By Denise M. Roberts

WCPDec2016_Convention_AdBy now, most who will be attending the Water Quality Association’s Annual Convention and Exposition in Orlando, FL (March 28-31) will have made their hotel/flight reservations. Now it’s time to take stock of what to do when you arrive. There are always a multitude of educational seminars, certification opportunities, show-floor educational offerings, meet-and-greets…in other words, there is something for everyone. This year will be no different as the Orlando location generally draws a pretty good vendor and visitor mix. The initial event schedule can be found at the WQA website and is subject to change. The schedule included in this issue should give you a good starting point.

There’s also the chance to take advantage of local activities, such as Orlando Sea World, which is just a short distance from Hotel Row; Disney World and Universal Studios, should one wish to combine business with a family vacation and golf courses everywhere. But, we’d rather see you on the exhibition floor, so try to stop by and see us at Booth 428. For now, we’ll just highlight the general information about what you can expect and follow that up with a full, in-depth schedule in the March issue. You’ll have both before you catch your flight and we’ll have plenty of copies of both issues on hand if you didn’t get a copy.

Educational opportunities abound
There are many educational opportunities scheduled, both technical and business-related. This year’s show has a strong focus on what you need to take advantage of, the media attention around drinking water, drinking water regulations and contaminants, marketing and media as well as performance management. Help yourselves as well as your clientele by knowing more than your competition. Whether you take advantage of trade show floor education, classroom offerings or tap into the vast knowledge base of industry professionals, you will leave with more than what you had when you arrived. That should be a plus in anyone’s book.

The awards
During the opening general session, the association will honor industry members in a variety of categories with awards for their accomplishments and contributions. These annual awards recognize the movers, shakers, innovators and stalwart champions of the water treatment and improvement industry and include the following categories:

Hall of Fame Award
Entering the WQA Hall of Fame is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a WQA member. The recipient is recognized for his or her lifetime dedication and service to the water quality improvement industry and association.
Lifetime Membership Award
The Lifetime Membership Award is given to those individuals who are or have been active within the industry, have rendered exemplary service to the association and whose knowledge and accomplishments in the field of water quality entitle them to special recognition.
Key Award
Like receiving the key to a city, the Key Award recognizes a WQA member for demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership within his or her company, industry and various associations, as well as local, civic and community activities.
Ray Cross Award
Given in honor of Ray E. Cross, Water Specialist Emeritus and Past President (WCAI 1960), this award recognizes current and former WQA members whose pioneer spirit and unwavering commitment has made a notable difference in the water treatment industry and has not been previously honored with a leadership award.
Regents Award
The Regents Award is presented to an individual (or group of individuals) who has made a significant contribution at the state or local level working with issues affecting the industry such as ethics, legislation or educational efforts.
Award of Merit
The Award of Merit may be presented to more than one company, individual or organization in recognition of exceptional service given to the water quality improvement industry.
International Award of Merit
The International Award of Merit is given to an individual, organization or to more than one company that has made significant contributions to the international water quality improvement industry.
Honorary Membership Award
The Honorary Membership Award is given to an individual whose occupation is outside the industry, but whose contributions to mankind through research, dedication and exemplary service in the field of water quality is admirable.

WQA’s Board of Directors is launching a new initiative to recognize the next generation of dedicated talent within the water treatment industry. Beginning with this year’s convention, the association will honor one or more individuals, 40 years of age or younger, with its NEXT GEN award, given to up and coming water treatment professionals and business owners who have demonstrated a commitment to the water treatment industry for the betterment of the industry.

Ready to walk?
As you traverse the exposition floor, you’ll get plenty of exercise. But here’s your chance to also help your industry. Join fellow attendees and exhibitors for a 5K Fun Run/Walk on Thursday, March 30 at 6:30 a.m. to benefit the Water Quality Research Foundation. The race starts and ends in front of the Hyatt Regency Orlando. Attendees may register for and pay the $25 entry fee during the convention registration process. Contact kpantol@wqrf.org with 5K questions and to learn about exclusive sponsorship opportunities.

How to hire…or not
One of the most difficult aspects of business is finding and retaining qualified employees. Over the years, this has been a constant issue for everyone in the water treatment industry and I hear it from nearly every dealer I speak to or WC&P interviews. Some companies have novel approaches that may work for others, while some may be difficult to achieve due to company size. At the very basic level, certain changes in the American culture have also affected the dynamics of employment and how prospective employees view themselves in relation to their chosen job fields.

To address this need, WQA has launched the Career Center, with a follow-up panel discussion to be held at the annual convention. The organization has asked dealer members to take part in a special event to discuss the trials and tribulations of hiring in the millennial world, what works, what doesn’t and what might in the future. This panel discussion is designed to gain insight from industry members across the board, regardless of company size. The panel will shed light on the best practices a business can employ for the best hiring/retention results. It should be on the list of must-attend events!

It can be difficult to take advantage of everything the WQA Convention and Exposition has to offer but you shouldn’t leave empty-handed. If you are there for one day or three, do yourself a huge favor: be a part of the shindig in every possible way. Whether it’s networking or learning opportunities you seek, or checking out what products are best for your customers, the experience itself will be memorable.

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