The Water and Sewer Distributors of America
Representing the waterworks industry
Business View Magazine interviews Kevin King, President of WASDA, as part of our focus on the water and wastewater industries.
The Water and Sewer Distributors of America (WASDA) was founded in 1979 by 14 companies to provide support and resources for the American water infrastructure and wastewater industries. Today, WASDA is made up of about 145 water and sewer companies engaged in the distribution, warehousing, and manufacturing of waterworks. Its mission is to strengthen and promote the distribution of water and wastewater products and services by:
- Educating and informing the public and municipalities about waterworks
- Providing resources for industry members via seminars, workshops, and industry-related materials, such as e-newsletters, and the association’s website
- Being the voice of the water and wastewater industry in regard to legislative and industry issues
- Providing programs and services to recruit and retain industry members
WASDA has three tiers of membership: Distributor members are companies with offices located in North America, which has a significant part of their business engaged in the warehousing, distribution, and selling of waterworks, or sewer and storm drainage pipes, valves, meters, accessories, and fittings to installers and end users of these products. An Associate member is a manufacturing business with offices located in North America, which has a significant part of their business in the manufacturing of waterworks, sewer, or storm drainpipes, valves, meters, fittings, and accessories for sale through distribution. Emeritus members are individuals who were formerly employed by businesses that were either Distributor or Associate members, and who have made a significant contribution to that business. Members of AWWA and NUCA are Affiliate Members of WASDA.
Kevin King, WASDA’s current volunteer President, touts the many benefits of membership: “Our members can receive increased exposure for their business,” he begins. “We provide a tremendous amount of industry access and influence in government decisions with one voice representing all the water and sewer distributors; we provide up-to-date information and keep folks informed about the latest trends and developments; and the key benefit for companies, when we have our annual fall meeting with speakers and roundtable meetings, is the networking. Being a part of WASDA, you gain access to the key players and decision makers in the waterworks industry – you know what’s going on in the rest of the marketplace. You almost cannot be in the water and sewer business without being a member of WASDA.”
King isn’t WASDA’s only volunteer; in fact, all of its Board of Directors, officers, and committee members volunteer their time and expertise to help grow the organization so that it can continue to be a viable resource for its members. “From a management perspective, we use CM Services out of Chicago, an Association Management Company,” King notes. “They do the heavy lifting; they handle our financials and administrative activities. They plan our meetings and events and most importantly they help us identify and implement new and innovative programs to benefit our members. On the WASDA side, it’s volunteers who are nominated, vetted, and voted on to fill positions. They are professionals in the industry who are volunteering their time to give back to the industry.”
WASDA’s volunteer committee roster includes the following:
- Associate Member Committee – advises WASDA on networking between Associate and Distributor members
- Audit Committee – oversees the overall financial health of the organization
- Education Committee – enhances the ability of members to have access to training tools
- Future Leaders Council – provides industry-specific education and networking opportunities to emerging company leaders
- Industry Relations Committee – monitors and communicates to members current legislation and funding information
- Industry Marketing Committee – creates a strong image for the industry to enhance WASDA’s marketing position
- Leadership Committee – provides nominees for Board of Director positions
- Membership Committee – encourages eligible companies to join WASDA
- Program Development Committee – develops programs that provide educational and informational opportunities to the membership
As the coordinated voice of the industry, WASDA has helped solve some important dilemmas affecting both the industry and the public at large. For example, when the federal government passed legislation banning the use of lead in water pipes, WASDA coordinated efforts among manufacturers, distributors, and municipalities that all had significant amounts of inventory that still contained lead. “We put together a program and negotiated timelines to deplete the old inventory and move forward with the new, unleaded material,” King explains. “Lead is a very malleable substance and when taken out, the material is very brittle. So, there was a learning curve and the manufacturers had to work through that exercise.”
Currently, WASDA is working on several other important issues. “During the last recession, less than 40 percent of the skilled workforce returned to the trade,” King shares. “So, we are working with the Congress for support for vocational training in high schools. Not every student is going to be a college graduate; some need a trade to fall back on so they can be a productive member of society. Also, we’re working with our Senators and Congressmen on infrastructure. A lot of times when you say infrastructure spending, it means roads and bridges. But under those roads and bridges are some very large water and sewer transmission lines that could be in excess of a hundred years old. So, if you spend millions of dollars on roads and bridges, and you’re coming upon hundred-year-old infrastructure that continues to fail at a very rapid pace, those dollars are wasted and will have to be re-spent to tear up those roads and bridges again to replace sub-surface drainage and water transmission lines.
“We’re working to get that message out to our government. We partner with NUCA (National Utility Contractors Association), and every year, we go for a summit on the Hill. We pair up with utility contractors and several of our members, and we talk to our Senators and Congressmen about these things – what we’re seeing, what we’re needing, what the bottlenecks are. We’ve had several Senators reaching back out to us and asking us, as an organization, to help them understand, so when they start putting bills together, they’re covering all the aspects that need to be covered and doing the right things for the right reasons during the first go-round.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, WASDA has had to cancel its 2020 Fall Meeting, which is tentatively being rescheduled for Nov. 7-11 in St. Louis, MO. However, the organization is planning its first ever virtual event – WASDA Connect 2020 – so that its members can continue to stay in touch with their industry peers. The confirmed date for WASDA Connect 2020 is Nov. 18th.
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AT A GLANCE
The Water and Sewer Distributors of America
WHAT: A trade association for the water infrastructure and wastewater industries
WHERE: Glen Ellyn, IL