WEFTEC stands for Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference – an annual event which takes place in North America. This year the event was hosted in Chicago between the 5th-9th October and our very own Mike Strahand (General Manager) was in attendance.
Recognised as the world’s biggest annual water quality exhibition, WEFTEC provides access and insight into the industry’s cutting-edge technologies and services; whilst also offering quality education and training services. The event consisted of 27 workshops, 140 technical sessions, over 1000 presentations and 86 years of experience and success.
ATi at WEFTEC
The primary purpose of ATi’s visit was to meet up with associates across the pond and also to converse with industry professionals attending the event. Mr Strahand met up with around 25 other industry suppliers from around the world and was able to share and exchange useful information and industry knowledge with them all.
One subject that seemed to be shared more than most amongst the attendees was that of money and investment into the water industry. Various organisations and professionals shared their experiences and feelings on what has been a tough year for many in the industry; as many believe not as much money is being spent as initially expected at the start of the year.
Buying Patterns Behind Schedule
According to many professionals attending this year’s WEFTEC, the water industry itself is at least a year and a half behind its buying schedule – compared to its usual buying patterns. The reasons why this is happening is not certain, but many industry experts have created their own theories and suggestions as to what is going on. For many people, this period of non-spending simply indicates an extended trough in a market known for fluctuation.
The UK water industry works and buys in AMPS (Asset Maintenance Plan). Every five years, each water company in the UK supplies an AMP that details their prosed spending strategies for the next five years. These plans are subject to review from Defra and Ofwat, who set the prices that each company is allowed to charge its customers for the coming five year period. We are currently in the period AMP5, which will finish for review in 2015 ready for AMP6.
The AMP system basically works in peaks and troughs. The market repetitively experiences incredible high spending patterns, followed by slumps of non-activity where hardly any money is spent at all. With this in mind, many industry professionals believe that we are simply experiencing a huge trough that is lasting longer than first expected.
“Trading conditions is tough – the bigger companies can ride these waves quite comfortably and still make profit. However, the smaller companies struggle and suffer at times of low-spenditure and can go out of business.” – Mike Strahand @DoctorChlorine
The Value of SMEs
The larger more corporate companies out there will not necessarily be affected by these troughs and the fluctuating nature of Asset Maintenance Plans. They have enough money, man-power and corporate backing to survive times of low-spenditure. However, smaller companies and SMEs feel the effects much more and will suffer during similar times.
“It is about time that the UK water industry recognised the true value of SMEs over giant powerhouse organisations.” – Mike Strahand.
Smaller organisations and specialists may not have the same resources and budget as their bigger counterparts, but what they can offer is a more tailored service with more personal support. Smaller companies are a lot more likely to engage in conversation, offer training and advice and are more likely to dedicate more time to a customer/supplier than a larger organisation. It is for these reasons that the UK water industry has recognised the importance of SMEs and is doing all it can to smooth out these peaks and troughs in order to stabilise the market and the competition. This news is welcome amongst all smaller company owners, because if things don’t change soon, they will begin to suffer and start to sink.