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OGWA’s The Source: How unity will make us better

January 16, 2020  By Craig Stainton, Executive Director, Ontario Ground Water Association

What is the problem?

Water is the most valuable resource on this planet. Yes, it seems abundant, but when you get right down to the nitty gritty there is a large amount that is not readily usable for human consumption.


By extrapolation, then, those who procure readily usable, safely consumable water from Mother Earth are by virtue of their occupation the most valuable professionals on this planet.

Why then, are these “most valuable professionals” not recognizing their significance and treating themselves and their profession accordingly? Is it due to modesty, humility or resignation? Is the general public holding them down? Why does this industry trend towards a lack of self-importance? It is time for well drillers and pump installers to end their self-deprecating tendencies ­– enough with the undervaluing of their abilities.

How do we put an end to this undervaluing? Let’s start by agreeing we are Ground Water Professionals. We all perform a job to high standards; we all have attained extra education and we all do a specific type of work to earn a living. The next step would be living that definition: high standards with continuing education in our specific fields of work and, additionally, getting paid fairly for that work.

Fair pay for that work does not mean whatever is left after you discount the price to get the job. As Dwayne and Shawn say in their column in these pages, there is no prize for doing the most jobs in a year. If you are discounting your prices to get jobs, you are getting nowhere fast. Let’s simplify this so you get my concept: If you make $2 profit/job on 50 jobs that is $100. If you make $4 profit/job you need only do 25 jobs to make that same $100 profit. So, half the work for the same profit. That is half the wear and tear on you, your employees and your equipment, and that’s worth some money too.

You are professionals, ground water professionals. You source pristine ground water for you clients. Rather than discounting your prices, come together with the other professionals in your area, look at your costs and figure out a fair price. A fair price is one that covers your costs, allows for equipment replacement, builds in profit and, most importantly, pays you and your employees fairly. How can you ever expect to attract or keep good help if you don’t pay a decent wage and offer some benefits. In a recent conversation with a Fleming staff person I was told most of their graduates are going into the construction industry due to the notoriously poor pay in the water well sector. Come together with the other professionals in your area and look at how you present your prices to prospective clients. Shoot for uniformity. The bad actors – the shysters – will soon be unmasked if three or four of you in an area all price in a uniform manner your clients can understand. The days of pricing only per foot should be discouraged: there are just too many variables and it gives the shysters a foot in the door.

Treat your competitors as colleagues. There is enough work for everyone: no one complains to me about not having any work. Join any and all professional associations: your local (provincial) association, your national association (there is now a Canadian National Ground Water Association) and, if you have the ability, the National Ground Water Association in the United States. Get involved.

We are better together. Unity builds strength.

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