2011 Joint SEBWA & MABWA Convention and Trade Show
A Complete Success in New Orleans!
by Susan Gibson, Executive Director, SEBWA & MABWA
Diversify & Grow Your Business!
Right on the heels of an economic recession, Bottlers and Distributors from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Kansas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina, along with 32 Supplier companies were represented at the 2011 Joint SEBWA & MABWA Convention and Trade Show. This year’s annual conference took place at the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel in New Orleans, LA on February 24-26.
The conference program featured educational sessions on topics of great importance to the Bottlers and Distributors including a wide array of technical and educational workshops providing continuing education credits. A two-part General Session took place on topics pertaining to ways to Diversify & Grow Your Business. The conference included a number of value added features and events: the 2011 Joint Trade Show; a tour of Evamor Products, Inc. (small pack bottling and bottle manufacturing plant) located in Covington, LA; a golf tournament; and a tour of the New Orleans Garden District. The highlighting social event for the 2011 conference was a special Welcome Reception held at the National World War II Museum which was sponsored by DS Waters of America, Inc. And, just as an added excitement for the conference, actor Bruce Willis was in New Orleans taping scenes in front of the convention hotel for his upcoming movie “Looper”.
There was new and added value for SEBWA and MABWA Suppliers exhibiting at the show. Through a fair selection process suppliers were chosen to participate in an hour presentation called “Speed Dating with Your Suppliers”. Led by SEBWA Supplier Chairman John Host of MTN Products, and MABWA Supplier Chairwoman Velma Roppolo of Star Solutions, supplier speakers gave a 5-minute talk on their company and products. In addition, there was a new raffle drawing that took place throughout the show that increased one-on-one activity at the exhibits. Roving reporter Brian Rose, Water Event, announced the winners and spotlighted the Suppliers. Both programs received high ratings among the attendees.
The program, organized by the SEBWA and MABWA Programs and Forums Committees chaired by Dr. Fred Garrett (SEBWA) and Gil Gibson (MABWA), was rated at the top of past conferences according to post conference surveys. Attendees were quite impressed with the level of the presentations and educational material provided. Attendees gave the conference an overall “excellent” rating!
Gil Gibson, President Business Development for DS Waters of America, Inc. served as Masters of Ceremonies for the General Session and gave the opening presentation on the topic of “The Importance of Diversifying Your Business for Growth in Today’s Market”. With a focus on a changing and challenging industry, Gil noted that the challenges include financial crisis, economic slowdown, and increased unemployment. He covered the challenges of environmental concerns around BPA, oil based resins, PET bottles in landfills, transport and route delivery trucks, the overall carbon footprint, plus concerns about the rise in private label water at low retail prices and the perception that the HOD 5-gallon cooler is a dinosaur industry.
“A static business model is not sustainable and it will not last.” — Gil Gibson
Gil talked about numerous options for increasing revenues and profitability including the natural options of coffee, filtration, and complementary products. “Complementary products to bottled water create an even stronger bond with customers, however, don’t neglect the principals of your core bottled water business,” he said.
Allen Wankat, Franchise Business Development Manager for Culligan International, spoke on ways to assure “Effective Home Shows” providing his insights on how to change a static outcome and become more successful. “With a few strategic changes in how you manage your home shows, you can develop basic strategies, affect changed behavior, improve cost controls, gain more leads and sales, and provide a toolbox of ideas,” Allen said.
“Decide your purpose and define a successful show!” – Allen Wankat
“This is a different way of selling than we are used to as we are in front of hundreds or thousands – not one at a time like a driver selling or a sales team.” Allen noted that 80% of show leads are mishandled (according to author/trainer Barry Siskind). He covered the types of attendees for a typical home show, what to do before and after the show, and advised the Bottlers/Distributors to develop an effective speech that can describe and sell an idea in 30 seconds or less.
“Selling or Staying…that is the Question” was the topic presented by Brian Rose, President of Water Event. “Selling a business is a process and not an event,” Brian said. He gave the top five reasons why business owners sell their companies for less than maximum value and talked about market cycles, which are determined by interest rates, tax rates, economic cycles, inflation, etc. “Sell when the market is ready, which may be different from when you are ready,” he said. Brian advised utilizing a selling strategy that explains the past and sells the future.
“If the truth is going to kill your deal, you have no deal.” – Brian Rose
“Buyers buy a documented, believable future,” he said. He covered how to analyze the sales price, and said the number one sales deal killer is the seller’s ego. He detailed optimum buyers and negotiation mistakes. “The ultimate value of a company is what a willing and informed buyer will pay a willing and informed seller, neither of whom is under any duress,” but “the reality is that someone is always under duress,” he said.
Jim Lewandowski, Vice President and General Manager of Sparkletts® Drinking Water’s Texas Region talked about how to “Turn Your Company into a Sales Organization”. Jim’s talk included how to set and manage expectations, develop a S.M.A.R.T. program (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound), provide leadership, coach for performance and change, gain feedback, and handle performance issues.
“Your ability to set clear expectations for individuals directly affects your group’s ability to support the mission of your organization.” – Jim Lewandowski
Quoting General Colin Powell, Lewandowski said, “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” He said, “Driving performance for results requires planning, coaching, and reviewing performance. It takes all 3 components to ensure results and to develop our employees…our greatest asset.”
Joe Doss, President and CEO of the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), presented an update on federal and state legislation and the industry at large. “It was another challenging year for the bottled water industry,” he reported. “Our critics’ ultimate goal is to put us out of business.” Joe provided a video featuring the facts about bottled water, and reported that 2010 Beverage Marketing Corporation figures preliminarily report a 6.4% volume increase for PET, a slight (-2.3%) volume decrease for HOD, PET leads consumption share at 63.2% followed by HOD at 13.2%, Vended at 8.7%, Domestic Sparkling at 2.4% and Imports at 1.4%. “As the economy improves, bottled water sales have rebounded after two consecutive years of decreases,” he said. “Bottled water is still the second largest product in the beverage category – behind only CSDs,” Joe said.
“Bottled water is a safe, healthy, convenient beverage and any efforts to discourage the consumption of bottled water are not in the public interest.” – Joe Doss
Joe reported that bottled water makes up just 1/3 of one percent of U.S. waste stream, and efforts to reduce the environmental impact of packaging must focus on all consumer goods. Bottled water accounts for only .002% of all groundwater withdrawals in the U.S. He spoke about current Federal and State issues at the forefront including BPA, Food Safety Legislation, new responsibilities due to the recently adopted “Food Modernization Act”, and Bottled Water Quality Reports, to name a few. On the states side he reported on groundwater, recycling, BPA, Bottled Water Taxes, and Bottled Water Labeling Regulation.
Don Orr, Vice President of Point of Use Products for MTN Products, presented on the POU industry as it relates to bottled water companies entering the POU side of the business. He covered different equipment options and emerging technology.
Michael Alfierie, Principal Geologist with SDII Global, presented a comprehensive look at “Spring Source Development” including: the regulatory guidelines; resource stewardship (according to the IBWA Model Code); and spring shed hydrogeology considering the water cycle and hydrogeology.
“Hydrogeology is the branch of geology that involves the study of the interrelationships of geologic materials and the processes (occurrence, movement, geologic interaction, and quality) of water beneath the Earth’s surface.” – Michael Alfierie
Exploration methodologies were discussed including desktop feasibility studies, hydrogeologic explorations: geophysical evaluation/reconnaissance, and hydrogeologic exploration (drilling, sampling, logging, installation of test boreholes and observation wells, borehole geophysical evaluation, aquifer/well performance testing and spring response, and hydrogeochemical relationships); Collection; and what he called “According to Plan or Murphy’s Law”.
“Launch New Products: the Process, Marketing & Training” was the topic presented by Jim MacMillan, Director of Business Development, DS Waters of America, Inc. Jim said HOD companies simply have to change the game and talked about how the bottled water industry, like many other industries, over the past several years has had to offset declines in revenue.
“HOD companies simply have to change the game!” – Jim MacMillan
“We can not and will not just stand by idle and watch this happen.” The HOD system offers us unique opportunities like no other delivery system…we must harness and take advantage of that opportunity.” MacMillan also noted that HOD companies are “always looking for ways to connect with customers and bring them value like no one else can by providing class service.” He covered the products, price, truck placement, promotions and plans, participation/penetration, and the profitability involved in diversification. MacMillan also talked about how to determine if added products provide strategic priorities. He said to try to avoid the “boil the ocean approach”.
Technical & Educational Workshops
Cynthia Herold, Corporate Food & Safety/Hygiene Manager, Nestle Waters of North America, and Efrem Pesyna, Strategic Sales Manager, G.E. Healthcare, conducted an educational workshop on “Microbiology and Testing”. Cynthia stated, “Microorganisms are very small and used the example of how one cup of yogurt contains 22 X the number of the world’s population (120,000,000,000) of separate living organisms. The two covered membrane filtration technology and the order of testing was outlined. The process of examination and enumeration of colonies was described in detail as was the detection of total coliforms and the confirmation of profile coliforms. A microbiology laboratory audit checklist was provided for the attendees to take home and use in their facilities.
“The ABC’s of Disinfection Methods” was the workshop focus for Chris Dunn, General Manager of the Beverage Quality Program for NSF International. Chris identified disinfection as “Any process to destroy or prevent growth of microbes, the process(s) intended to inactivate (destroy the infectivity of) the microbes by physical, chemical, or biological processes; the alteration or destroying of essential structures of functions with the microbe; methods that work differently by focusing on different essential structures such as proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. Chris said the goal is to destroy pathogens within the time available for disinfection. He provided a comparison of common methods of disinfection, talked about Bromate and Bromate potential, as well as how to monitor Bromide and Bromate levels. “The FDA list of what they judge to be ‘safe and suitable antimicrobial agents’ for use with bottled water are Ozone, Chlorine, Chloramine, Chlorine Dioxide, Silver Nitrate/Hydrogen Peroxide, and UV. The FDA has to be petitioned formally to consider different technologies and the costs to obtain approval of a new methods can exceed $100,000,” Chris said.
Dr. Alan Leff, Director for Quality and Production, Primo Water Corporation, provided an educational workshop on “Green and Sustainable in The Bottled Water Industry”. His workshop included an overview of the definitions, concepts, bottled water green, regulatory precautions, proposed FTC revisions, and how to continue to move forward. Alan said, “Green is used to refer to good and services, laws, guidelines, and policies considered to inflict minimal or no harm on the environment. Sustainability is policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (USPA). Greenwashing is the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in the use of resources (Terrachoice.com). He said the concepts for the bottled water industry are to save packaging, save resources, be kind to the environment, and maintain competitiveness.
Bob Hirst, IBWA Vice President of Education, Science, and Technical Relations, presented four educational workshops. These included: Introduction to HACCP; Preparing Your Bottled Water Facility for Inspection; Bottled Water Challenges & Opportunities; and Mold and Algae. Bob provided updated information about how to apply HACCP to a bottled water facility, guidance in preparing for an FDA inspection by reviewing the preparatory steps including some insights into what FDA inspectors look for when coming into a bottled water facility. He also provided some new information on emerging technical and regulatory issues for 2011 BPA, which is a component of polycarbonate 3- and 5-gallon bottles, and the newly adopted Food Safety Modernization Act and how it will affect bottlers. These technical and educational workshops provided a wealth of information and education along with a number of continuing education credits.
On behalf of the Southeastern Bottled Water Association (SEBWA) and the Mid-America Bottled Water Association (MABWA), a huge thank you to the presenters for providing a top level and value-added and educational program, and to the attendees for making the conference such a big success. A great big thank you goes to the 2011 sponsors including DS Waters of America, Inc. and Clovis Bottlers, Inc., as without their generous support, the event would not have been possible.