When I first entered the industry two decades ago, one could learn a few basics from more experienced employees or a quick manufacturer’s training class and then navigate the residential treatment industry with relative ease. Nobody ever asked a complicated question, clients hung on every single word that their salesman said, profits were high and regulators stayed out of everyone’s way. Things certainly have changed since then! Water quality is worse nationwide, climate fluctuations and population growth have changed the availability of raw water, users are more informed and educated than ever before and the regulatory environment is stricter and more onerous than it has ever been.

To be a truly reputable, responsible member of the water industry in the 21st century, you absolutely must join the WQA and regional water quality association and earn the appropriate educational credentials. Don’t stop there though; you need to continue learning to ensure that you keep moving forward in the industry. Once you stop learning, that hard-earned knowledge begins to stagnate and you will certainly find yourself moving backwards rather than forward.

As a business owner, professional stagnation is arguably your worst enemy. Stagnation leads to lost business opportunities, the inability to hire rock star employees and of course, an inevitable loss of income and profitability. As the leader of your organization, you need to stay focused on continuously polishing your technical, business and leadership skills. There is no stopping or resting on your laurels; as soon as you think you know it all, or even that you know enough, you’ve begun your descent to business failure and industry obscurity.

If you’re not a business owner and you’re reading this article, then you are one of the smart ones who doesn’t want to be a wage slave,but one who would rather control your career path and earning power. As an employee, you’re only worth what you can deliver to the organization that employs you. Learning new skills and honing existing ones helps you to earn a valuable set of transferable skills that will help you wherever you work; nobody can ever take that hard-earned knowledge and skill set away from you. The best way to stay marketable and increase earning potential is to increase your knowledge base and industry connections.

Many opportunities in one event
The week of March 14 brings some of the greatest minds in the international water quality management industry together in Nashville, TN for the WQA Annual Convention and Exposition. Attendees and exhibitors at this convention now represent every segment of the increasingly complex and dynamic water quality improvement and management industry. It is by far the most cost effective way to develop and nurture relationships, learn about technologies, products and services, and learn about how to run your business better.

Training presentations and classes are divided into specific tracks, based on industry knowledge and expertise. Here’s a brief overview of the unprecedented educational agenda available to you at this year’s convention; you’d be a fool not to take full advantage of every learning opportunity:

The Water Treatment Basics track is ideal for anyone new to water treatment or in need of a tune-up. If you’re an old dog, it might seriously be time to relearn the old and pick up some new tricks here. You will learn about common contaminants that can be found in water, installing equipment according to prevailing code and industry best practices and several types of modern treatment technologies.

The Residential Applications & Regulatory Matters track provides an in-depth investigation of the trends and technologies at the forefront of residential water treatment. Participants will learn about innovative advancements in electrochemical water treatment, ion exchange and water conservation. This track will also feature discussions regarding regional variances in water problems in the US and their solutions, along with updates on key regulatory changes that will affect our industry.

The Commercial Applications track will teach you all about the commercial water treatment market, including how to prepare for commercial work, industry best practices in the field and even specialized training on beverage service, agricultural and car wash applications to name just a few.

The Process Water Applications track is designed to enhance your skill set and technical ability to work effectively in the highly profitable market space between regular commercial and heavy-industrial applications. You can expect to learn all about reverse osmosis system design, reusing water in beverage manufacturing and how to read plumbing and instrumentation diagrams (PID). From microfiltration to analytical instrumentation and disinfection, you’d be hard-pressed to find a topic on the technical side of process water treatment that isn’t covered.

The Business Operations & Management track offers the information and techniques to truly help you improve your work performance and grow your business to the next level. There will be a number of important classes and panel discussions covering marketing, management, sales and ethics, while providing practical solutions to improve the efficiency of fieldwork.

Here’s the convention schedule:
• Educational Sessions: Monday, March 14 – Wednesday, March 16
• Exposition: Tuesday, March 15 – Wednesday, March 16
• Professional Certification Exams: Tuesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 17

Don’t be an industry dinosaur. Get yourself to Nashville, take some classes, meet new people, do some business and keep moving forward!