By Karen R. Smith
This year in Orlando, WQA offered a roster of courses on Saturday after the close of the tradeshow. The presentations were geared to help owners improve business performance. Simultaneously, hands-on product training was offered by the industry’s top manufacturers.
It takes an incredible commitment to ethics to open a proprietary system to a roomful of strangers who are your competitors. Yet that is precisely what Bob Hague, Hague Water Conditioning, opted to do. Both a member of the Board and the Board of Governors of the WQA, Hague put the idea simply. “It is up to each and every one of us in the industry to support ethical behavior. When an ethical dealer gets a call from a customer with a Hague appliance, that dealer will want to service it correctly. Through this class we will provide that dealer with the skills necessary to do the right thing.”
The firm’s Technical Director, Gary E. Battenberg, led the class. The top portion of two Hague water softeners and an assortment of tools were placed on each of the work tables.
Battenberg’s expertise in explaining diagnostic techniques in simple terms while keeping the class both involved and at ease was key to the success of the session.
He gave the class hypothetical problems to solve in a residential service situation; then explained, step by step, how to disassemble the softener and make repairs.
Meanwhile, down the hall, GE’s Tom Vales led a similar class through the workings of their new high efficiency electronic controllers while a team from Pentair provided training in Fleck’s 7000 residential control valves. Clack Corporation offered a Spanish language course on residential valves. HM Digital and Schlumberger Water Services rounded out the course offerings. Most presented multiple times on different products and technologies.
Business training ranged from “10 Common Tax Mistakes and How to Avoid Them” by CPA Randall Gross to “How to Hire the Best with Structured Interviews” presented by Marguerite Granat of Executive Discovery. Andrea Swiney, Marketing Manager of Aqua Finance, explained how dealerships can use consumer financing to improve their cash flow and increase profits, while William Cahill of TrackNet Fleet explained how GPS tracking works and how to use it to reduce operating costs.
The Saturday session ran from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and WQA provided lunch at the convention center for those attending, a welcome opportunity to break bread and socialize (and the cookies were excellent!). All agreed that the day’s program maximized the value of this year’s Aquatech conference.