Across Borders

Conducting business in the 21st century typically requires some understanding of the global economy. As manufacturing continues to move out of North America, even small companies need to understand how to conduct business internationally. This global economic expansion also requires trade associations to increase their international expertise in order to serve the changing needs of their members.

The Water Quality Association (WQA) understands the importance of the international markets emerging in the water treatment industry. Because of the rapid growth of the water treatment industry throughout the world, WQA’s International Section has become one of the most active groups in the association. WQA’s International Section is working on a variety of issues, but its newest initiative to develop individual task groups throughout the world will be the focus of this article, along with a brief description of the upcoming Aquatech show in Amsterdam.

The WQA Gold Seal program has always welcomed international participation. Due to emerging international standards and regulations, the WQA has taken great strides to ensure its Gold Seal Mark is recognized throughout the world. Because of the WQA’s growing Gold Seal program, international task forces can be developed at little expense to the members.

Recent Initiatives of the WQA International Section

WQA’s International Section is heavily involved in standards and regulatory issues throughout the world. The WQA keeps its members up to date with the European Union harmonization efforts that are currently under way during the development of the CEN standards for drinking water. The WQA staff is actively participating in the CEN working groups that have been given the task of developing the new standards.

International Task Group Development

In order for the WQA to participate more actively throughout the world, the International Section is in the process of developing individual task groups for each region. The individual task groups would be chaired by a member company located in that specific region and would hold meetings to discuss local and regional issues for that part of the world.

International members have already informed the WQA that they are anxious to set up and hold individual task group meetings in their representative countries to discuss WQA regional issues with companies that are conducting business in their countries. The task group will be responsible for developing an agenda and setting up at least one meeting at the task group chair’s facility or at a local trade show to discuss the agenda items with companies. A WQA representative will be present at each meeting. This representative will be responsible for taking minutes and ensuring that the meeting is conducted in accordance with WQA antitrust policies.

Phase I (one year)

The WQA shall pilot-test the international task force idea in India and set up the following:

Task Force Name: Indian Chapter Task Force

WQA Staff: WQA’s Gold Seal administrative assistant shall coordinate all activities between the Indian Chapter Task Force and WQA’s International Section. All minutes shall be distributed through the International Section and discussed during section meetings.

Costs: The WQA shall require that the meeting be set up in conjunction with WQA Facility Assessments to minimize travel expenses. The WQA currently conducts numerous facility inspections in India each year. Spending one extra day staffing the task force meeting shall incur a minimal cost.

Benefits: WQA shall promote the association and recruit new international members by:

  • Increasing consumer awareness of the WQA and its role of improving drinking water throughout the world;
  • Increasing WQA’s international membership;
  • Increasing Gold Seal certified companies internationally;
  • Increasing WQA’s Professional Certification Program;
  • Growing WQA’s trade show;
  • Providing additional member benefits to international companies;
  • Discussing local government testing standards and regulations;
  • Providing local lobbying efforts;
  • Providing consumer education;
  • Recruiting new companies to attend the meetings, becoming aware of their local issues along with all international issues and promoting WQA membership;
  • Providing solutions for WQA membership and Gold Seal logo misuse;
  • Providing international venues to take certification exams; and
  • Translating documents.

Implementation: The WQA shall contact active members located in India to populate the task force. The WQA shall select the task force chair and vice chair.

1. The task force chair, vice chair and the WQA shall:

  • Select a meeting date, time and location;
  • Develop the agenda for the meeting; and
  • Contact all companies and regulatory bodies that shall be invited to the meeting.

2. All WQA member companies and regulatory bodies shall attend the meeting for free. All non-members shall be required to pay a fee for attending the meeting. This fee shall be determined by the chair, vice chair and the WQA in an effort to recover WQA costs for the year.

3. The meeting shall be held with a WQA representative present.

4. The meeting minutes and action items shall be shared with the International Section for discussion and to establish resolution for any action items.

5. The task force chair and vice chair shall serve for one year. The task force shall elect a new vice chair every year.

Phase II (two to five years)

After the WQA has fully implemented the Indian Chapter Task Force and evaluated its productivity, costs and member benefits, the WQA shall determine if additional task forces shall be established in different countries as well as if the Indian Chapter Task Force will remain intact. Malaysia and China have both expressed interest in having their own task forces.

Phase III (after five years)

The WQA shall maintain staff in each country that has a working task force.


The WQA, like other businesses in the water treatment industry, is adapting to the increase in international business conducted by member companies. The WQA and its members need to stay on top of all international issues that affect the industry. WQA’s Gold Seal program and International Section have kept the association abreast of the standards and regulation issues over the past 30 years. Now, the development of individual task groups will ensure that the WQA remains the international trade association educating the drinking water treatment industry and its members, and covering and monitoring all the issues affecting the drinking water industry throughout the world.

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About the author

Thomas P. Palkon, CWS-VI, is director of product certification for the Water Quality Association. He can be reached at 630.505.0160, or by e-mail at [email protected].