More than 250 exhibitors – including 36 new ones – spotlighted their products and services at the National Ground Water Association’s 2009 Ground Water Expo, which took place Dec. 10-13 in New Orleans at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the sixth largest convention facility in the nation.

The Expo offered more than 50 diverse educational offerings, including the new track for high-capacity pumps and wells, as well as sessions on geothermal technology. Both were well attended.

Among the final registration numbers this year were 890 contractors, 263 suppliers and 288 scientists and engineers. The number of scientists and engineers is better than the historical average for attendance at the Expo, while the number of contractor firms represented – 416 – was a substantial increase compared to the last two non-Las Vegas events.

There also were 807 registered manufacturers, not including all exhibit personnel. Companies showed their wares on nearly 53,000 square-feet of exhibit space. The total attendance was 2,372.

“Of course, like everyone else, we wish more could have made their way to the 2009 Expo and New Orleans, but we hear what the industry’s market is like, so we understand the smaller turnout,” notes NGWA executive director Kevin McCray. “In preparation, we treated New Orleans like any other city in which we conduct the NGWA Annual Meeting and Ground Water Expo. The quality of the program, particularly the continuing education events, was the equal to any other year, and, in some ways, better. Our new education efforts, such as the track for high-capacity pumps and wells, were very well received. In fact, the high-capacity interest group already is at work planning an expansive and more in-depth session for Las Vegas 2010.”

NGWA’s 2010 Ground Water Expo will take place Dec. 7-10 in Las Vegas. 

Make Well Development a Priority

The process of well development is critical to optimizing well performance, yet too often it is not given proper priority in the overall well construction, said the 2010 NGWREF McEllhiney Distinguished Lecturer Mike Mehmert in his inaugural lecture at the NGWA’s annual convention.

Well development is the procedure used to facilitate the removal of fine solids and materials from the water-bearing zone of a water well to optimize production. “This probably is one of the most important aspects of completing a well, but sometimes there’s relatively more attention paid to the materials used, the design and the drilling method. Some contractors think about how fast they can drill – because time is money – but if they leave the well owner with an inefficient product, it costs him a lot of money in the long run because of customer dissatisfaction,” he said.

While some contractors approach well development as one step, Mehmert said he views it as a process. “Start with a method, and when the water clears up, then go to a method that works it over better. Once you’ve gone through the toolkit of methods at your disposal and can’t extract anymore debris or damage or drill mud, then you’re probably there,” he said.

Business Basics Are Crucial

A key to weathering recessions for water well contracting and ground water consulting businesses is knowing and implementing basic business practices. Such practices range from simply knowing your fixed and variable expenses, and assets and liabilities, to accurate pricing of products and services, marketing, and finding ways to value a company’s most important asset – its employees.

“An important question is, ‘How much in sales are you going to make to cover your expenses and make a profit,’” says Roger Renner, MGWC, president of E.H. Renner and Sons Drilling Co., in Elk River, Minn. “Sometimes a better question is, ‘How much are you going to reduce expenses to make your profit?’”

At his NGWA convention business management presentation, Renner said that business owners should be aggressively proactive in getting on top of their financials, and constantly making adjustments where necessary. While most business owners would agree, significant opportunities to trim costs to increase profit are missed, he said.