Information is "King" in Current Economic Climate

With information being "king" in this volatile economy, it is paramount to manufacturers' success to have access to this critical market data in a cost-effective and timely manner.

By Anthony Picozzi

With information being "king" in this volatile economy, it is paramount to manufacturers' success to have access to this critical market data in a cost-effective and timely manner. WWEMA has been providing this for over 101 years.

The "queen" of WWEMA, Dawn Kristof Champney, held court on September 29th at WWEMA's annual Presidents Council meeting. This event consists of senior executives from leading manufacturers in the water industry. With water treatment becoming a global focal point, the leaders of these companies discussed the issues currently facing the marketplace. The overall feeling from the executives is that we are in the very early stages of recovery. While stocks are starting to recover, most WWEMA manufacturers have postponed hiring and have either cut back on overall spending or have frozen spending at current levels.

Key topics of discussion were:

  • Current and Future Economic Outlook - Domestic and International
  • Washington Updates - ARRA Spending and Buy American
  • WWEMA 2009 Supplier Cost Survey
  • Best Practices - Leading indicators, Industry Benchmarks

Domestically, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) continues to be a hot topic among manufacturers. The economic stimulus package enacted by Congress in February 2009 was intended to provide a stimulus of approximately $787 billion to the U.S. economy in the wake of the economic downturn, with $6 billion dedicated to water and wastewater infrastructure. But is the stimulus package really stimulating our industry? The feedback is that very little of the monies have been spent or allocated to date.

WWEMA manufacturers discussed the ARRA and the pros and cons of the Buy American clause contained in this Act. Two primary concerns were the potential for retaliation from other countries and the additional costs required to meet this requirement. The biggest positive aspect of the Act is that although it is still in the very early stages for the water sector, the funds are finally starting to flow into the system.

The domestic business has been seeing a large upswing in repairs and upgrades while new capital purchases lag from the previous year levels. Internationally, the water business continues to show promise, but currency fluctuations and potential volatility in metal markets continue to cause concern. Most manufacturers viewed the international market not as a "Global" water market, but more as a "Regional" water market. The regional drivers are so unique throughout different parts of the world that a "Global Strategy" proves difficult to implement.

WWEMA conducted a cost survey among its membership. This survey offers members a benchmark of industry indicators. The survey measures cost increases – from raw materials to production - from 2008 to 2009. The survey also reviews how these increases are handled and whether the market will bear these increases or are being absorbed by the manufacturers. Results were discussed at the meeting.

"Green Technologies" was another topic of interest among the attendees at the President's Council, from how to define "green" and the goals associated with green initiatives, to how it all ties in with ARRA funding. Discussions focused on:

  • Sustainability - meeting the water needs in ways that can continue indefinitely into the future without affecting or depleting natural resources.
  • "Cradle to cradle" design - ending the "cradle to grave" cycle of technologies, by creating technologies that can be fully reclaimed or have beneficial re-use.
  • Source reduction - reducing solid wastes and technologies that reduce water consumption.
  • Innovation - developing new alternatives technologies and the reduction in time it takes for acceptance.

The attendees also received an update on a joint initiative between WWEMA and the American Water Works Association to define the barriers to bringing new technologies to market and possible solutions to allow these technologies to become proven and accepted technologies in the water and wastewater industries.

WWEMA, a 101-year old organization, continues to provide its membership with critical information in today's ever changing water markets. From engaging in government rulemaking, to advocating good business practices, WWEMA supplies its membership with timely, cost-effective information to aid them in identifying market trends and opportunities critical to their business success. Key business decisions can be made with fact-based information, not "word on the street" banter.

If your company is interested in joining WWEMA, please log on to www.wwema.org for more information. WW

About the author:
Anthony Picozzi is Senior Vice President of Sales for MIOX Corporation, a manufacturer of water disinfection technology based in Albuquerque, NM. Picozzi serves on WWEMA's Board of Directors.

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