For a long time after I stumbled into this industry, the vast majority of my education and opinions came from the manufacturer that the dealership I worked with represented. As far as I was concerned, there was only one decent brand of water treatment equipment, and the methods of treating water were all limited to the water problems we had in Southeast Michigan.
Then, I ran into a situation no one at the manufacturer or dealership could answer. So, in an effort to help one of my customers solve a problem, I turned to the Internet where I stumbled across the Bulletin Board on Water Technology’s website. I posted my question and shortly after, I had my answer and a happy customer.
I started reading the Bulletin Board posts on WaterTechOnline.com regularly, and I found my knowledge and view of the industry began to change. I kept seeing all these educated people with Water Quality Association (WQA) certification titles, and I wanted those letters after my name so I studied for and received the CWS certification. As my knowledge increased so did my closing ratio and my confidence. My belief in the product I was selling remained strong, but I also began to respect other manufacturers as well. I honestly believe this respect helped me sell more of my product because I wasn’t just bashing the competition. Instead, I was able to make an honest comparison.
Why attend WQA Aquatech USA?
I was in the industry for eight years before I found an opportunity to attend a national WQA convention. My first attendance was in Las Vegas in 2008. I did not know what to expect, but I had hoped it would be an opportunity to learn a few new things.
What I saw was sort of like visiting the Grand Canyon for the first time (which, by the way, is only a couple of hours drive from Las Vegas). Pictures, magazine articles or even videos cannot prepare someone for the experience of stepping foot on the convention floor at a WQA Aquatech USA event for the first time.
There are manufacturers and distributors from all over the world carrying every different type of water treatment technology imaginable. With numerous experts and innovators assembled together in one place, I can’t imagine a question that could not be answered or a problem that could not be addressed — and that’s just on the exhibitor floor.
For water treatment professionals, including sales, management and ownership, who are hungry for technical and practical knowledge, there are classes and sessions available. In the past several years, I have learned so much at this show about those aggravating issues that keep popping up with seemingly elusive solutions, and I have continued to educate myself on such alternative technologies as alkalinity filters and saltless systems. I’ve learned how these solutions work and how to educate my customers about them.
Looking back, getting ahead
I have been in this industry for nearly 17 years now. I have level six WQA CWS certification, and I even helped write the new WQA certification program. I work with companies all over the country and have seen thousands of water tests and applications, yet I am amazed at how much I learn that I did not know, or needed to be reminded of, when I attend these conventions.
However, for those individuals who may not get excited about learning an extensive amount of new information, another good reason to go is that there are so few other opportunities to interact with so many like-minded people. Just by coming to one of the "social mingles" after the trade floor closes might be enough to amaze some visitors by how much enthusiasm there is for our industry. Here you’ll find a room full of brilliant people with different ideas and opinions. Some may be at a dealer level while others may work globally, but we all share the common connection of simply wanting to help each other and our customers.
Here’s the bottom line: If you have never been to WQA Aquatech USA, I strongly recommend you try to get there. You may be exhausted at the end of each day, but you may see our industry in a whole new light and even bring home a wealth of new ideas and knowledge. If you’ve been to a convention then you might understand what I mean. Regardless of whether this is your first time, please stop by Moti-Vitality’s booth 1115 to say hello, pick up a rubber duck and/or a copy of my book, "Flowing to Success: An Excellent Book with a Cheesy Title for the Water Treatment Sales Professional."
Kelly R. Thompson, CWS VI, CI, is the owner of Moti-Vitality, a sales and management service and training company specific to the water treatment industry. He is also a member of the WQA Residential Water Treatment Task Force. With 15 years of industry experience, Thompson has written numerous articles as well as a book, Flowing to Success: An Excellent Book with a Cheesy Title for the Water Treatment Sales Professional.