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September 2001: Volume 43, Number 9

What Now for WQA World Assembly Division?
by Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor

It's rather timely that with our annual "International" issue there's a changing of the guard at the Water Quality Association's World Assembly Division (WQA-WAD).

In July, Dan Wyckoff, WAD director since 1997, left to become business development manager for the new filtration division of Chicago's A.J. Antunes & Co. Culligan international sales coordinator before becoming WAD's first director, he said he let WQA executive director Peter Censky know last year he was seeking a position back in the private sector. He remains highly supportive of WAD's mission to improve the quality of industry professionals globally, but noted "there's always been different opinions as to what the WQA and World Assembly's long term function should be."

Some U.S. dealers complain about WQA spending on WAD with little benefit to their business, while the WQA Board of Governors continues to press WAD to remain self-sustaining. Membership has leveled off with foreign members and companies complaining WAD committees are made up mostly of Americans and meetings held largely in the United States. To its credit, WAD has sponsored trade shows in Mexico, Singapore, Amsterdam and Brazil. And it's promoted regulatory harmonization, improved delivery of education programs and foreign WQA chapters with degrees of success during several periods of financial turmoil globally. All agree, though, Wyckoff's departure leaves an opportunity for new goals and direction at WAD just as its executive committee is in the process of redefining those with a new business plan.

Bill Prior, the first World Assembly executive committee chairman and Kinetico co-founder, says revolutionary change is in order. He wrote a report on the subject for WAD advisory board chairman Danny Taragan of Israel's Tana Industries. In it, he lays out a case for restructuring the WQA as an international manufacturers association that supports autonomous national chapters focused mainly on dealers and sales distribution channels. As factors supporting this, he points to consolidation and globalization of a manufacturing base less focused solely on the U.S. market, dissatisfaction of U.S. dealers with a diminished role in WQA, perceptions WQA is simply "a U.S. organization meddling in international affairs" with few non-U.S. participants and a lack of effective voice for them in governance, and growing competition from other associations on a global scale. He proposes a series of meetings coordinated with a consultant for a six-month effort to redefine the WQA and develop a new entity that more aptly captures the breadth of a booming global industry. Prior likens this to the type of visionary thinking that led to the merging of the WCAI and WCF in 1974 to create the WQA.

Current WQA president C.R. Hall says he respects Prior as one of the industry's best "big picture" thinkers, but that his idea may be "too far ahead of the curve."

"The concern we have—and it's a chicken or the egg thing—is the reality of today, where the majority of the industry is in the U.S. with most of its management, production, distribution (and) end-users here... " Hall said. "I most fervently believe we need to be global. We also need to look at where dues are coming from, where members are coming from and where committee members are coming from... The world's changing. We just need to decide how far ahead or how close behind we want to be on that."

Still, Hall, Censky and Ray Jaglowski, WAD executive committee chairman, say Wyckoff's replacement will need to be less of an administrator and more of a visionary along the lines Prior discusses to set the stage for the organization's next phase. As such, they note P.J. Regunathan, formerly of Culligan, will likely take over WAD's standards and regulations advocacy. It's not clear whether other key WAD administrative functions such as trade shows and educational programs will get their own coordinator. This is to free the new director to promote global goals of WQA and support affiliate groups.

"One thing I can say with great confidence is World Assembly is self funding... And WAD does bring members into WQA who otherwise probably would not join... More importantly, this is a global community and what happens in other countries as far as how POU and POE devices are regulated can have a material and direct impact in the future on how these products are marketed in the U.S.," stressed Jaglowski, who took early retirement from Access Business Group LLC (Amway) in August to become NSF International vice president of business development.