By Karen R. Smith, WC&P Executive Editor
This being our International issue, the staff here at WC&P has been immersed in water research from around the world. The statistics we’ve come across are fascinating in and of themselves. According to Water Aid (an international organization dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people), 40 billion working hours are lost each year in Africa to the need to carry water… Statistics Canada reports sales of inground pools in their country were up 35 percent in 2002…are you curious as to how much of Kuwait’s freshwater supply is still contaminated with oil spilled by Iraqi forces during the Gulf War? Forty percent according to Harper’s Index. Several almanacs cite that New York City has the world’s largest water supply system (derived from 1.2 million acres of watershed land) serving over nine million customers with 1.4 billion gallons daily while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s statistics (gathered from 30 member countries and more than 70 affiliate nations) show a return of $8.70 for every dollar invested in water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa—an impressive ROI in any language.
What are we to make of all this? The answers are as varied as the statistics themselves. Some suppliers have expanded into the global marketplace; others think the time to broaden local sales is now. Is it the time for statewide expansion of your efforts? Should you sell your products internationally? Does your products brochure need to be translated into more than one language when you reprint it this year?
No magazine can answer those questions for your individual business, but we can give you the information that enables you to make informed decisions on what direction to head into. While you might not see a role for your company in meeting the United Nations water and sanitation initiatives, that may be because there is plenty of opportunity right in your own backyard, whether that is in California or Moscow. The summer bred sales doldrums in some areas, drove business to new heights in others, and now the fall marketing season truly gets into gear.
Summer’s end brought one story to the forefront—the results of a University of Maryland Dental School study which found that diet soda causes the same tooth decay as the sugared varieties of pop. The National Soft Drink Association immediately pointed out flaws in the study which made the results questionable. Surely we haven’t heard the end of this one, but in the meantime water stocks got a small bump up—an unintended good consequence!
Now the autumn trade shows begin and this year many are bigger and better than ever. In addition to what these events can do for your bottom line (see Dave Martin’s article on page 20 of this issue), the synergy created at gatherings of industry professionals inspires, educates and enlightens in ways nothing else can.
While no single organization keeps hard statistics on trade show attendance, there are many that do chart the profile of the average conference attendee. Whether the industry is beef or computers, water or aviation, the overwhelming consensus is that while companies may be more selective in which and how many employees they send to shows, those attending are both better prepared and more eager to avail themselves of every opportunity that such events offer. As a result, the overall quality of every aspect of the trade show experience has improved and expanded.
Yes, the Internet offers opportunities to access information from the comfort of your home or office and travel is an expense many independents find hard to justify. Yet tradeshows offer workshops among your peers, the opportunity to interface with decision makers at every level of the industry and seminars sharing the cutting edge of science, technology and marketing. The experience of being submerged in the newest, best and brightest in the world of water will not be something you easily forget. Make the connection. You’ll be glad you did.
You’ll find copies of WC&P at all the major industry gatherings, and many of our staff and contributing authors as well. Although we cannot attend every show, the magazine can—and does. See our Upcoming Events pages for complete details of industry activities and where we’ll cross paths.