Rick VanSant, President and CEO of UV Pure Technologies, explains some of the key trends currently shaping the water and wastewater market, including non-chemical disinfection, remote management, and urbanization.
The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Water Online Radio. Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.
Water Online Radio: Is there any particular market that is in UV Pure’s wheelhouse where the greatest value from your products comes from?
Rick: We call it the engineered solutions market, which really means municipal applications, industrial, commercial and the “MUSH” markets; the municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals and other small community regulated applications for both water and wastewater. We characterize our systems as small.
Water Online Radio: What do you mean by that?
Rick: For us, that is up to about one million gallons per day of treatment. To put that into context, Chicago Water District treats about 1.2 billion gallons per day. Clearly we are not here trying to sell systems to the city of Chicago, but to small communities of 10,000 and less in the developed markets and virtually all industrial and commercial applications.
In the lesser developed markets, a million gallons a day is a big number. It serves many more people.
Water Online Radio: How are key trends currently impacting or going to impact your business in the future?
Rick: In both the water and the wastewater space, one significant trend is the shift away from chemical treatment to non-chemical treatment. That’s pretty a global trend. It is not good to put chemicals in the water that could cause cancer and or are ineffective against treating certain pathogens. We are classed as a non-chemical disinfection technology. UV is among the most effective of non-chemical disinfection technologies. That trend works very well for us.
Another significant trend is the move away from hugely expensive and complex central plants that are fed or feed tens or hundreds of miles of pipe. The move is towards smaller, more remote applications that are closer to either where water is used or where wastewater is created. This also drives a move away from online, live human operators towards remote management of smaller systems. Small is good.
We serve maybe 85 percent of the market opportunity globally. Even though we only go up to one million gallons per day today, we have a vision of moving that to five million gallons a day within a year or so. We are also a smart technology, so we fit into a remote management infrastructure.
Water Online Radio: Rick, I want to dig down more on this trend that you just mentioned of moving from the big, centralized plants, to smaller, decentralized ones. Why is that happening? Is it just energy and moving things from point A to point B distance?
Rick: Much of the focus is on the very large plants and the technologies that serve the very large plants. Obviously, those are high numbers in the billions of dollars over the next number of years as developed countries improve and replace their aging water treatment infrastructure.
Even though urbanization is a big trend, much of the world is starting to segment its needs into different application types. For example, in Vermont, we are specified into the schools in Vermont that are rural in nature. They each have their own small treatment plant.
There is not much difference in the process between a small community application and a very large city application other than the fact that the technologies are smaller in nature. Therefore, they are less expensive, less complex and require less time management.
Water Online Radio: I understand that you have recently announced a major realignment of your wholesale distribution channels. I am curious to hear all about that.
Rick: It is in North America. The company is now in its 11th commercial year. Years ago, we started going to the residential marketplace by working with the 3M Corporation as a distribution partner.
They were really a distributor, and then they bought and resold our products to wholesalers that served dealers and plumbers and so forth. Here, we are talking about potable water treatment for the residential marketplace, rather than our main focus.
Over the years, we have added many direct wholesale relationships and key dealer relationships. We have found that in our market, having an extra layer of distribution just increased price and increased time to market. We are in a position today with more maturity than we had years ago. We can better serve our wholesale customers by being direct with them.
We have ended that relationship, and we are in the process of working to serve our wholesale base and key dealers directly. It lowers costs, improves service and lowers time to market…
Click on the Radio Player above to hear the full interview.