Mar 05, 2020

WQP Previews the 2020 WQA Convention & Exposition

This article originally appeared in Water Quality Products March 2020 issue as "A New Leaf"

wqa convention

With 2020, launching a new decade brings the sensation of turning over a new leaf perhaps more than previous new years. What is it about two twenties back-to-back that feels more significant and revolutionary than years prior? The Water Quality Association (WQA) Convention & Exposition is fully embracing the new year, new you, spirit with this year’s theme of “Vision 20/20.” The annual show–held April 1 to 3, 2020, in Orlando, Florida–is all about thinking outside of the box this year.

“In line with our convention theme of ‘Vision 20/20,’ what energizes me the most [about this year’s event] are all the discussions, debates, out-of-the-box ideas and great thoughts that drive an engaging vision for the future,” said WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser. “Whether these ideas bubble up from private conversations at a reception or on the busy show floor or in a public debate during an education session or committee or section meeting, they help us discern who we are as individuals and what we are as an association, and that makes a better world for all of us.”

leadership awards
WQA Executive Director Pauli Undesser presented the WQA leadership awards in 2019.

What to Look Out For

The trade show will feature more than 240 exhibiting companies and dozens of educational sessions (more than 50 in 2019). In 2019, the show brought to Las Vegas approximately 3,200 attendees, representing 45 countries. Professionals from all areas of the water industry, including manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and dealers, as well as those in related roles such as marketing, research or finance that support the industry should plan on attending the show, according to WQA President Steve Ver Strat.

For the third year, attendees will have the option to come early to the WQA Business Boot Camp, which will kick off March 31 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The all-day intensive business operations workshop offers attendees the opportunity to “Create the Vision,” going along with the show theme. WQA Business Boot Camp will feature speakers Candice Wentling, MWS, from Certified Action; Jeff Kortes from Human Asset Management LLC; and Doug Ramer, MWS, CWR from Martin Water Conditioning. Speakers will cover a wide range of business operation topics, including leadership, hiring and retention, training and more.The workshop also will feature roundtable discussions, encouraging attendees to both network and learn from each other.

“The goal is for all attendees to go home with several practical ideas they can implement immediately,” Ver Strat said. “...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.”

The following day of the 2020 WQA Convention & Exposition will be packed with educational sessions and committee meetings. April 1 will start with Dr. Marc Edwards from Virginia Tech presenting the results of the recently completed WQRF Emerging Technologies Benchmarking Study, which is likely to be a hot topic at the show this year, Ver Strat said. 

On April 2, the opening general session will highlight a keynote address from Simon T. Bailey, author of 10 books on being fearless and creating your future, and the show floor will open. The show floor will feature expanded hours this year, as well as a new section. 

“We’re offering an Innovation Showcase for the first time,” Ver Strat said. “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.”

Attendees can also look forward to two technical workshops held on the final day, including a Commercial/Industrial RO Sizing Workshop and an Introduction to Water Contaminants and Drinking Water Regulations MEP Workshop on top of a host of educational sessions already available at the show. Finally, attendees can round-out their trip and put their knowledge to the test by taking certification exams at the convention. 

young professionals
 A panel of young professionals discussed industry trends in 2019.

Hot Topics & Benefits

Hot topics to look out for at this year’s WQA Convention & Exposition include updates to the WQA Code of Ethics, the results of the recent Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) Emerging Technologies Benchmarking Study, business operations and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection, according to Ver Strat. Legislation and regulations are expected to be important topics, as well, as the show brings together water treatment professionals from across the country and world. 

“With potential legislation on the senate floor in our own state, I find the convention to be a valuable tool to learn what is going on in other parts of the country with these legislative issues, as well as learn about new treatment technologies and product offerings to address the growing consumer demand,” said Amanda Moore, MWS, member of the WQA Board of Directors and vice president of Atlantic FIlter Corp. based in Florida.

If you are attending the 2020 WQA Convention & Exposition, be sure to stop and visit WQP’s team at Booth #1109. As technology continues to evolve, regulations surrounding new and existing contaminants grow, and consumers are increasingly seeking final barrier water treatment solutions, continuing education and professional networking for water treatment professionals is more important than ever before. WQA Past President Chris Wilker says it best.

“Given the increasing complexity of providing trusted solutions to America’s growing water issues, 2020 is a must attend event for all industry professionals,” Wilker said. 

Steve Ver Strat & Chris Wilker
WQA Past President Chris Wilker passed the gavel to WQA President Steve Ver Strat in 2019. WQA Vice President DJ Shannahan will take over as the incoming president in 2020.

Fast Facts: What You Need to Know

  • 2019 attendees: Approximately 3,200
  • 2019 exhibitors: More than 240
  • 2019 educational sessions: More than 50
  • 2019 countries represented: 45 countries, averaging 49 countries year-to-year
  • 2019 average time attendees spent at each booth they visited: 24 minutes
  • 2019 presentation slides: Viewed more than 13,000 times and downloaded more than 100,000 times
  • Looking to give back? Head to the WQRF Run/Walk for Research 5k, 1.5 mile Run/Walk, or partner relay April 3.
  • Looking to network? Attend the Welcome Reception April 2.
  • Looking to expand your business savvy? Come early and attend the WQA Business Boot Camp March 31.
  • Looking to get involved? Join a WQA Committee and make your voice heard.

Related Articles on the WQA Convention:

Learn more and register for the event at the WQA Convention's website.

About the author

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