Each year, the Water Quality Association (WQA) puts together North America’s leading event showcasing point-of-use (POU) and point-of-entry (POE) technologies and businesses. WQA Aquatech USA, also referred to as The Water Opportunity Show™ by the association, offers a great setting for you to meet and network with like-minded peers. This trade show and event also puts you in front of manufacturers that have the ability to make your jobs more efficient and effective through product innovations and training. And, on the topic of advancing your industry knowledge, there are no shortage of educational sessions on and off the show floor.

In this preview article, we offer an overview of what you should expect at the show, what opportunities you will be exposed to and a view from the other side of the booth visit. We spoke with some exhibitors and got their feedback on how best to prepare for the show.

All of the topics, dates and times noted in this article and associated with the show are accurate as of 2/12/14 and are subject to change. Please visit www.wqa.org for the most updated information on these events and times.  

 

Education packed show  

With conference dates on March 18-21 and exhibition dates on March 19 and 20, there will be something new to see and learn each day. This year’s WQA Aquatech USA 2014 event will be hosted by the Orange County Convention Center (West Building, West Hall B, WB2-WB4), in Orlando, Florida. For more information about this venue or directions, please visit www.occc.net.

Similar to previous years, WQA is offering an opportunity for water treatment professionals who are Certified Water Specialists (CWS) to earn up to 2.5 CPD credits toward recertification at this one event. For instance, scheduled for Tuesday, March 18 at 8:00 a.m., the association is offering a 25 minute educational session on the topic of “Final Barrier” for 0.05 CPD. Also scheduled for that morning, the association provides a “Water Quality Overview” session for 0.05 CPD.

In recent years, according to WQA’s website and research, the number of professional certification and specialty exams taken at Aquatech USA continues to increase. In 2011, 92 exams were taken and at last year’s show, 145 exams were taken. At last year’s WQA Aquatech USA show in Indianapolis, continues the WQA website, over 60 hours of education were offered in the all-access show pass.            

Due to the wide range of topics and attendees’ understanding of the market needed for each educational topic, we encourage attendees to take the time and review the entire schedule of events before committing to specific sessions. Some sessions overlap so it is important to have a plan and goals ahead of time and then schedule your time accordingly.  

“WQA Aquatech USA is a great opportunity for industry experts, sourcing partners and dealers to gather in one place for face-to-face discussions and hands on demonstrations of product,” says Mike Trammell, who is vice-president of product management for Watts Water Quality & Conditioning Products. “This allows for a lot of education and business to be completed in a short period of time. Utilizing the time at the show correctly can be a tremendous expense savings compared to making multiple business trips.”

Also, as Trammell points out, dealers should consider attending some sessions they have attended previously. “There is always something to learn with the many changes in technology. Of high importance are sessions pertaining to certification and compliance related topics,” he adds.

Please see Water Technology’s Exhibit Product Guide for a complete schedule of events, educational sessions and exhibition hours to optimize your planning. Again, scheduling is subject to change so for the most updated information, please visit www.wqa.org.

 

Notable presentations  

While every minute of the event is an opportunity to advance your business understanding in some capacity, there are several presentations scheduled that attendees might not want to miss. For example, the keynote speaker for WQA Aquatech USA 2014 will be The New York Times bestselling author Charles Fishman. Fishman, author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” will speak on how people’s changing attitudes about water will affect business. He will also speak about what is at stake, what participants need to know, where innovation is happening and how companies can benefit.

“We have been living through a 100-year-long golden age of water,” he explained in a WQA press release. “But that golden age of water — where water is unlimited, safe and free — is over. We are at the dawn of a new age of high-stakes water, an era in which supplies and systems are under pressure from growing populations, surging economic growth and dramatic swings in weather.”

Additionally, the association’s Opening General Session, which is scheduled for Wednesday, March 19 from 9:30 am to 10:50 am, is open to all attendees. WQA traditionally takes this time to provide attendees with an update on the industry, up-to-date regulatory information and efforts and general remarks. The association also recognizes prominent contributors to our industry with various awards.

 

Exhibition exchange

WQA has done an outstanding job in putting together this annual comprehensive event to complement its exhibition. Making the decision to invest in attending a trade show is made easier after looking at the schedule of events and the opportunities the association makes available.

However, it is on the trade show floor that dealers and end customers get the rare opportunity to look manufacturers’ employees in the eye and explain their daily water treatment challenges.

And, those manufacturers we spoke to for this article, encourage dealers to come prepared with the right questions in mind. Often, notes Trammell, booth visitors will initially focus on the price of a product. However, other key elements such as quality, key differentiators, pre and post sales support and availability should be considered ahead of price.

Most exhibitors are in attendance to grow awareness and education of their products and services among other reasons. Similar to dealers, many manufacturers take advantage of the educational opportunities on and off the show floor that the event provides. And, some of that education comes in the form of dealer feedback.

Now attending his third WQA Aquatech USA show, Phil Hall, sales manager at Superb Wrench LLC, explains how dealer feedback from this specific show has made his company and its product offerings better year after year. “We look for dealers to tell us what they need to be able to better do their job,” says Hall. “Any questions, concerns and feedback we get from dealers at the show is huge for us. We like it when they tell us what issues they are having because it helps us keep up with the times.”

In addition to seeing North America’s largest showcase of residential, commercial and industrial products under one roof, many international exhibitors will also be on hand with top products. We spoke with one such manufacturer, Sweden-based Blueblue AB which is featuring its Bluewater brand at this year’s show.

“WQA Aquatech USA is absolutely the best place to be to put our [products] in front of the industry’s movers and shakers in the North American marketplace,” says Niclas Wullt, managing director for Blueblue AB. “This will be the first time [for us at] WQA Aquatech USA and we are looking forward with great interest to looking at the emerging trends in the U.S. We also eagerly look forward to benchmarking our products against the best of the best in the U.S. We will look and listen carefully to all we see at WQA Aquatech USA as part of our effort to stay at the forefront of residential and light commercial water purification.”

According to Wullt, dealers should focus on understanding a product’s quality first and foremost. “There is no substitute for excellence in delivering water [purification to] high expectation consumers,” he asserts.

Welcome to the show and please stop by Water Technology’s booth #823 for a free copy of this issue or our Exhibit Product Guide. You can also sign up to receive a free subscription of this publication and its online products.