The Power of Imagination

One year ago, WQA had canceled its in-person annual convention and was making plans to host its Mid-Year Leadership Conference online. At the same time, we were battling for the industry in a survival game where the stakes were high, rules were ever-changing and the world we knew had transformed overnight. The industry stepped up quickly and was broadly identified as essential. The value of our industry was emphasized in a big way as we began to see consumers focus on the quality of their water as stay-at-home orders were extended for those many months.

As I have reflected on the past year, a few things have become clearer to me. Number one is that people mean everything. Human connections were ignored by so many in our society pre-pandemic, whether on a personal or professional level, and now are highlighted as invaluable. That thirst for real, in-person interaction is clear. It’s why the WQA Board decided to press ahead with an in-person Convention in Las Vegas, NV, in July.

I’ve also been thinking about how the industry is stronger than ever. Initially, there was so much uncertainty for everyone. But not only have we survived, we’re stronger than before. We’re also confident that those industry segments that have struggled will be positioned to grow as the economy opens back up. The challenge moving forward is to not only sustain the growth, but to build on those successes.

We need to make sure we’re building brands and spreading the word about the industry. That is why we launched our new consumer website, BetterWaterToday.org, this past year to help consumers become more aware of POU and POE water treatment options. It’s also why our new Consumer Opinion Survey released in May (https://www.wqa.org/resources/consumer-opinion-study) is so important for members to understand what consumers are thinking and how we can better serve their needs.

We also simply cannot be afraid to fail. Go ahead, make a mistake, try something new, think outside of the box. You’ll learn a lot and might even surprise yourself and others. We need to open our minds to think more diversely and drive creativity and innovation. We need to disrupt or be disrupted. We need to press the speed of business. Do something new today and stretch your imagination.

Imagine is this year’s Convention theme. Last year’s Convention theme of Vision 20/20 was not enough. Having a vision is important, yes, but what we need even more is imagination. We need it for our industry, for our businesses and for ourselves as individuals. We need to imagine a world with greater access to quality water. We need to imagine a world with endless opportunities and capabilities to deliver quality water. We need to imagine a time when its seamless to adapt to accelerating changes of the marketplace. IMAGINE.

We’ve been imagining for quite some time the next chapter of WQA’s story in a new headquarters and laboratory. Now it’s here and the results are stunning. Our relocation has been filled with twists and turns right through the pandemic. We moved from a building designed and built in the early 1980s that was no longer able to meet our needs to an expanded, modern facility of the future. The new lab is an expansive testing facility that maximizes efficiency, offers new flexibility in testing and looks to the future for ever-diversifying needs of our Gold Seal and Sustainability Seal clients, all with a clear focus on client confidentiality and product innovation needs.

We had tremendous support from our members. Thanks to the many contributors who were part of the Building Our Vision Campaign. Contributions exceeded $400,000 of support in funds and equipment that enabled us to hit the ground running. We will be forever grateful for the lasting legacy of their support. They helped to launch a new era for WQA and the Water Quality Research Foundation.

You’ll want to join us for the WQA Convention & Exposition in Las Vegas July 28-30 as we imagine the possibilities of the future of the water treatment industry. If you haven’t yet registered, please do it today. Go to wqa.org/convention and register not only yourself, but other members of your organization. If you cannot travel to Las Vegas, you can join us virtually for live-streamed sessions, online networking, on-demand education and a virtual trade show. Let’s imagine a world where everyone has access to quality drinking water.

Pauli Undesser, MWS, CAE

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