Volume 45 Number 1
Forward 2003: Whither Goes POU/POE in the Larger Water Treatment Industry?
First of all, let’s talk about this industry. We’ll start out with the first dose of reality—this isn’t an industry. Bottled water is not an industry. Neither is POU/POE… nor commercial water treatment… nor municipal water treatment. None of them are separate industries.
We are all segments or channels to market or specialty markets—but none of these segments qualifies to be an industry. The true water industry is something much larger. It encompasses all of these segments and others too. It’s important to understand this because it has implications for every business in every segment of this industry.
The "true" water industry is coming together fast and furiously. GE's purchase of Osmonics in November is just another small chapter in the continuing consolidation. What happens in the consumer market eventually percolates upward into the commercial and industrial (C/I) markets, and what happens in the C/I markets eventually leaks down into the consumer market. Everything is interconnected or soon will be. For example, if we can’t fix our salinity discharge issue at the household level then eventually the municipalities will fix it at the source level—and the market could evaporate.
There is a new wave of consolidation taking place, but this consolidation is different from the past. Then, companies were just buying up other companies and either merging them into existing operations or running them "as is." Now, it’s different. Companies are trying to figure out how to rationalize the various businesses they own. Fitting a dealer business with a retail business with a commercial business is a lot tougher than it sounds. Yet there are certain common denominators:
Someday soon we are going to be an industry. And when that happens the WQA will be serving the needs of its members in these many and varied channels, markets and applications. Why? It's simple. Companies like yours cannot afford to belong to three, four or five different associations to represent your needs. This kind of duplication is not only costly; it works at cross-purposes with your needs. Now is the time for all of us to come together for our own good.
About the author Peter Censky has been executive director of the Water Quality Association since 1987. The WQA can be reached at (630) 505-0160, (630) 505-9637 (fax), email: email@example.com or website: www.wqa.org
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