Water Online Radio: Severn Trent Services Talks Global Water Solutions
Nadia Abboud, marketing manager for Severn Trent Services, sat down with Water Online Radio for this live interview from the show floor at WEFTEC 2011 in Los Angeles. Topics ranged from Severn's new product offerings to the global economy and the shared challenges and efforts of the water community. Listen or read on to learn more.
Todd Schnick: We're back, broadcasting live from the Los Angeles Convention Center and the tradeshow floor of WEFTEC. I am Todd Schnick, joined by my co-host Todd Youngblood. Todd, you know how baseball teams have closers to wrap-up a ball game?
Todd Youngblood: I think we've got a good closer coming up.
Todd Schnick: We've got a closer to wrap the morning session. I'm really excited about the…
Todd Youngblood: I think I'm going to need a break after this one, I can tell.
Todd Schnick: We're going to be in a lot of trouble, that I can tell you. We are joined by the Master of the Universe and marketing manager for Severn Trent, Nadia Abboud. Welcome to Water Online Radio.
Nadia: Thank you for having me Todd Squared.
Todd Schnick: Todd Squared. A quick shout-out to you, Nadia, because our connection last year, you're the ones that actually brought Water Online to our remote studio, so we're grateful for that connection.
Nadia: My pleasure. I knew when I saw two great things, that greatness could come out of it.
Todd Schnick: Outstanding. Well, we want to focus on Severn Trent, but I probably will ask you about Water Online in a little bit. Before we get into it, Nadia, why don't you just spend a minute and tell us a little bit about you and your background and what work you're doing at Severn Trent.
Nadia: Sure. I've been with Severn Trent a little over 10 years. We've been focusing, during that timeframe, on marketing our water treatment products. We are manufacturing water treatment technologies, wastewater treatment technologies for the municipal and industrial marketplaces.
Todd Schnick: What innovations are currently taking place at Severn Trent to address various industry trends?
Nadia: We have a few things going on right now, if we look at some of the global trends taking place in the marketplace. We have things related to water shortages and how we can reuse water and how we can disinfect water and makes things environmentally safe. So we have an innovation with our MicroDynamics UV disinfection technology, and also something new that's under development right now with Dow Water Process Technologies. It is a nitrate removal system.
Todd Schnick: Talk a little bit more about that UV disinfection technology.
Nadia: Oh, it would be my pleasure. We actually acquired a company not too long ago that uses microwaves to generate UV light. So when you think about the evolution of UV disinfection in our industry, there hasn't really been a lot of new ways of doing things in the past few years. We're talking microwaves. We're talking the same kind of microwave energy you have at your house when you put your Lean Pockets in there and you cook it up. It's the same type of microwave energy…
Todd Youngblood: There are no Lean Pockets…
Todd Schnick: Look at Youngblood. Does he eat Lean Pockets?
Todd Youngblood: There are no Lean Pockets at my house.
Nadia: Okay, then just the regular Hot Pockets, Hot Pockets!
Todd Schnick: Outstanding. Good product placement there.
Nadia: We're using microwave UV energy to ignite UV lights, the same kind of lights you see in some other systems, to disinfect water and wastewater.
Todd Schnick: Is that something that's supplied globally, or is that the kind of technology that's focused more in one part of the world or another?
Nadia: It's definitely applied globally. What you'll find, though, is that different regions of the world have different drivers. So are they economically stable, do they have the funding, do they have regulation driving their marketplace? Just look around here at WEFTEC. Pretty much all the technologies you're seeing here can be used anywhere that water or wastewater is used in a municipal or industrial process. It's just, are the other drivers there?
Todd Schnick: So it's more regulation and things like that that are driving where the technology is deployed.
Nadia: Well, let's be honest. We would always like to believe that people will do the right thing. You'll send that thank you note after you go to the party and all those things. But it's the same thing in the environmental industry. You would like to believe that people are going to do things for the greater good. Unfortunately, sometimes the regulation is what drives them to do it.
Todd Schnick: I also want to ask you about Severn Trent's new NitroCap, nitrate removal system. How does that compare to some traditional tools?
Nadia: What's interesting about the NitroCap is that the EPA estimates nitrate removal in drinking water as one of the most prevalent contaminants. Ion exchange has been what they would call the best available treatment technology. But when you look at traditional ion exchange systems, you have very high brine deposit from the system that is expensive to dispose of and really not the most environmentally friendly solution. It was looking at the marketplace and saying, we need a way to reuse the brine and have what's called a zero liquid discharge system, so nothing is coming out of the system. You're keeping — you're recycling it.
Todd Schnick: So, totally closed loop.
Nadia: Totally closed loop.
Todd Schnick: We've talked a lot about collaboration this morning with other guests. How are you working with other companies, other vendors, other knowledge sources in industry to bring these solutions to customers?
Nadia: I would definitely say that if you look around, it's a big industry, but we call it like being caught in a fish net. It's a big industry, but once you're in, you're in it. You see a lot of familiar faces. I think one of the best things is not just these conferences, but participating in some trade associations where you really — even though you're in a room with your competitors — you have the ability to just talk. You're not sharing secret information. There's privacy acts and things like that to make sure you're not doing it. Really, you get a sense of what's happening in the industry that way. I think that's the most important thing to do. Get involved.
Todd Schnick: Severn Trent is obviously exhibiting here. Tell me more about your WEFTEC strategy. Why are you here? Is it lead generation, launch a new product, market education, identifying new partners. What are your goals here?
Nadia: Actually, this year we have a couple because we have the NitroCap that we're showing in our booth, and also the MicroDynamics. We have what's called the new generation, that's come out for this system. While we haven't yet actually made one, we have a photo in the booth and we're able to talk with people because we'll be ready to start quoting that at the beginning of January. It's important for us to launch those two technologies. Then some of it is not so much the lead generation, but meeting with existing clients who are interested to talk about upcoming projects.
Todd Schnick: What impact has the economy had? It's hard to have any conversation without talking about economic ups and downs. There are more downs now than anything.
Nadia: Let's be honest. I think the facts are there in terms of the economy, but to me what's interesting, as a global organization, is looking at the global economy. There are really no barriers anymore to things. So when you see a market, let's say North America, probably being flat with a 1-2% growth, you have other areas of the world that are just increasing. It's being nimble as an organization to have the right structure set up in other parts of the world to counterbalance the ebbs and flows that are just natural to the economic cycle.
Todd Schnick: I would think it's a little easier in these days to take the technical knowledge that you have and spread that around. It's easy to move it from one place…
Nadia: It is. But then you run into the whole IP protection, which can be a little cumbersome in some parts of the world. Where the different views of IP as a public right, or IP as a private right. There are some strategies you have to put into place to protect yourself if you're going into other markets.
Todd Schnick: As I mentioned earlier in the show, you're the reason that we've connected with Water Online. You've been a client of Water Online for quite some time.
Nadia: Actually, Severn Trent was their first client.
Todd Schnick: Oh, I didn't realize that.
Todd Schnick: Well, that's cool.
Todd Youngblood: That's cool to know.
Todd Schnick: Tell us why you've been a client with them for so long? What value do they bring to you?
Nadia: They are easy to work with. I don't mean that in a sense of just their wonderful personalities. They get the marketplace, and they also get the fact that I'm busy as a client, so they do their best to help me help myself with the program that I have with them. Pat Gallagher is my account manager, and he is always in touch with me saying, "This is what's coming up. How can I help you do it? I know you're really busy." I just feel like he's a partner. He doesn't [just] work for Water Online — he's an extension of somebody in our company, and I think that's what you want when you work with an organization.
Todd Schnick: So that's high praise.
Nadia: Yeah. I love these guys.
Todd Schnick: Let's not tell Pat that Nadia said that.
Todd Youngblood: Oh, no. Absolutely not.
Nadia: It's technically live on the Internet right now.
Todd Youngblood: Absolutely.
Todd Schnick: Hey Nadia, I hate to say it, but we're out of time.
Nadia: No. Thank you, guys.
Todd Schnick: Before we let you go, share with the audience how they can learn more about Severn Trent and learn more about your work.
Nadia: Sure. You can go to www.severntrentservices.com. Or, if you're here at WEFTEC and listening to this wonderful radio interview with Todd Squared, stop by our booth. Thanks so much.
Todd Schnick: Nadia, it was a pleasure to see you. You look great. Thanks for joining us.
Nadia: Thank you, guys.
Todd Youngblood: Thanks, Nadia.