Kathleen Burbidge and Eric Yeggy are passionate about water. And they’re glad to see their industry becoming even more future-minded and community-oriented.
Both are leading voices within the Water Quality Association, which represents more than 2,500 manufacturers, suppliers and dealers worldwide that focus on water treatment—residential, commercial, industrial and in small communities.
Burbidge and Yeggy are optimistic on several fronts about the future of their industry, including: Having a larger voice. Overcoming supply chain issues and labor shortages. And providing training and education for young professionals and women.
“There’s a real opportunity in the trades right now to harness the value of being at the table, having a larger voice together and being tuned in to the trends in the space,” says Burbidge, who is the WQA’s global regulatory & government affairs manager.
Burbidge is seeing more companies become intentional about bringing entry-level employees, trainers and leaders into larger industry events.
“They’re promoting professional certifications in their organization,” she says. “So, you really begin to observe those companies’ passion for water—and the passion for the company's mission gets run through their entire operation.”
Yeggy, the WGA’s technical affairs director, concurs.
Looking ahead into 2022, he’s got his eye on COVID and any future variants still being possible factors that will affect the supply chain and add to the labor shortage.
“Flexibility will be key to overcome supply chain issues and labor shortages,” he says.
A focus on networking skills will be critical, Yeggy believes.
“If you're in the water treatment space, you want to come to the WQA Convention and Exposition to network with suppliers so you can develop a more robust supply chain,” he says. “If you’re not in the water treatment space, then there's a convention for your industry. The point is: Get to know what that is, go there and network so you have flexibility.”
To address labor shortages, Burbidge points to the WQA’s Leadership Engagement and Development (LEAD) program. Its intention is to forge deeper participation in the industry and to help build leadership skills.
LEAD has three advisory councils that focus on women, young professionals and inclusion for all members.
“These programs are fueled by our members, and it’s been exciting to see how it works,” Burbidge says. “Someone becomes a mentee, then comes back the next year and becomes a mentor. Then we see these people start to rise, and it demonstrates the full success and intention of the program.”
Kathleen Burbidge and Eric Yeggy recently joined ServiceTitan’s Jackie Aubel as part of Season 5 of the “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast, which included their thoughts on:
A renewed mindset for water treatment professionals.
The successes of WQA’s LEAD mentoring program.
Science-based education and communication about water quality.
Recent community growth in the water treatment industry.
Attending the WQA’s Convention & Exposition 2022.