Industrial Meets the Industry

Many water treatment professionals know by now that new housing starts are down and the residential market is not as strong as it has been in recent years. This does not necessarily mean that it is all gloom and doom for companies primarily involved in residential water treatment, it simply means that there are more opportunities in different markets.

The industrial sector of water treatment has been growing in recent years, and the Water Quality Association (WQA) recognized this with the introduction of its Industrial Speed Dating event, which was held at the WQA Aquatech USA show this past March.

Meet & Greet

The Industrial Speed Dating event was designed to bring together ideas, products and people involved in industrial water treatment in a networking atmosphere to expand and gain business alliances with other industrial affiliates.

“I think [the event’s] objective was great and it has great potential,” said Jacob Brodie, vice president of The Purolite Co. and Speed Dating participant. “I will probably do it again next year.”

According to participants, the event was set up similar to poster presentations that are often held at tradeshows in similar industries. Each company set up a poster describing its services and products offered. This allowed for other companies to browse the posters and learn about one another over food and drinks.

“I think the event has great potential,” said Ivars Jaunakais, president of Industrial Test Systems, Inc. and Speed Dating participant. “There were folks who brought posters describing their company, but nobody was at the posters to answer any questions. I would suggest that during the duration of the event, somebody should always be available at each poster to answer questions.”

“The event wasn’t set up like a typical ‘speed date’ event where you would spend five minutes one-on-one with each company, learn what they do and then move on to the next,” said Brodie. The WQA event, according to Brodie, was set up so that participants could browse all of the posters and socialize with others.

Jaunakais suggested that participating companies make a specific timeframe available the following day at their booths to invite other companies over to learn more about their products and to answer any questions they might have had while at the Speed Dating event. Companies should have all of this information (such as booth numbers and available times to meet) advertised on their posters. This would allow for interested parties to follow up face-to-face without any distractions from the social event.

Why Participate?

The goal of the Industrial Speed Dating event was to help companies involved in industrial water treatment gain and expand new business by meeting and forming alliances with other industrial affiliates.

“I’ve been going to tradeshows for 30 years now and I am always looking for matches with other companies so we can help each other out,” said Jaunakais. “I personally made some contacts [at the Industrial Speed Dating event]. Some of the companies were in arsenic remediation and we offer arsenic kits—I thought I’d see if we could help each other out.”

In order to be successful in today’s competitive world, it is always best to form a network of affiliates who can help you. Networking events such as these bring together companies that are all involved in some way with a particular market. If you are looking for a way to expand your business or simply gain insight, an event such as this can be a valuable resource.

The WQA will be holding the Industrial Speed Dating event again next year at the WQA Aquatech USA show, which will be held March 17 to 21, 2009, in Rosemont, Ill.

Stephanie Harris is managing editor of Water Quality Products. Harris can be reached at 847.391.1007 or by e-mail at sharris@sgcmail.com.

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