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“The Aughts,” as the years 2000 to 2009 have been dubbed, are officially behind us. If you feel more stressed out than you did in 1999, there may be a reason. Looking back, it has been a time of almost unprecedented economic uncertainty that has forced us to rethink how we carry on “business as usual.” Looking ahead, it is time to refocus on how to grow in the future.
Water Quality Products is excited to help you do this by bringing you our annual Industry Forecast (page 6), dedicated to passing along predictions and advice from various innovators within the water treatment industry, including leaders from the Water Quality Assn., NSF Intl., International Bottled Water Assn. and KX Technologies. This year, we also feature a Dealer Forecast in our Industry Insight column (page 34), offering advice from Vincent Kent, president of Abendroth Water Conditioning, Ft. Atkinson, Wis., and 2009-2010 WQA president.
The new year will mark a time of emergence from the bunkers, and rather than lamenting the loss of the relatively easy success of the past, it is time to follow the lead of many who have expressed their belief that recent challenges have forced our industry to reorganize and restructure to ultimately emerge stronger. One major key to success is local community involvement. Gone are the days of making it on your own. Just like the residents of your community benefit from the products and services you offer, you also benefit from being a visible participant in local groups and associations. Abendroth noted that consumers’ attitudes have shifted; instead of making purchasing decisions based on brand names, they now buy based on relationships. In an age when it seems the economy can’t be trusted, people want to have a personal connection to where their money is going.
In the regulatory realm, we have already seen the industry respond in a positive way to the challenge of California’s AB 1366, a bill passed in October that turns control of softener regulation in certain areas affected by salinity over to local governments. Instead of panicking at the prospect of water softener bans, water professionals are banding together to provide education and resources for local governing bodies to demonstrate that salinity can be reduced without bans. They are positioning themselves as valuable team members in the challenge to reduce salinity, rather than as the enemy.
As testing technology advances, stories of emerging contaminants and newly discovered contamination peppered the headlines in 2009. The Associated Press reported the contamination of water supplies at thousands of schools across the U.S., and the Chicago Tribune uncovered that Crestwood, Ill., had been drawing water from a contaminated well for more than two decades. This heightened media coverage, which will only increase, means that consumers are more concerned about their water quality than in the past and will be looking for solutions to provide safer, better-tasting water for their families.
While business as usual is no longer an option, WQP is committed to providing the most relevant and up-to-date content to help you plan for a successful future.