Andrew Warnes Senior Channel Manager
5730 North Glen Park Road Milwaukee, WI 53209-4403
Tel: (262) 238-4400 x4316
Fax: (530) 706-9694
Andrew Warnes, global market builder in the water treatment industry, is Senior Channel Manager for PRF (a GE/Pentair joint venture). Once a Special Operations Team Chief in the US Army, Warnes has more than a decade of experience in global water treatment and particularly enjoys launching disruptive technologies that change the way business is done. Prior to joining PRF, he was the International Director of the Water Quality Association, where he was responsible for pursuing the global interests of water treatment equipment manufacturers and served in international management positions for industry leaders Culligan and Kinetico.
He considers marrying a former customer from Brazil to be one of his greatest accomplishments. “Edna bought 2,300 diverter valves from me in a deal that led to five years of courtship, 11 years of marriage and two beautiful daughters” says Warnes, “I guess you could say we took ‘customer service’ to a new dimension.”
Warnes received his BA Degree in national security policy from Ohio State University. In 2002, he received WQA’s Award of Merit for his work on global regulatory issues on behalf of the water treatment industry. These days, Warnes tells us one of his goals in life is to avoid ever seeing his picture on the Web. “It started as a joke between friends, but these days it’s a challenge. I sometimes wonder if it’s possible to not have pictures floating out in cyberspace somewhere.”
1. How did you get started in the water conditioning and purification marketplace? What was your first job in it?
After being demobilized by the US Army, I had to find a ‘real’ job. The only preference I had was to work globally and landed at Matt-Son Inc. in Barrington, IL. It was sheer coincidence that I landed in the water field.
Matt-Son was an excellent training ground because they specialized in custom-manufactured components as well as distribution of parts, medias and thousands of other bits and pieces. I went to work on the Mazak machines tapping hubs, and on the shipping dock assembling orders as part of my training. It was the best possible learning experience for someone in this business, as I had to learn every technology and every tiny bit, piece and part that might go into a water treatment system.
That start in the business has served me very well over the years, and to this day I can still look at a machined part and, most likely, tell you the machine it was made on and the name of the operator if I’ve met them. I’ve gotten over the fact that Brett Oleskow convinced me to take a lower starting salary for six months while he trained me. He’s since told me I was the first employee to ever fall for that one.
2. How/why did you start/maintain your professional involvement?
Bill Prior of Kinetico and Brett Oleskow of Matt-Son were the two people who most guided my involvement in our industry. Both were big supporters of the Water Quality Association and of industry involvement—and both were leading the effort to build the WQA International Section. Their belief in a unified global industry with competitors working toward common goals inspired me then and still does.
3. What are you most proud of in your profession?
I am most proud of the work we did to roll out ultrafiltration systems that can make microbiological purification claims. There are millions of people around the world today receiving their first regular supplies of microbiologically safe drinking water because of what we did. And marrying this technology with solar power to go off the grid was the icing on the cake. Take a look at www.innovativeh2o.com to see what I mean.
4. What are you least proud of in your profession?
Our ongoing difficulty, as an industry, to come to an agreement on a standard for physical water conditioners. I’m also concerned that we’ll be slow to take on the challenge of setting ‘greener’ performance targets for our products. Don’t even get me started on California’s Proposition 65!
5. What gives you the most joy in your professional life?
The talent of the people I work with and seeing the ‘A-ha! moment’ when an audience I am speaking to gets what I am presenting, then builds on it in directions I never dreamed were possible. Of course, there are those days when customers call to tell me they have used products we make in ways they were never intended to be used. I live for those calls; the inventiveness and imagination of this business never fails to amaze me. We stumble across a lot of new markets that way.
6. What do you dislike most in your professional life?
Keeping my e-mail inbox and voicemail from reaching capacity before 2 p.m. every day.
7. If there were three portraits on the wall behind your desk, not of family, who would they be and why?
Bill Prior of Kinetico, because he taught me to believe in people, cultivate their talents, and to think beyond the current quarter and into the future.
Sam Karge of Pentair, because he’s brilliant but too modest to know it.
Jack Barker of Innovative Water Technologies in Colorado, because he never takes on a challenge half way, never mentions a problem without a solution, and is one of the most honest and earnest people I know.
8. If you were not in the water conditioning and purification industry, what would you be doing?
I would be a police detective.
9. Why would you do that?
People who know me know that I am intensely curious, cannot resist a mystery, and will go to incredible lengths to find the right answers. Many of my friends are policemen and it turns out they are just as curious about water as I am about their work.
10. Polish up your crystal ball…what will be the three most important issues in our industry within the next five years?
Water conservation, water re-use, and developing standards for technologies that don’t exist in the market today.