Next generation of water professionals eyes sustainability & humanitarian ventures
For the third year, WQP introduces its list of up-and-coming stars in the water treatment industry. The following nine water professionals embody the drive and eagerness to succeed we are witnessing from many of the young professionals making their start in the industry. Some have started their own companies, many have contributed to or had their own patents awarded, and all see their generation as the one to push for greater sustainability and higher efficiency than ever before.
AQ Matic Valve & Controls
Education: Studied engineering management at Marquette University in Wisconsin and mechanical engineering at the University of Dayton in Ohio
Previous life: Worked as an application engineer at Goodrich Corp. supporting aircraft wheels and brakes
- Conducted hundreds of technical training seminars around the world teaching dealers about water treatment technologies
- Consistently advanced in corporate responsibilities within Fortune 500 companies
- Headed two departments and managed 16 direct reports
- Designed a range of controls for water treatment equipment spanning simple backwashing filters to ultrapure water systems
- Lead transition of AquaMatic from corporate ownership to a stand-alone company
Best project ever: Josetti’s most memorable project was his first training session on a small chicken farm outside of Chennai, India, in the extreme heat. “Nearly 80 people came to learn about low-pressure membrane water treatment in a three-sided tin barn,” he said. As a token of appreciation for the lesson, Josetti was given a handmade beaded necklace that he said “will be long remembered.”
Greatest influence: Josetti attributes his success to his parents, whom he said have given him everything and shaped the person he has become. Their unending love and support have made him “strive everyday to show others the happiness that can come from selfless dedication to others.”
Industry aspiration: Continue to have fun on a daily basis
Giving back: An active member of his local parish, Josetti also coaches youth football, soccer and baseball.
Personal life: Josetti’s hobbies include swimming, biking and running to stay competitive in short-course triathlons and bike races. He also plays ice hockey, but admits he is slowing down compared to college players in his league.
Personal passions: Josetti loves passing on his healthy lifestyle to his children. He encourages them to eat well, stay active, find happiness in work and make a conscious effort to lead a positive example.
How will your generation influence the industry? “Water is becoming a more precious resource as shortages and pollution become more publicized. Our generation will need to tackle these challenges with innovation and development of political boundaries around sharing the limited clean drinking water available.”
Best advice: “There is never a one-size-fits-all solution within water treatment. Part of the fun of this industry is the diverse interaction between chemistry, flow and mechanics, which provide never-ending opportunities to learn.”
Andrew K. Graves
Aqua Life of Houston
Education: Studied communications
Previous life: Worked as associate district manager for Aramark in Lexington, Ky.
Greatest personal accomplishment: Opening an Aqua Life office in Houston
- Broke corporate sales record for a single month with 23 systems sold
- Awarded 2015 Sales Excellence award
- Awarded 2015 2nd Quarter Top Corporate Sales Representative
- In 2015, finished in first place with 52 direct sales for the first quarter, second place with 23 sales for the third quarter, and first place with 47 direct sales for the fourth quarter
- Named second place for sales representative of the year for the entire corporation, with 130 sales in the fiscal year
- Broke corporate sales record in January 2016 with 24 direct sales for the month
Best project ever: Improving senior citizens’ homes by constructing new attics with insulation while working for the U.S. Army Engineer School
Greatest influence: Graves’ father, whom he describes as “one of the most mentally tough people I know”
Industry aspiration: Become a top-10 dealer for the Westinghouse Progressive Revolution Series in the U.S. within 4 years
Outside the office: Graves plans to devote time to collaborating with companies inventing new water treatment methods that will help supply developing areas of Africa with safe water.
Giving back: Graves volunteered and raised money for local charities while drilling with the National Guard. In the future, he hopes to take proceeds from each system he sells and reinvest that money into local parks in Houston.
Personal life: Hobbies include fishing, watching movies in the theater and visits to the gun range. “Nothing like the smell of gunpowder in the morning,” he said.
Best memory: Graves recalls when he and his family bought an off-brand Snuggie for his grandmother for one of her last Christmases with the entire family. It took two adults and one person with a master’s degree 45 minutes to get her situated in the Snuggie, only to find out that her head was sticking out of the hole intended for using the restroom. “Needless to say, we laughed pretty hard and she always said that was one of the funniest moments of her life—and mine.”
Personal passions: Healthy living, helping others and keeping water clean and safe
Hidden talent: Juggling
How will your generation influence the water industry? “Environmental catastrophes concerning water have become the forefront of focus in the [past] decade. I feel that water will be the next oil. In the coming years, water will be a commodity that will be of great concern. Our generation will pave the way for how we not only consume water, but how we treat and deliver water to the world.”
Best advice: “Clean water is like internet. People did not know that they needed internet until they got internet and now they can’t live without it. Clean water is the same thing.”
Founder & President
Magna Imperio Systems Inc.
Education: Studied mechanical engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy
Previous life: Surface warfare officer for the U.S. Navy
Greatest personal accomplishment: Graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy
- Raised approximately $8 million for Magna Imperio Systems Inc.
- Granted patent for “Apparatus and Methods for Treating Water and Generating Electrical Power”
- Awarded the Department of Energy’s Excellence in Energy award
- Named to CTO Forum’s Top 21 Disruptive Startups of 2016
- Member of Virginia Beach and Norfolk Chamber of Commerce board of directors
Best project ever: Volunteering with a science, technology, engineering and math program to get students interested in making a difference
Greatest influence: Page looks up to his father. “He is the most passionate, hardworking and caring man that I know, and nothing will stop him from always putting his family first.”
Industry aspiration: Page aims to produce freshwater using less energy than any other technology on the market and solve the water-energy-food nexus.
Giving back: A member of the Honor Foundation, Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Rotary Intl., Page is also active with the Central Business District Assn., Elite OC.
Personal life: Hobbies include working out, scuba diving, skydiving, skiing, shooting, hunting, golf and playing guitar.
Best memory: Going home to spend Thanksgiving with his family for the first time in three years
Hidden talent: He’s an open book. “I only keep trade secrets and nobody will ever know those!”
How will your generation influence the industry? “Water, while cheaper per barrel of fresh or potable water than a barrel of oil, is produced in vast volumes. [It] will soon surpass the oil and gas industry as the primary driver of countries’ economic stability and suitability.”
Best advice: “The two most important aspects to a customer are having the A-D solution from one supplier that is the most efficient with regard to energy conservation. Furthermore, there are very few companies in the world that can clean contaminated water efficiently in the high parts-per-million range, and even less that can do it at large volumes. This is where MI System’s sweet spot is.”
Great Water Tech
Wolf Merker is CEO of Great Water Tech. He oversees day-to-day operations, installations, implementation, strategic direction, finance and technical sales presentations for the company.
Education: Studied chemistry at Saint Olaf College in Minnesota
Previous life: Worked as director of product development for KLM Eng. and as process chemist for Apex Intl. Mfg. Greatest professional accomplishment: Published co-authored studies in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (2013) and the academic journal Biochemistry (2007)
Hidden talent: Merker is fluent in three languages: Swedish, German and English.
Atlantic Filter Corp.
Education: Graduated from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee in 1997
Previous life: Has worked for her family business since graduating college
- Became vice president for Atlantic Filter while raising twin daughters who are currently 5 years old
- Being a full-time working parent helping to run a third-generation family business, and becoming active within the professional industry on a national and regional level
- Earned Certified Water Specialist designation
- Current secretary of the Florida Water Quality Assn. board of directors
Greatest influence: Moore’s father is her role model. “He taught me how to walk [and] run and picked me up when I have fallen—personally and professionally. He has supported me and my growth over the [past] 20 years.”
Industry aspiration: As the mother of young children, Moore recognizes that families are more in tune with what their children consume than ever. Parents want to make sure food is organic, GMO-free and gluten-free. They are concerned about arsenic in apple juice, but, she said, they do not bat an eye when giving chlorinated tap water to their children. “I would like to help bring to light the importance of taking responsibility for your own destiny with regard to water. I would like to see filtration installed on every home, and the elimination of plastic bottles altogether.”
Personal life: Hobbies include boating, fitness and horseback riding.
Best memory: Moore’s favorite memories involve attending conferences and events with her father, who is still active in the business and industry. The two have a strong relationship, and Moore looks forward to attending those industry events with him and her mother.
Personal passions: Living every day to the fullest. Moore pushes the limits and never looks back.
Worst-kept secret: Has a fear of public speaking
How will your generation influence the industry? “I believe my generation has the opportunity to really get the consumer and masses to understand the value and necessity of point-of-entry and point-of-use solutions. Flint, Mich., has given us a voice that we, as an industry, have struggled to find until now.”
Best advice: “Over the [past] 20 years, I have realized what an amazing industry we are a part of. As an industry, we have the chance to improve the quality of people’s lives. Professional [organizations] such as [the Water Quality Assn.] and state associations help provide training and support to make sure that we are providing the best possible solution for the issue at hand.”
Vice President of Operations & Sales
Matilija Pure Water Systems
Education: Studied at Santa Monica College in California
Previous life: Worked as an assistant manager for Home Depot, and later as a bottled water delivery driver in Los Angeles, where he got his first exposure to water treatment
Greatest personal accomplishment: Masse is most proud of the family he and his wife have created. “Becoming a father is my greatest accomplishment.”
- Achieved the position of vice president with Matilija Pure Water Systems
- Designed a line of water-efficient softeners and reverse osmosis systems
- Increased sales with ongoing training of company technicians
Best project ever: Masse’s most memorable project involved building a multi-stage water filtration system for multiple homes. The team aimed to treat some of the worst water he had ever tested: 75 grains per gal hardness, 2,400 ppm total dissolved solids (TDS), high sulfites, high iron and manganese. “The water [was] almost black in color and tested positive for coliform bacteria. We treated the source—a private shallow well—and put in an eight-stage filtration system that brought sterile 33-ppm-TDS water to homes.”
Greatest influence: His faith, which he said has made him the honest professional he is today
Industry aspiration: Masse aims to expand his education and become certified through WQA. “With this, I will continue to grow our company by providing the best system designs our industry has to offer.”
Giving back: Delivers food to needy families and volunteers at church for holiday events
Personal life: Hobbies include working on cars, fishing, shooting and working out. His favorite hobby is mountain biking. “I take advantage of the beautiful terrain we have here in the Santa Barbara [Calif.] area. The beach and a 3,000-ft elevation gain are only 10 minutes from each other.”
Worst kept secret: “I love blue cheese!”
Best memory: His wedding day and the day his kids were born. “My family is my greatest joy and the day my wife and I became parents is the most memorable day in my life.”
Personal passions: Loves participating in church, being with his family, mountain biking and staying in shape
Hidden talent: Quickly understands mechanics and learns new systems, which is a huge help when designing, building and installing water treatment systems How will your generation influence the industry? “I expect our industry will make huge strides in reducing wasted water. My generation is very aware of our impact on our planet and our industry is focused on its most valuable resource. Unfortunately, a lot of the products on the market today waste too much of that resource.”
Best advice: Masse’s greatest lesson since entering the industry lies in “the importance of proper water treatment practices and how our health can depend on products we provide. Learning the many ways to treat various contaminants was a big task.”
Environmental Engineer & Ph.D. Candidate
Education: Studied engineering at Virginia Tech and chemical engineering at Nirma University in India
Previous life: Worked in IT consulting for Cognizant Technology Solutions prior to attending Virginia Tech
- Served as student leader and communications director of the Virginia Tech Flint Water Study research team
- Helped expose the Flint water crisis using citywide water sampling, laboratory experiments, investigative journalism, science communication and social media with fellow students and teachers. “[That] is undoubtedly the best thing I have done in my life,” he said.
Best project ever: The Flint water crisis research is Roy’s most memorable project. His work with the team led to the declaration of a national public health emergency in Flint by President Barack Obama, garnered more than $600 million in relief for Flint residents, and informed a long overdue debate on safe water in America. The Flint team he was part of has been bestowed several national awards for “outstanding dedication to representing the public interest, protecting the welfare of Flint residents, and preserving ethical standards in the sciences.”
Greatest influence: Roy’s professional role model is his graduate advisor, Dr. Marc Edwards. Roy looks up to “his brilliance, humility, humanity, fearlessness and love for advancing the science of water. He is truly a national treasure and a dear friend.”
Industry aspiration: Has deep interest in working on projects at the nexus of water quality, public health, infrastructure and environmental justice, especially in developing areas
Giving back: Roy volunteered for two years as the head grant writer and researcher on an EWB-USA Water/Sanitation project for a Guatemalan boarding school with more than 130 students, for which he received a Virginia Tech Citizen Scholar award. He also speaks at universities and schools about Flint, scientific research and the field of water.
Personal life: Roy is a runner and meditation practitioner. He devours non-fiction and science books with a feverish intensity (“although, the Harry Potter series will remain a lifelong favorite”). He also is learning to play the santoor, an classical Indian instrument with 100 strings, akin to the hammered dulcimer.
Best memory: Roy recently traveled to India, where he heard seemingly endless stories—both comical and tragic—from his parents about their childhood. “I couldn’t be more enthralled.”
Personal passions: Loves science; public-focused research, citizen science, influencing policy and science communication; life hacking and seeking peak emotional experiences; learning how to think deeply, cultivating healthy skepticism and becoming aware of his own biases
Hidden talent: Makes a “mean” chicken curry
How will your generation influence the industry? “My generation of millennials entering the water industry [is] increasingly diverse, brilliant and very energized about the possibility of making a difference. We are living in an increasingly complex world with the challenges of global warming, water scarcity, chemical and microbiological contaminants being discovered, and practical budgetary constraints. We will hopefully go beyond technical solutions and actively contribute to policy-making, public engagement and education, and, hopefully, make fewer mistakes than previous generations.”
Best advice: “Ours is an altruistic profession with the laudable goal of providing safe drinking water to the public, but we are not immune to corruption and wrongdoing, as the indictments of government scientists in [the] Flint water crisis [have] shown. Our ultimate loyalty should lie with the public and the planet. We should never forget that.”
Vice President of Operations
Utilizing a corporate educational continuance program, Kehrer completed coursework with a 3.7 GPA. He is a co-founding director of Chemlogic and developed it from concept. In his time with the company, he has finalized numerous co-manufacturing agreements using plants with excess capacity to manufacture Chemlogic products at lower cost. He manages business functions daily and has expanded inventories to exceed $1 million to meet customer demand and a three-day turn around.
Education: Studied marketing at Florida International University
Previous life: Attended college while actively pursuing a career in specialty chemicals Outside the office: Involved in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, National Association of Corrosion Engineers, Society of Petroleum Engineers, American Chemical Society, Young Republicans, and the Rayne, La., Chamber of Commerce
Giving back: Active member of Our Savior’s Church in Lafayette, La.
Roderick Reber III
Senior Polymer Engineer
Reber joined Arkema’s water membrane research and development team in 2011. With his contributions, the membrane technology center in King of Prussia, Pa., has built a solid understanding of the science of the membrane phase inversion process, which allows for effective development of new materials for the water membrane market. Reber recently was assigned the challenge of studying the immobilized activated carbon cartridge industry for potable water filtration.
Education: Studied economics and polymer engineering at Pennsylvania State University, materials science and engineering at Drexel University, and is completing his MBA at Villanova University
- Instrumental in developing a capability to evaluate new high- performance materials in microfiltration and ultrafiltration membrane technologies for Arkema
- Contributed to the development of new resin grades suited for the hollow-fiber membrane filtration market
- Contributor on several published papers and patent applications