By Ronald Y. Perez, WC&P Senior Editor

In an attempt to make its annual convention more inclusive and hoping to attract more members in the process, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) is trying an improved approach this year.

“We’re making it a friendlier event,” promises Kevin McCray, NGWA’s executive director for the past five years.

This year, the 52nd NGWA National Convention and Exposition will take place Dec. 13-15 in Las Vegas at the city’s convention center. Formed in 1948, the NGWA has about 16,100 members with 2,000 of those from 60 countries outside the United States.

Exploring a balance
Five thousand attendees are expected to visit close to 300 exhibits represented by some 250 companies. This year, the NGWA has used the motto of “Exploring New Possibilities,” which seems to coincide with the activities scheduled for the convention.

According to McCray, the idea is to “create a balance of education as well as an awareness of technologies.” And Las Vegas has a history for bolstering the turnout numbers.

In contrast, Nashville, Tenn., drew a crowd of approximately 3,500 last year. McCray said Las Vegas and Nashville will al-ternate as hosts for the NGWA convention until 2003, when the site is yet to be determined.

The attraction of Las Vegas is expected to account for a greater international presence this year. Three hundred attendees from outside the United States are set to arrive at the convention, mainly from South America and the Pacific Rim.

Perception is everything
As always, one of the primary purposes will be to discuss how people outside the industry perceive groundwater. McCray said, “Most people don’t understand what groundwater and well water are all about.” He will even speak at a convention workshop on how Hollywood looks at the water well industry. It’s all part of a grassroots level public relations campaign to get the word out about groundwater, he added.

Also stressed at the three-day event will be continued education for dealers to remain competitive in local marketplaces and overall safety in the industry. Of course, recent guidelines related to groundwater will be analyzed as well as their impact. The convention will also include a technical program.

Lights and lectures
Part of the opening festivities on Wednesday will include the First Annual Rig Lighting presented by Pulstar Manufacturing. It will be part of an outdoor light, sound and video show. Other features include the All-American Picnic (aka President’s Reception), which is free of charge, open to everyone and hosted by NGWA president Bob Reichart.

On Thursday, one of the keynote speakers will be Ken Schmidt, former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Company, who will discuss marketing lessons learned during the revival of America’s most famous motorcycle maker.

Friday will mark the debut of the McEllhiney Lecture in Water Well Technology. The presentation is designed to help water well contractors handle the increasing demand for aquifer evaluation and pump tests.

Conclusion
Having Las Vegas as a backdrop and a growing international presence should breathe more life into the groundwater contingency determined to better its image in the eyes of many. For more information, contact (800) 551-7379 or visit the website at www.ngwa.org

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