WQA President Jim Stern previews 2023 convention

March 10, 2023
WQA President Jim Stern answers numerous questions about this year's conference and his goals for the association.

This year's WQA Convention will take place from April 18-20 in Las Vegas. WQP asked WQA President Jim Stern, who is also the executive vice president for A.O. Smith Corporation, various questions about the show, including what attendees can expect, what this year's theme is and more. 

What can attendees expect from the 2023 Convention? 

I think our convention theme – Momentum – describes it best: The WQA Convention and Exposition is back, with more excitement and energy than ever. The water treatment industry is growing and expanding, and our members are ready to harness that momentum.  

Attendees can update their knowledge of the latest research, regulations and advancements through our exciting education sessions; they can discover new products at our busy exposition; and they can talk shop with other professionals who are navigating some of the same challenges. They’ll hear from thought leaders, see colleagues honored with leadership awards and have a surprise entertainment experience at the keynote session. Plus, this year we’ll get a look inside our customers’ heads when we review results from WQA’s latest Consumer Opinion Study. 

Any changes from last year? 

The biggest change this year is that we’re in a brand-new venue, Caesars Forum, right in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. This amazing convention space is directly connected to the two official WQA convention hotels, Harrah’s Las Vegas and The LINQ, so you won’t need to ride a shuttle or call a cab to get to the convention hall. Having us all under the same roof means more opportunities to get to know each other and learn how we can help each other, too. 

Also, we’ve redesigned our big general session this year. The keynote session features many of the things you loved about our past general sessions, including awards presentations, thoughts from industry leaders and an inspiring keynote address, but we also have some surprise entertainment to get the energy flowing. No, I’m not going to give any hints other than it’s going to be FUN – and if you’re not there at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, you won’t understand what people are talking about for the rest of the convention. 

Are you still seeing COVID-19 impacts on the 2023 convention? 

Just a little. We expect this convention to be our biggest and best since the pandemic forced us to cancel in 2020. More of our international exhibitors (and attendees) are able to travel this year, so we gladly opened up more space on our expo floor to accommodate them! We’re looking forward to seeing old friends again and meeting new colleagues. 

We will continue to follow appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols. Our convention website, wqa.org/convention, offers the most up-to-date information. 

Is there a theme for the 2023 convention? If so, what is it? 

Our theme this year is “Momentum,” meaning that we’re offering convention-goers the new tools, skills, knowledge and information they need to keep their businesses moving forward. 

 What will be some of the biggest topics you expect to be discussed at the convention? 

PFAS continues to loom large in our industry, and we’re addressing it through educational sessions as well as a pre-convention PFAS Symposium. We’re going to discuss ethical practices this year and share results of the latest Consumer Opinion Study. Our keynote address will cover ways we can all be advocates for our industry. 

We offer technical tracks geared to three levels of learners, from those brand-new to the industry to those seeking to advance their skills with commercial applications or detailed research results. We also offer a business operations track, and two other pre-convention education opportunities, the popular RO Sizing Workshop and the WQA Business Boot Camp, a day set aside for water treatment dealers to develop specific, personalized financial and marketing tools.  

What are you most looking forward to about this year's convention?  

Seeing our industry colleagues. I always enjoy opportunities to share with and learn from colleagues from across the industry and around the world. 

Are there any goals you have during your time as president you'd like to share? 

My goals are closely aligned with WQA’s strategic goals: 

  • Growing membership and advance professionalism of industry participants; 
  • Increasing advocacy; 
  • Being the “go to” resource on water treatment; and 
  • Driving public awareness and knowledge 

I have spent much of the year listening to our members’ thoughts on how our industry needs to evolve; I have encouraged members to get involved as much as possible; and I have promoted our advocacy work and encouraged others to take part. 

 Anything else you'd like to add? 

If you haven’t been able to attend the last few years, it’s time to come back! For nearly 50 years, the WQA Convention & Exposition has been the signature event of the worldwide water treatment industry, and it won’t be complete without you. I’m looking forward to seeing you there! 

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