Editorial: Winter 2017
Notes on knowledge
By Colleen Cross
There is nothing like getting out in the field to refresh your mind and renew your sense of purpose. As editor of Ground Water Canada, I take every opportunity to get out and meet water well drillers, pump installers, hydrogeologists, instructors and manufacturers who work in the hard-working ground water industry.
I found these folks in spades at the U.S. National Ground Water Association’s Groundwater Week in Las Vegas in early December and the experience gave me a winter boost of inspiration.
To me, the phrase “in the field” means getting away from my desk to see a variety of settings, viewpoints and drillers at work. For many of you, being in the field means being on the drill site and that is your status quo. Finding time to get out among likeminded people is a rare opportunity and one you should seize with both hands.
Breaking out of your everyday work routine can help you drill better and run your business more efficiently. Workshops, trade shows and conferences give you time to think about the big picture and how your work fits into it; they reunite you with old friends and introduce you to new friends who face the same challenges you do; they alert you to potential problems; and they give you access to reliable technical information you can’t always find on the Internet.
One trend that caught my ear that week was an information shift toward the consumer. Mark Reeder of Franklin Electric made a cool presentation on seven trends and looked at how they affect the water well drilling industry.
It makes sense: the Internet provides an avalanche of information that well owners, current or potential customers can read – not all of it correct.
Jim Smith of Fleming College provided one example of how customers are becoming ground water savvy at a talk on training he delivered at the Canadian conference last June. While working on a drilling job, Smith fielded questions from a customer who was keenly interested in the work and used terminology such as “annular space” that you wouldn’t expect from your average well owner. It kept the driller-instructor on his toes. Even this positive example shows how important it is for drillers and staff to be current on techniques, requirements and equipment, and, maybe more importantly, able to share that information effectively.
Your best defence against losing the trust of a customer is knowledge. No one can know everything, but if you are aware of issues that concern the public and the latest best practices, you could become that customer’s go-to source.
Events like Groundwater Week are a great place to tap into knowledge. An NGWA working group session on best practices for radium is just one example of professional networking at its best. NGWA professional development director Kathy Butcher walked attendees (most of whom were Canadian, I might add) through the current association guidelines, taking comments, clarifications and questions along the way. An interesting discussion ensued as to how it is transported and bafflement expressed about “where it buys a ticket” into ground water, as Butcher colourfully put it. There is good information available from the U.S. Geological Survey and Canadian and U.S. government sources, but nowhere else can you attend such a relaxed yet focused forum of your peers that takes in information and allows for deeper thinking and sharing of information. It’s networking at its best.
Here’s to many networking opportunities in 2017, and with them a renewed sense of purpose for you and a profitable 2017 for your business!