Organizations Discuss Combined WEF, AWWA Shows

It is great when organizations pledge to work together in a cooperative way for the benefit of those they independently represent.

By Kim Arnold

It is great when organizations pledge to work together in a cooperative way for the benefit of those they independently represent. This is the case with the WWEMA-WEF and the WWEMA-AWWA partnering agreements. The latest opportunity to employ WWEMA's partnering agreements occurred in December, when Dawn Kristof and I appeared before the leadership of both organizations at a joint meeting of the AWWA and WEF officers.

By way of background, at WWEMA's 94th Annual Meeting held last November, a panel discussion took place on ways in which our respective organizations can form alliances to strengthen their collective presence in the global market. This led to a discussion of the proliferation of international trade events showcasing water and wastewater technologies and the increasing strain they have placed on equipment manufacturers' marketing budgets.

In that regard, several members in the audience queried the AWWA and WEF representatives on the panel about the feasibility of joining their two trade shows, or making them bi-annual events, as a way of helping exhibitors economize their limited marketing dollars. This lead to a brief, yet robust, discussion on the merits of these options with views spanning across the spectrum.

The result was a request of WWEMA's leadership to approach AWWA and WEF on the feasibility of conducting a joint and/or bi-annual conference and exhibition. Although WWEMA has taken a neutral position on these options, our leadership did agree to explore it further with these organizations under the auspices of our partnering agreements.

We requested an audience at their December Joint Officers meeting and were granted time on the agenda to present our proposal to form a joint task force, comprising representatives of the three organizations, to objectively and thoroughly evaluate the merits of these options. Admirably, the officers of AWWA and WEF agreed to our proposal and offered to initiate a series of meetings of the task force in 2003. Our first task force meeting is set for mid-May, with three representatives from each organization attending.

The concept of a joint conference and exhibition would have to be a win/win/win situation for all three organizations. It would have to address the needs of exhibitors who display in both shows, as well as those who only exhibit in one. It would have to be revenue neutral to the two sponsoring organizations. It should also offer greater value to the attendees, both from a technical program and exhibition perspective.

The overall goal of the task force should be to arrive at a solution, or solutions, that make good fiscal sense for the long-term interests of our respective memberships and the industry at large. The ultimate decision may be to maintain the status quo or pursue a new approach toward serving the North American market. The fact that these organizations are willing to engage in such a debate is a tribute to their visionary leadership.

It is also another example of how Partnering Agreements can prove valuable in facilitating the exchange of views and the combining of resources toward the betterment of the industry at large.

We applaud AWWA and WEF for seizing this opportunity.

About the author: Kim Arnold is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The Gorman-Rupp Company, an Ohio-based manufacturer of pumps and pumping systems for the municipal water, wastewater, sewage, industrial, construction and petroleum markets. He currently serves as Chairman of the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association.

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