Web Exclusive Q&A: 2020 WQA Convention & Exposition

Jan. 30, 2020

WQP previews the 2020 WQA Convention & Exposition

About the author:

Lauren Del Ciello is managing editor for WQP. Del Ciello can be reached at [email protected].


The 2020 Water Quality Association (WQA) Convention & Exposition is quickly approaching. The annual event will be held April 1 to 3, 2020, in Orlando, Florida, and will bring water treatment professionals from across the U.S. and world together to network, collaborate and share ideas. With this year's theme of "Vision 20/20," the 2020 event promises to focus on forward thinking collaboration that will drive dealerships and manufacturers alike to create engaging visions for the future. WQP Managing Editor Lauren Del Ciello asked WQA President Steve Ver Strat about the upcoming event, why water treatment professionals should attend and what to look out for at the show. 

2020 WQA Convention & Exposition

Lauren Del Ciello: What can attendees look forward to at the 2020 WQA Convention?

Steve Ver Strat: Attendees can look forward to a trade show with more than 240 exhibiting companies, dozens of fascinating and challenging education sessions and an inspiring keynote address at our Opening General Session by Simon T. Bailey, author of 10 books on being fearless and creating your future. We’ll also present our annual leadership awards and elect new members to the Board of Directors at that meeting. Plus, there will be plenty of networking opportunities, including a new member breakfast and the Welcome Reception.

Del Ciello: Who should attend the show?

Ver Strat: People from all areas of the water quality industry, including manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and dealers, and from related roles (such as marketing, research or finance) that support the industry. People running small businesses and those working for large companies should attend, as should people looking to advance their knowledge or to take a certification exam. Attendees do not have to be WQA members, but members do receive a discount on convention registration, exhibition costs and exam fees.

Hot Topics in the Water Treatment Industry

Del Ciello: What do you anticipate will be some of the hot topics this year?

Ver Strat: We have a whole track of education sessions addressing emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including a session on point-of-use versus centralized treatment. This discussion will be led by a speaker from the U.S. EPA. Also, Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech will speak on the recently completed Emerging Technologies Benchmarking Study. This study was designed to create a repeatable protocol that provides scientific evidence on the performance of scale-reduction technologies in water-using appliances.

We also offer sessions on commercial and industrial applications of water treatment, ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) research and on a host of business operations topics such as mentoring, generating business leads and using WQRF study results in marketing your business. We plan to discuss the latest revisions to our Code of Ethics, which we believe will serve to further strengthen our industry. There will also be committee, section, advisory council and board of directors’ meetings that will feature lively discussions on industry topics.

Del Ciello: What is new this year?

Ver Strat: We’re offering an Innovation Showcase for the first time. Exhibitors will be able to display a new product or innovation in a specially designated area of the exhibit floor near the Learning Lab and the Business Spotlights (which was an innovation at last year’s Convention). Items in the Innovation Showcase will be labeled with company name and booth number so visitors will know which booth to visit for more information.

Del Ciello: How long has the Business Operations Boot Camp been running, and what can attendees hope to learn there?

Ver Strat: This will be the third year for the WQA Business Boot Camp, a day-long intensive workshop specifically tailored to our dealers. Water industry and outside experts will lead attendees in how to “Create the Vision” for a business through sessions on leadership, hiring, retaining and onboarding employees. We’re also planning on plenty of opportunities for attendees to learn from each other through roundtable discussions and idea sharing. The goal is for all attendees to go home with several practical ideas they can implement immediately.

Boot Camp will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31 – the day before the convention begins – also at the Orange County Convention Center. We hope dealers will take advantage of this special day to get away from their businesses in order to focus more directly on their businesses.

Professional Benefits

Del Ciello: What professional benefits does the convention offer?

Ver Strat: Industry education, opportunities to meet suppliers or service providers in person, a chance to be updated on important issues facing our industry. The education sessions feature a variety of topics for different sectors of the industry and for people with varying levels of experience. If you’re a certified professional, you can earn continuing education credit toward recertification. Two technical workshops, one on Commercial/Industrial RO Sizing and one an introduction to water contaminants and drinking water regulations, can earn you 0.4 CPD in half a day when you’re already on site (additional registration fee required for those). We also offer certification exams at a discount during convention. And, of course, the connections you make, the business opportunities you seize and the education you get from informal discussions outside the classrooms are invaluable.

Del Ciello: What should attendees look out for on the show floor this year?

Ver Strat: We’re expanding the hours of our trade show this year to give convention attendees greater opportunities to see the latest products and services in drinking water treatment. The Innovation Showcase that I just mentioned will be a spot where exhibitors display new products or innovations. Business Spotlights will be offered for the second year in half-hour-long sessions in a designated room on the show floor. The Learning Lab will be back, offering great technical, mechanical or business operations lessons. And, of course, more than 240 exhibiting companies will be showcasing the latest products, services and trends. Be sure to visit WQA Central for information on membership, Gold Seal Product Certification, Professional Certification and Training and the Water Quality Research Council, among other things.

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