By Pat Dalee
I’m fortunate to have been an active member of the Water Quality Association (WQA) for over 25 years. I literally grew up in the water treatment industry. My father has been a Culligan dealer for over 50 years—and growing up in a small family business means everyone contributes to running it. My brother now owns the business and my sister and her husband are also Culligan dealers. As you can see, my whole family is in the water business.
Over the years, I’ve been a deliveryman, serviceman, salesman and a general manager for a Culligan corporate store and I’ve started and owned two companies in the wholesale distribution and assembly of water treatment products. My current business assembles reverse osmosis (RO) systems and water softeners and distributes components, filters and water testing equipment.
Thus, I’ve had the unique opportunity to view WQA from a dealer perspective and from the manufacturing side. I’ve seen WQA evolve from a basic water softener organization to the recognized world leader in the water improvement industry.
Growing with the times
In the last few years, the WQA has completed a cycle in consolidating the water industry. The creation of our “section” concept now provides a broad industry forum for water treatment dealers, manufacturers, consumer products and the commercial/industrial sector, representing companies that build equipment for municipalities both for treatment and wastewater. WQA now represents members who treat water for the consumer, commercial, industrial and municipal needs.
We are overcoming the problems of an easy-entry industry with strides in our code of ethics, certification of our products and certification of our personnel. WQA’s professionalism in handling attacks on our industry by regulators and others has established a respect for our industry by the governmental sector.
The establishment of the World Assembly Division has helped our manufacturers market to the international arena and our tradeshow has evolved into the world marketplace for water improvement products.
An exciting time
It truly is an exciting time to be in the water improvement business. The rising demand for water quality from increasing populations will continue industry growth and the development of integrated, global markets.
It’s equally exciting to become the new president of the WQA. A main goal of mine this year is to focus our efforts on promoting the WQA as the “go to source” for the media and the public who are seeking information to improve their water quality. Our industry offers the full range of water technologies needed to improve water at the consumer, commercial and industrial levels. Now is the time for the WQA to take a more proactive role in promoting our industry’s products and water professionals.
The WQA Public Relations Committee, chaired by Margaret Wichmann, Culligan of Lenox, Mass., and staffed by WQA Public Affairs Director Carlyn Meyer, has put together an aggressive five-year plan to promote our industry. We have added PR professionals from our major manufacturers, along with PR consultant Megan McNickel—formerly with the firm Bursenson & Marstellar—and also water dealers to our campaign, including our current WQA President Ned Jones.
Our goal this year is to capitalize on National Safe Drinking Water Week (NSDWW)—which begins the first week of May 2000—as a news vehicle to promote the following:
- The health/fitness benefits of consuming more clean, fresh drinking water and tips for including more water in your day,
- WQA “Water Awareness” home testing kits for consumers with any concerns about the quality of their home tap water,
- Utilizing and promoting WQA’s website and toll-free 800 number for consumers to obtain water awareness kits and receive information about home water treatment problems and solutions,
- A list of water treatment professionals (WQA dealers) in a consumer’s area for referrals and assistance.
The WQA has hired exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer Bob Greene as a third-party spokesperson to deliver the message of the health/fitness benefits of drinking water more water and translate it into national and regional water quality discussions. Greene is Oprah Winfrey’s personal trainer and co-author of their best-selling book, Making the Connection. Oprah and he co-wrote a chapter on the importance of water to diet and health. He’s media savvy and well known in the areas we will address. WQA and Greene will launch a television satellite tour with 18 or more interviews conducted via satellite with TV stations nationwide. Greene will also conduct interviews via phone with radio stations nationwide. We will be using his contacts and a media specialist in New York to obtain spots on network morning shows and other national talk show placements. We will also use press kits showcasing NSDWW and availability of our water awareness home water testing kits via the WQA website and 800 number for water treatment options to 1,500 daily newspaper health/home/consumer editors nationwide.
Last, but certainly not least, WQA will unveil a new consumer interactive section on its website during NSDWW events. Through it, consumers can type in either a contaminant they want to remove or a symptom of a contaminant. The site will lead the consumer to the proper technology and give the consumer a list of association members and certified personnel by state or by zip code. In the following years, we will develop methods for dealers to employ information techniques for their local newspapers, radio talk shows and civic organizations. Eventually, we look to “own” National Safe Drinking Water Week.
This year we also hope to complete our work with NSF International to reduce the industry’s cost in certifying our equipment to achieve our five-year goal to get our industry’s products certified for the claims we promote. To that end, WQA and NSF have just signed an agreement for mutual recognition of testing to ANSI/NSF standards and WQA Gold Seal certification.
Additionally, we’ll be launching the WQA Water Quality Society this year to broaden the association’s focus toward supporting professional development of individual WQA members and commercial/industrial and small system operators. This continues our efforts in establishing our industry’s capability and reliability in handling all variety of water treatment problems in the eyes of the public, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other governmental sectors.
I’m looking forward to being president of the WQA this year. I’ll be attending most of the regional trade shows throughout the year, our WQA convention and the mid-year conference. I’ll be looking for new ideas, your comments on WQA and, of course, new members. It looks to be a great year for your association and the entire water treatment industry.
WQA President 2000-2001
Patrick Dalee, president
International Water Warehouse (IWW) Inc.
4173 State St.
Santa Barbara, Calif. 93110
Tel: (805) 683-8889
Fax: (805) 683-0102
Family: Debbie, wife; son, Dustin, age 7
Hobbies: Golf, skiing
Background: Past president, Pacific WQA
Other WQA activities:
Public Relations Committee,
RO Task Force
Ozone Task Force