On April 2-5 in Indianapolis, Indiana, water treatment professionals gathered to experience the annual WQA Aquatech USA event. And, according to those we interviewed as well as our own experience at the show, the four-day event was well worth the investment in time and resources. In addition to testing and critiquing thousands of products on the actual show floor, attendees were treated to an extensive lineup of educational opportunities, networking gatherings, WQA industry update presentations and much more.
“The one thing that impresses me most about WQA Aquatech is there are always new products being introduced and you get a very diverse group of [water treatment professionals] under one roof,” weighed in Walt See, sales manager for Hankscraft H20 Products. “It’s a good opportunity to see what others are working on and a good opportunity to increase our brand awareness.”
As covered on WaterTechOnline.com, WaterTech e-News Daily and www.wqa.org, several awards and presentations were also a prominent part of the event. One noteworthy presentation was the Opening General Session/Industry Update/Keynote. “Today,” said WQA’s vice-president Richard Mest of Master Water Conditioning Corp., “we are here to honor leaders from around the world.”
One such trailblazer was the recipient of the Lifetime Membership award: “Regu” P. Regunathan, Ph.D., a 45-year water treatment veteran. “I am very proud [to receive this honor],” proclaimed Dr. Regunathan. “Over all these years, I have worked with directors, executives and CEOs. But, I have always enjoyed working with the technical people.”
Knox Williams, who maintains a long list of previous WQA awards, was inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame. “Thank you for this honor bestowed upon me,” he said.
WQA’s Executive Director Dave Haataja and WQA Board of Governor, Pentair’s Douglas “Sam” Karge rounded out the session with an update on the association’s current and future focuses. “Everything we do is for the betterment of our members and our membership continues to grow. As an association, we listen to our members and then take the lead,” added WQA’s President, American Aqua Inc.’s Dar Watts.
The association has experienced significant leadership role changes since the last show. According to insiders, the transition has been smooth. Dow Water & Process Solutions’ Cedella Beazley, who also sits on WQA’s Board of Directors, believes change is a good thing.
“Dave (Haataja) has brought in some fresh perspective and it feels like there is new energy in the association,” noted Beazley, who also gave credit to the efforts of past WQA leaders. “It’s an exciting time and a great opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors.”
While catching up with the association and advancing your industry knowledge in educational sessions are nice additions to attendees’ trade show experiences, learning about new products and manufacturers is always a primary and popular reason for attending these industry events. We dropped in on several exhibitors to learn what they were learning at this year’s show.
For instance, Mark R. Howlett, marketing development manager at 3M Purification, sees a dual purpose when attending these shows. “It’s not only an opportunity to appeal to our existing dealers, but it is also an opportunity to show others that we continue to invest in innovation,” he explained.
Referencing market-advancing information on and off the show floor, Andrew Palframan, senior vice president and general manager of RainSoft, offered, “This show has an educational component that is so important. If you are not continually learning, then you’re not moving forward.”
RainSoft’s Director of Marketing Richard Verson chimed in as well. “This show represents one of our best opportunities of the year to meet and talk with new dealer prospects,” he asserted.
In only its second year attending the Aquatech show, newcomer Superb Wrench LLC has caught on quickly to how important attending this trade show is from both sides of the booth visit. “We are attracting a lot of new customers and, more importantly, the feedback has been invaluable,” explained Phil Hall, sales manager.
“Last year was our first show,” reflected Hall, “and it was overwhelming. It was more of a learning experience for us. This year we are more equipped to answer technician’s specific questions. We learned so much by attending last year’s show [to prepare us this year]. It was great to talk to attendees and they educated us on their needs, making us a better manufacturer.”
“It was a great show,” can be attributed to most attendees as well as exhibitors this year. The central location for this Aquatech USA show was credited for some of the success. Many exhibitors we visited with expressed optimism based on the feedback from the show. Others credited outside factors for the popularity of this year’s event.
“We’re excited about the show for several reasons. The economy is picking up and getting stronger,” noted Cameron Tapp, president and CEO of ClearWater Tech, LLC, prior to the show. “Our goal is to educate WQA attendees.”
It is not too early to prepare for next year’s Aquatech USA show. Scheduled for March 18-21, 2014 in Orlando, Florida, the industry gathers again at the Orange County Convention Center. How can dealers and exhibitors best prepare for next year’s WQA Aquatech USA show?
“Pre-planning is absolutely key to a successful event. My advice is to know what you want to accomplish and think about the technologies you want to learn more about before you arrive. Have your questions prepared and ready to address with each vendor you plan to see,” concludes Tapp.