA. This coming year, we’ll continue our successful public awareness program featuring Bob Greene, Oprah Winfrey’s fitness trainer. This program will provide each of our member companies with opportunities to expand sales. Remember to watch the WQA website for updates.

It’s important for each WQA member to know that every day about 1,000 consumers, reporters and business people log onto our website where they have access to hundreds of documents about the industry—and to our entire membership list, another very valuable membership benefit.

Government relations
Government relations and standards work is one of the core functions of WQA. As the industry’s spokesman to government agencies and legislative bodies, we maintain close contact with the USEPA, CDC, U.S. Department of Commerce, Congress, and numerous state government officials. We track legislation in all 50 states on the lookout for threatening issues. This can be tricky because bills sometimes move very rapidly through a legislative body. That’s why we supplement our computer searches with input from members throughout the country who alert us when they foresee important legislation.

Typically, in any given year, a number of states are active legislatively; but California seems intent on taking the grand prize for most legislative initiatives. This past year alone we dealt with issues involving chromium, health claims for chlorine, Proposition 65 and, of course, the brine discharge issue. This is the year that softener companies operating in California must prepare for another wave of difficulties from communities trying to control the content of their waste discharge. We’ve won important battles in the past that require cities to undertake comprehensive studies of the brine makeup in their discharge with the intent that all sources must be regulated, not just our equipment. Getting cities to follow the law, however, may prove difficult. These problems may start again in January 2003.
    
European issues
In Europe, the softener standard is stalled because of the contentious debate over heterotrophic (HPC) bacteria. The issue isn’t just European; it could affect the entire industry worldwide. That’s why we, and a number of our member companies, are helping to fund the World Health Organization (WHO) Conference on HPC, which is being organized with the help of NSF. We have to get to the facts on this issue and all of us, here and in Europe, must be willing to live with what the scientists tell us. The conference takes place in April and I only hope we can make progress on the European standard after that meeting is over.

China        
Our manufacturers who are looking to export into Asia will be happy to know that we had a very positive conference with the Health Ministry of the Peoples Republic of China in November. The conference in Beijing was attended by WQA, NSF, the USEPA and WHO. It was sponsored by WQA member Access Business Group (formerly Amway) and the Chinese Health Ministry. During the conference, it became apparent the Chinese officials were very willing to work with the industry to develop test standards similar to NSF standards.

Trade shows & conferences
Trade shows and education conferences are a big part of WQA’s value proposition to its members. We’re looking closely at options for improving that value for manufacturers, dealers and other buyers. Our education offerings at the convention have become enormously successful, serving hundreds of individuals each year. Education is key to the future of the industry. To survive and prosper in the future, employees have to be trained not just in the products offered but in all aspects of the industry. Your competitor’s employees will have that training and it will set them apart.

To make it easier for you to get the training needed, WQA is launching a new program to deliver high-value education programs to locations that will be close to large clusters of our members. Log on to our website to get the information as we develop the target locations. In the past, it hasn’t been necessarily easy at times to attend many of the seminars. They were often held at resort locations or remote vacation spots. These would attract the family vacationers and golfers but they weren’t “user friendly” for the bulk of our members. So, we hope to change that beginning this year.

Conclusion
There’s a lot more going on at WQA that I wish I could tell you, but space and time prevent me. In closing, let me remind everyone, “No man is an island.” No business survives without information. WQA is your best source. Stay plugged in.
 
About the author
Peter Censky has been executive director of the Water Quality Association since 1987. Censky is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. The WQA can be reached at (630) 505-0160, (630) 505-9637 (fax), email: info@mail.wqa.org or website: www.wqa.org

Forward: One Man’s Word is Another’s Opportunity

Monday, January 15th, 2001

By Peter Censky

What follows is my personal opinion and not necessarily the opinion of individual members of my board or of the Water Quality Association itself. These opinions are based on trends that I see and information I come across as executive director of the association. It’s important to know that I could be wrong. It’s happened before. It’s also important to realize that I might be right—or partially right. And, if I am, then this information is important to factor into your plans for the future.

Whether you are the CEO of your company, marketing manager, sales manager or you do it all as owner of a dealership—you need information. Sometimes that information comes in the form of opinions. This is one of those times.

Consolidation & new channels
Our industry continues to go through change. Some would call these changes “consolidation,” but I’m no longer sure that this is the best word to use. Of course, a number of companies continue to buy up smaller ones, sometimes for the purpose of opening new channels to market or gaining a bigger share of an existing channel. When that happens, consolidation is taking place. But there are new entrants to the industry each year and some of these are whole new channels to the consumer. Is it “consolidation” when new channels to market emerge and new competitors enter the market? Take, for instance, the faucet manufacturer’s product lines. A few years ago there were no “in-the-faucet” products, but now nearly every manufacturer offers at least one model. This isn’t consolidation. Nor was it consolidation when Brita entered the industry and created an entirely new product—pour through carafe—and channel to market—department stores.

By now, we’re all aware of the joint venture between the San Jose, Calif., water utility and Kinetico. They aren’t offering a new product, but this joint venture certainly is testing a new channel to market. Within the next few months, we’ll hear that more utilities are going to start selling water softeners and reverse osmosis (RO) equipment. Certainly, not every city or utility will eventually try to sell equipment, but some will. And, of those that do, a number will fail miserably, some will barely succeed and others will be quite successful.

Bright side for dealers
I don’t think these changes necessarily mean that existing dealers will lose out in the end. Softeners and iron filters are different from most drinking water filters in that they are more difficult to service. I’ve heard water utility managers refer to hard water as “problem water.” Most utility managers are smart enough to realize that selling, installing and servicing softeners is a specialized business that they aren’t set up to do.

This fact reinforces the importance of the dealership. Many consumers feel that convenience and dependability are at least as important as price. In fact, the next big trend in home center retailing can be seen in stores like Expo. There, the business model puts the customer in touch with local contractors and service companies to handle whatever chore the customer has. This new trend also reinforces the importance of the dealer.

Privatization and you
Privatization is another change that I’ve spoken about before. Unfortunately, some people also have misunderstood what that word means. Privatization has nothing to do with utilities selling point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water treatment equipment. What I spoke of in the preceding paragraph is not “privatization.” Privatization is when a public utility sells or contracts with a private company to run the utility. In the beginning, little appears to change at the utility except that some economies of scale and savings are realized. It’s important for dealers to understand this because although their market doesn’t appear to change as a result of the privatization of the utility, a very important but subtle change in attitude may have taken place. Simply put, private utility operators are driven by profit; after all, they’re companies, not governmental entities. In time, this attitude change at the utility level could lead them to become competitors.

Or they could become collaborators! Here’s the important thing to understand—these utilities still have to acquire the product, install it, service it and handle consumer inquiries. They don’t know how to do that—but you do. If ever there was an opportunity to jump on, this is it. The other thing you need to understand and believe with all your heart is this—the market is not finite! The untapped potential market is huge. The entry of these new competitors doesn’t necessarily slice the same pie into ever smaller pieces; rather, it grows the pie.

Best available technology
There’s news in other areas, too. Take for instance the issue of arsenic. The American Water Works Research Foundation has proposed a study to determine how (not if) POU/POE water treatment technologies can be used to treat arsenic by municipalities. WQA is working with others to propose a study to validate not only that the equipment can do the job but, more importantly, that servicing and maintaining the equipment is easily accomplishable. In fact, it’s something that our members do every day. There are many thousands of communities that will need this kind of treatment and for the first time in history the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is contemplating doing the necessary treatment in each home.

Conclusion
Who’s better situated to partner with the utilities—be they private or public—than you? Who would be better situated to partner with companies like Expo? No one knows more about the art or science of treating water in the home than you. As these changes occur look at them as opportunities, not threats. Today’s trends all suggest to me that the dealer will flourish in the future on the strength of training and expertise, service and dependability as well as a good product line. Of these, your main advantages are your knowledge, dependability and flexibility to react more quickly in the marketplace. Have at it.

About the author
Peter Censky has been executive director of the Water Quality Association since 1987. Censky is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. The WQA can be reached at (630) 505-0160, (630) 505-9637 (fax), email: info@mail.wqa.org or website: http://www.wqa.org

Forward 2000: Now More Than Ever, An Industry in Transition

Saturday, January 15th, 2000

By Peter Censky

I’ve decided to take a longer view for my article this year. I’m going to look ahead to the next decade or so, because I really think we’re going to see some massive changes in our industry during that time. These predictions may not prove to be correct, but at least they’ll give you an opportunity to do some alternative thinking about the future of the point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water treatment technology industry.

Here’s what I think is coming in the next decade or so:

  • The municipal water industry will be largely privatized (sold or leased to private companies),
  • There will be a merger of the municipal and POU/POE markets, and
  • Municipal systems will adopt a two-tier treatment concept—at the central plant and again at the home.

These are just words on paper right now; but, if these predictions turn out to be even partly true, the implications for our industry are enormous. Before much of this can take place, some thinking has to change. And this won’t be easy. It’s easier to invent a new technology and build a new business than it is to change old ways of thinking. But change will come, if my guess is right.

Words to deeds
Here’s how I think this will happen. First, a rather severe cyclical economic downturn has to occur. Let’s call it what it will be: a recession. It will last long enough to eat into the tax revenues of nearly every municipality in the country. Over the past decade or so cities have added new programs, new employees and lots of other costs, thanks to this amazing long running economic boom we’ve had. But when the downturn comes, these local government entities will be looking for solutions to cut costs and increase revenue.

One solution that’s being experimented with today in some large cities is privatization of water and wastewater systems. This is the second step in the process. Cities will realize a profit from the sale or lease of their water systems and a cut in personnel and maintenance costs as they turn their systems over to private operators.

Third, privatization will bring efficiencies and will uncover revenue opportunities that the private company will use to pay down the purchase cost of the system. Cities don’t run water departments like businesses; they are departments, just like the sanitation, parks, police and fire departments currently in place. But companies will see the monthly or quarterly billing cycle for what it is—a revenue stream. They’ll look at the hookups as customers and the mailing lists as sales vehicles.

Utilities and POU options
This is already happening among municipal utilities, but it will accelerate when they go private. Just look at the private utilities in Connecticut to see how this attitude will pervade the market. Those companies have surveyed their customers and found that 30-to-40 percent complain about the taste of their water. As any profit making company would do when it finds that its product has such a high negative associated with it, the utilities have started offering POU water treatment device options to their customers. They haven’t sold many, but they have removed one of the psychological barriers to our industry’s products.

The fourth step will be an enormous leap for the municipal industry and for POU/POE as well. Up until now, I haven’t mentioned technological innovation or major systems improvements. I’ve talked primarily about the advances that will come in privatizing the utilities, harvesting the profits in the revenue stream and satisfying customer needs. This fourth step will involve a complete shift in the way municipalities think of water treatment. Out will go the old paradigm—treat it at the plant, pipe it to the hookup. In will come the new paradigm—treat it at the plant, pipe it and treat it again at or near the point of end use.

This new paradigm will be the hardest to accomplish because it involves new ways of thinking. As I said before, it’s easier to invent new technology than it is to change old ways of thinking. This is the point at which the municipal water treatment industry will begin to truly merge with the consumer POU/POE industry. The companies in this industry won’t be necessarily be owned by the municipalities or the privatizers. Rather, there will be a merging of concepts, as an old friend of mine says.

Concept merging
The experimentation for this new paradigm is taking place today and its being driven by our industry and by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). I believe that change doesn’t come from the center, it comes from the edges. The municipal treatment industry—both municipalities and privatizers—comprise the center today; the POU/POE industry comprises the edge. Those companies that are experimenting with small systems today are going to pave the way for the new paradigm shift of the future.

Today’s great experimental lab is in the small systems marketplace. That’s where the government regulators and our companies are working out the management systems, quality control systems, regulations and financing systems that must be in place to insure that the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act are met for every citizen.

Think about this idea for a moment: Technology isn’t the great hurdle that some people in government think it is. Our companies are creating new technologies and constantly perfecting old ones all the time. The only hurdles are in the area of service, quality assurance and regulation. All of these are manageable and changeable. So we can assume that small systems applications will be widely accepted by the regulators in time and they’ll be installed in hundreds of communities over the next few years.

Compliance spending
So how do small systems and municipal systems correlate in the future? Well, this will take a little bit of an explanation but it basically comes down to money. The American Water Works Association estimates that municipalities must spend more than $380 billion in the next few years to come into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). That estimate really only covers the repairs and upgrades to the existing water treatment plants and distribution systems. It doesn’t account for the new technologies that will have to be installed at the central treatment plants to meet the current and future demands brought about by the SDWA. Remember the old paradigm that all contaminants must be removed at the central plant.

Remember, too, that all municipal systems leak water from their distribution plants. A rule of thumb is that on average 10 percent of all water is leaked in many systems. And remember the most important numbers: at least 98 out of every 100 gallons of municipal water that’s treated to drinking water standards are flushed down toilets, used to wash floors, cars, dishes, or used to water the lawn. The old paradigm asks the consumer to spend more money to treat all the water to the ever-increasing demands of the SDWA while 98 percent of it is never consumed.

So, doesn’t it just make sense that once we learn how to run a small system to the regulators satisfaction we should be able to provide that same level of service to the drinking water taps of consumers in large cities? Isn’t a neighborhood in a big city just like a small system? We can treat the water at the main distribution pipe or at the tap. Makes no difference to us—we’ve got the technologies and the know-how.

Binary treatment
This will come to pass someday because the simple reality is that you can’t centrally treat all 100 gallons of water economically to meet the standards that exist to cover the two gallons that are consumed; and, you can’t send high purity water through the distribution system because it will corrode the pipes. So there has to be a two-tier treatment system in the future.

You may be asking where today’s POU/POE water treatment businesses fit in this vision of the future. There will be plenty of opportunity in the future for companies to survive and prosper. The successful water company of the future will be one that diversifies, realizing that service is a revenue opportunity and that credibility, service and professionalism are the three primary attributes of a survivor.

Conclusion
Diversification today is the key to success in the future. There are dozens of companies that will attest to the fact that if they hadn’t expanded into new endeavors and embraced new ways of doing business, they wouldn’t be around today. Dealers have to see themselves in a whole new light. If they can, they should get into bottled water or explore the light commercial market.

Simply clinging to the old ways that were successful in the past won’t be the ticket to success in the future. We hear it from financial advisors everyday—diversify, diversify, diversify! Spread your risk and enhance your profits. Your association involvement at the local level through state and regional chapters can help keep an eye out for opportunities that may at first seem threatening to your business but could turn out to be the paradigm your enterprise has been looking for.

About the author
Peter Censky has been executive director of the Water Quality Association since 1987. Censky is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. The WQA can be reached at (630) 505-0160, (630) 505-9637 (fax) or email: info@mail.wqa.org

WQA Show 2000: An opportunity you can afford

Have you thought of attending the WQA Convention & Exhibition in Long Beach, Calif., March 2000—but see it as too expensive? Have another look.

The Water Quality Association is making its convention affordable for the small dealer. For the first time, this year’s convention will offer attendees the option of paying for a single seminar instead of a whole day package. Individual seminars will cost only $30.

In addition, WQA has compiled a list of less expensive hotels within the Long Beach area. While WQA staff has not visited each of these sites, many are nationally known chains. Most are a short ride to the convention center.

So, don’t miss this great opportunity to see new products, talk with industry experts and attend educational sessions on topics such as basic water chemistry, sanitizing equipment, RO installation, treating waterborne pathogens, emerging technologies, arsenic reduction and how to build a strong dealership.

With all it has to offer, the WQA show is a bargain you can’t afford to miss. Take advantage of this year’s bargain rates. Plan now—and register before Feb. 22 to get the discounted pre-convention registration rate. Call (800) 749-0234 or (630) 505-0160 for more details.

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