For the inactive Illinois Water Quality Association (IWQA), it made sense to partner with the Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals (IAGP). Stephanie Harris, managing editor of Water Quality Products, spoke with Joe Huemann, president of Huemann Water Conditioning, to learn more about this recent merger of associations.
Stephanie Harris: How did the IWQA and IAGP come together to form one group?
Joe Huemann: The IWQA was inactive, and we only had a handful of members involved. The IAGP had the infrastructure in place: they had an executive director; they have yearly meetings and an annual convention; education—all of this has been in place for some time.
We talked about taking our IWQA members and going to their meetings. It took about a year of discussions, but we were able to take the synergies of what they already had in place and bring our potential membership and made it work for IAGP by bringing in new members.
And there were other things that were beneficial to the IAGP; for instance, they created a board member position on their Board of Directors that is a water quality board member and is to be occupied by a water quality industry person.
The IWQA also had some money that we turned over to the IAGP. What we received in return was two years of free membership in their organization. There were about 60 dealerships in Illinois that were eligible for the two-year free membership with IAGP. We will find out what the involvement will be, because after the first two years are over, it will be up to these dealers to continue their membership.
Harris: How has this partnership been working out so far?
Huemann: The partnership in Illinois is working well. We are only one year into it, but we’re starting to get an understanding of each industry. The IAGP wants to learn about the water quality industry. We have a lot of the same synergies.
IWQA had disbanded, and my personal belief is if water well drillers are going to do water softening work as well, they should join the WQA. And if water dealers are going to do water well drilling, we should be involved in that organization, too.
The continued education that the IAGP offers is a very good thing for us because if you are a WQA member and you need seat time for your certifications, the IAGP offers the seat time that you can use.
I also think that if you are a water softening/treatment dealer and you network with the water well drilling people, you create some nice friendships and allegiances, and you learn about your industry more.
In my experience, I have had good working relationships with well drillers, in which the well drillers say, “We find the water, let’s let the professional water treatment dealers treat it.”
But there are some well drillers who are now selling softeners, and the water dealer might lose those leads.
So it is a matter of how your relationship is with those well drillers.
As members of the IAGP, we are invited to attend the IAGP annual conference, and now we have more educational and networking opportunities. We are just trying to get more people involved.
It is important for the Illinois water dealers to be involved with this association, because the well drillers find the water and we treat it—what they do affects us directly; therefore, it is important to develop good, strong relationships with the well drillers.
Harris: Do you think a partnership like this would work on a national level, for example, between WQA and the NGWA?
Huemann: If you look at the synergies of the national convention, joining the WQA tradeshow with the NGWA’s convention, for the manufacturer, it makes a lot of sense. They would have just one convention to go to, and they would be able to talk to both the water well drillers and the water softener dealers.
There are two factions here: the dealers and the manufacturers. As the manufacturer, it makes sense. As the dealer, the verdict’s not out quite yet. But we are just in the infancy of these discussions.
I would be interested in knowing how other water treatment dealers feel about a partnership like this.
Author’s Note: WQP is interested in hearing your opinion on this topic. Please send us your input at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact Joe Huemann at 815.385.3093 or by e-mail at email@example.com.