The Learning Curve
For some dealers, WQA certification and continuing education for employees may be on the back burner or a vague goal for the future. However, actively pursuing educational opportunities can have immediate benefits, such as those experienced by Joseph J. Huemann, president of the Huemann Water Conditioning, Div. of Huemann Water Mgt., Inc., in Johnsburg, Ill.
Huemann has seen first-hand how focusing on education and certification can lead to better business. His family’s roots in the water business go back to 1902, when his great-grandfather founded Joseph H. Huemann and Son’s Well Drilling. His father, Thomas Huemann, established Huemann Water Conditioning in 1963.
Huemann Water Mgt., Inc.
A Changing Industry
Changes in the industry since then are one reason continuing education and certification are important, Huemann said. “In the ’60s and ’70s, our customers needed to be educated more. Today, most people know they want their water treated … With the exposure and demands of the customer, we are being held to a higher standard. Training and education help with delivering a consistent and correct product to the customer,” he said.
Customers have access to more information than ever before thanks to the Internet, so Huemann and his employees must take steps to stay updated on current industry topics and news.
“We use the trade magazines as ‘FYI’ readings for the employees on hot topics for them to read and keep in touch,” Huemann said. If a magazine has an article pertaining to an issue his employees may face, he routes it around the office so everyone can benefit from the knowledge.
Many dealers today struggle to keep quality employees, but education can be used to counteract this problem. Along with benefits for his employees, Huemann also provides opportunities for WQA certification and will sponsor employees who wish to earn a state plumbing license, a four-year process. He rewards employees who become certified with a raise, providing them with an incentive for continuing education while ensuring that his business employs better-qualified professionals.
Education helps “the employee feel more confident in their work and take pride in what they do,” Huemann said. “They don’t just work [with] water treatment stuff, they make water better for the customer.”
A Successful Future
Education and certification are important to “being able to see what is going on in the industry across the nation as well as the world,” Huemann said. “We are truly global. What happens in another state can be communicated quickly through contacts from the WQA.”
Because Huemann’s has a balanced income coming from rentals, service work, salt delivery, RO filter changes, parts and sales, the declining housing market and shaky economy that is straining the industry isn’t stopping him. Huemann’s goal of “educating my employees to do their job better than I could do it” is ensuring the longevity, security and success of his business in the future.