Volume 44 Number 4
New WQA President’s Report: Building Pathways to a Greater Association in 2002
Long before I had expectations of becoming president of the Water Quality Association (WQA), I was preoccupied with being a kid and learning all that I could about my father’s water treatment dealership located in rural Michigan.
When my dad, Robert Sr., was first considering getting into the water business, he picked up the phone and called our neighbor and local Culligan man, Gordon Miller, to inform Gordon that he was thinking about adding a line of water conditioners to his milking equipment business. He was impressed when Gordon said, without hesitation, “Great, Bob! I could use some good competition!”
Gordon was right, competition is good. Two people beating a drum are going to make more noise than one; four people beating drums are going to make people stand up and take notice, increasing awareness for our industry. Everyone benefits from fair, ethical competition -- and the increased awareness that it creates.
We must expand our focus of the industry from a technical, product-driven concentration to include consumer needs that provide solutions to quality of life issues. Through a new Consumer Data Project initiative at WQA -- now in early stages of discussion -- along with our ongoing public relations efforts, we hope to show the industry a new way of conceptualizing our products and services. We must define and clarify a new message for our industry; one that’s simpler for the consumer to comprehend, one that unites perfectly with the consumer’s quality of life proposition, and one that takes our industry out of the perception that water is something that’s broken and needs to be fixed.
Now is the time to re-examine our time-tested industry marketing practices. As long as we continue to market our products as something that consumers need instead of something they want, our market will remain limited and constrained. The current “need” is to correct water that they have already paid for -- hardly a position of strength to market our industry.
Build Lake Mead
In order for our industry to grow, we need to build our own Hoover Dam. By investing in new consumer perception information and by providing our members with credible, accurate and reliable market research, we can begin to build upon the solid foundation we’ve already laid. How great is the potential? If we double our national market penetration from 10-15 percent -- which seems low to me -- to only 20-30 percent, we can more than double the size of our industry!
A unified vision
There are several key areas of strength from which we can build. Our Product Testing and Certification Program provides credibility for the consumer and ourselves. It helps us hold ourselves to a higher standard. Our Code of Ethics and Advertising Guidelines ensure professionalism at all levels. We have a strong foundation; now let’s build the house.
I’m thankful for all the people such as my dad, John Grayson, and many others who’ve shared their wisdom with me over the years and provided me with the tools to lead this association during the next year. I look forward to the challenge placed in front of me, the honor and opportunity to serve our association, and working with each and every one of you who help make this such a terrific industry.
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