By Amanda Crangle
The 2021 Florida Water Quality Association Convention kicked off in Orlando, Florida June 23-25. The excitement was palpable as old friends and industry colleagues joined together for three days of golf, networking and education. Beyond relieved to be out and about after a year of seclusion for many, the attendance was high with industry dealers, distributors, suppliers and consultants showing up for the first in-person water treatment industry convention in over a year.
Wednesday morning, golf enthusiasts teed off at the Rusty Shoenthaler Annual Golf Tournament, which was held at the beautiful Walt Disney Magnolia Golf Course. Thursday morning business sessions highlighted the importance of responding to both positive and negative online business reviews and unearthed valuable keys to successful service calls.
The FWQA business meeting, election of officers, as well as WQA and industry updates followed, with new officers sworn in, 2021-2022 goals communicated and awards presented. Immediate Past WQA President, DJ Shanahan, was able to deliver his first in-person speech, which conveyed optimism that through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the water treatment industry was recognized as essential by US EPA. It saw record growth and is viewed by consumers as highly important as issues like PFAS, arsenic and lead continue to garner media attention.
A few key takeaways from the update included:
- A new WQA certification for OEMs, aptly named Certified Water Treatment Designer
- The launch of the new consumer-facing website, BetterWaterToday.org
- The soon-to-be-released Business Operations Report
Luis Reyes of ResinTech was sworn in as the new FWQA President, with John Ladue as Vice President, Cyril Brockmeier as Treasurer and Jeff Sadonis as Secretary. Reyes shared his goals for his presidency as a three-year plan to increase communication between the Board of Directors and members, as well as to update the FWQA website to facilitate that communication and offer research tools for users. Emotions were high as the FWQA Hall of Fame Award was given to the late Mike Lester, an industry icon and friend to many. John Ladue received the FWQA President’s Award for going above and beyond to serve the industry.
Thirty-three exhibitors set up shop to showcase a wide variety of goods and services. The energy in the room was magnetic, drawing lively conversations, sparking new relationships and rekindling old friendships. Many vendors remarked with wide smiles that it was one of the busiest FWQA conventions they’d attended in years. A reception was held Thursday evening, filling the convention hall with avid conversations. Many members brought their spouses and children; it was refreshing to see the kids playing together, a gentle reminder that they are the future of our industry. Folks genuinely enjoyed the camaraderie and on more than one occasion, you could hear a remark about how it was great to be back together as a family.
Friday morning, Shanahan and past FWQA President, Amanda Moore, hosted a town hall (moderated by Candice Wentling) that covered the importance of regional and national water quality associations. From task forces and committees going to bat for their members with state and national legislators, to providing educational resources for members, these associations are vital to the success of their members and the industry as a whole. Members throughout the convention shared stories of how WQA certifications and the Code of Ethics have set them apart from their competition and have established a strong foundation for continued success as regulations and consumer demands change.
Both Moore and Shanahan encouraged members to get involved through committees or a task force and highlighted that involving employees can be a great way to do this without over-committing the business owner’s time. Afterward, Doug Haring, Clack Corporation, presented their new control valve and Wentling gave a stellar class on proactive hiring, onboarding and retention of high-quality employees.
Whether a seasoned water treatment expert or a person new to the industry, there were many valuable takeaways throughout the three-day convention. DJ Shanahan summed it up best when he said, “The silver lining of the Covid-19 pandemic is that the world has a new appreciation for high quality drinking water now more than ever before.” It also seems that we all have a new appreciation for seeing the familiar and new faces of our industry colleagues, counterparts and friends as well.
On the final day of the convention, as I glanced around the room filled with a wide variety of professionals, I felt privileged to be among the movers and shakers of our industry – those who deeply care about people, families, health, water quality, education and ethics. A quote came to mind from John C. Maxwell, “The better you are at surrounding yourself with people of high potential, the greater your chance for success.”
A big thank you to Suzanne Trueblood, Moore and the many other volunteers who orchestrated a successful, educational and fun convention. Stay tuned for details of the 2022 FWQA Conventions.
About the author
Amanda Crangle and the team at Lamplight Digital Media help residential and commercial water treatment companies profitably grow their dealerships using digital marketing. They have worked with over 100 water treatment dealerships spanning North America, managed millions of dollars in ad spend and performed over 1,000 scientific website split tests. Crangle intimately knows the water industry, having worked in a dealership as a sales rep and as a general manager. She and her team are passionate about expanding consumer awareness of water quality issues and providing education on final barrier solutions.