Water Online Radio: Iron And Manganese Meets Its Match
Archie MacDonald of Pureflow Filtration sheds light on water contaminants, the importance of operator training, and how his company has positioned itself to serve a range of applications.
Todd Schnick: We are coming to you live from Dallas, Texas. This is day four of AWWA ACE 2012 and Water Online Radio. I’m your host, Todd Schnick, joined by my colleague, Todd Youngblood. Todd, I can’t believe it but we are almost at the end of this great show.
Todd Youngblood: The show is winding down but you would never know it by the crowd.
Todd Schnick: Let’s welcome our next guest. His name is Archie MacDonald. He is the National Sales Manager with Pureflow Filtration. Welcome, Archie.
Archie: Welcome to you guys as well.
Todd Schnick: It is great to have you, Archie. Before we get into it, take a second to tell us about you and your background.
Archie: I have been in the water and wastewater treatment business since about 1979. I started with a small business up in Canada and my snow shovel wore out. I needed to find a place where I could ski and not own a snow shovel, so I moved to California.
I got involved in water treatment manufacturing. We have water equipment from coast to coast in the U.S. and coast to coast in Canada, with a few jobs in Mexico and maybe one in Peru.
Todd Schnick: Archie, we want to hear all about Pureflow Filtration. Tell us what you do and how you help and serve your market.
Archie: We are a small company of pressure filters and our main industry that we are working in is removing the iron and manganese from drinking water. That leads to some of the other metals in drinking water such as arsenic, fluoride, nitrates… but the bulk of our business is still in iron/manganese.
If you are getting iron/manganese, you can also get arsenic. Arsenic isn’t a good bedfellow with iron, so it’s an easy treatment process.
We tend to stay in the industry, such as small municipalities. The largest we have for municipalities is 22 million gallons per day. The smallest system is 3 gallons per minute, which is about the rate of your shower. Somewhere out there we will fit with somebody, size-wise.
Our main item that we have to offer is that we provide a high level of equipment manufacturing. The level of our manufactured equipment is similar to an engineer running a very tight spec that we like to shoot for and then help the customer keep it running so that we have a good reputation in the industry with regard to follow-up quality, as well as quality equipment.
Todd Youngblood: What other problems do you solve for customers? Obviously you are removing the manganese and the iron that you mentioned. Are the other issues that your equipment services help address?
Archie: I would say that the issue that is missed is in training the operator so that you can provide good equipment. If it isn’t operated properly, then it is not going to do the job.
I would say that follow-up training is something that we have as an item that we would like to see recognized by the industry – not just one training session, but we have several training sessions with the owners and operators which tend to keep our equipment working better.
I think that often training is neglected. For instance, if you give someone a training course and 20 days or 3 weeks later they probably forget 80% of what you told them.
Now let’s say that they go on to train the next operator and he only remembers 20% of what he was told, you can see that two operators down you know nothing. Therefore training is a really important part. We work hard to see that people understand the operation of our equipment.
Todd Schnick: Let’s shift focus for a second. Let’s go up to 10,000 feet. Let’s observe the water industry as a whole. What do you see as the trends coming down the pike in the next 3 to 5 years?
Archie: Politicians like to get elected, so in order to do so they seem to say they are going to save the lives of the nation by making the water cleaner, therefore regulations keep tightening up. I think tighter regulations for existing water and new regulations for the elements in the water that are at the moment uncontrolled.
Todd Schnick: Archie, some of the filtration systems that you are selling are pretty darn complex or technically advanced. The water utilities are a little bit reluctant to adopt a new technology, and there is such a long life cycle, and they’re a little averse to risk. How do you deal with those issues?
Archie: Do you mean the resistance to change factor?
Todd Schnick: Exactly that.
Archie: That is a tough one. I think that pilot work, demonstrating the processes in the equipment is necessary and you just have to keep hammering away.
I often see that crossing boundaries between industrial and municipal; the same equipment can be used in industrial, but they weren’t accepted in municipal because they said that this is a municipal application. They seem to forget that it is water. If it will flow through something industrial, it should flow through something municipal.
Todd Schnick: Talk a little bit more about pilots. What do you do for pilots?
Archie: Pilot study is taking a small filter – let’s say that you have a one million gallon a day system, but instead you are going to treat one gallon per minute with a plug off the media that you would have in the big filter and just operate on their water with the chemicals that you are going to be using to do the treatment and try to determine how well it works, what changes you have to make. And it is easier to do it on a small scale than a large scale. That is a pilot system.
Todd Schnick: Archie, Pureflow is exhibiting here at ACE12. How has the show going for you? What were your goals and objectives coming in to ACE12?
Archie: The goals and objectives were to try to find more customers, and to get your face in front of them, so that part works. The show we found was really busy on Monday. Yesterday it dropped off a little bit, but the people who were visiting with us on Monday were probably on the other side of the exhibition center yesterday. Overall we had a lot of good contacts and meetings.
Todd Schnick: A little bird told me, Archie, that water utilities, your primary customer base, are interested in money. Tight money, in a tight economy, what type of financial impact can your filtration systems have?
Archie: Everybody needs to breath and the air is free. The water is going to cost some money. Water is the second most important element to life, and then work down the chain to food. I think that every water industry seems to say that they have no money, but yet everybody has to buy their water. I find it interesting that people pay $100 a month for 800 channels on television and watch 3 of them, but they don’t want to pay $35.00 a month for the staff of life – water.
I think the water utilities need to charge for what they are really selling, so that they can be in a position to afford to provide the quality of water that they should be selling.
Todd Schnick: That is an interesting comparison. Archie, I hate to say it but we are out of time. Before we let you go, how can people get in touch with you and how can they learn about the good works at Pureflow Filtration?
Archie: Today, everybody seems to have the Internet and the best way is probably to look us up online under Pureflow in a Google search or www.pfdiv.com
Todd Schnick: Archie MacDonald, National Sales Manager with Pureflow Filtration. It was great to have you. Thank you so much for joining us.
Archie: Thank you, Todd squared.
Todd Schnick: That wraps this segment. On behalf of our guest Archie MacDonald, my co-host Todd Youngblood, and all of us at Water Online, I am Todd Schnick and we will be right back with our final guest.