Andrew Glover, president of Real Tech, sat down with Water Online Radio for this live interview from the show floor at WEFTEC 2011 in Los Angeles. Glover talked about the expansion of Real Tech, its line of analytical instruments, and its range of applications. Listen to learn more.
Todd Schnick: And 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, we are halfway through hour six, having a great time.
Todd Youngblood: Halfway through hour six?
Todd Schnick: Hour six.
Todd Youngblood: There is no way we have been here that long. This day has just flown by.
Todd Schnick: Hour six. That is outstanding.
Todd Youngblood: Unbelievable.
Todd Schnick: Well, it’s going to get better, because we have a really exciting guest coming up next. He is the president of Real Tech, Andrew Glover. Welcome to Water Online Radio.
Andrew Glover: Thanks for having me.
Todd Schnick: It is great to have you. Thanks for joining us. Before we get into a conversation, Andrew, why don't you take a few seconds and just walk us through a little about you, your background, and tell us about Real Tech.
Andrew Glover: Several years ago I started up Real Tech as a company to measure organics in water for several different applications in the water and wastewater industry, and we have instruments that do portable testing, grab samples…we have instruments that do continuous online monitoring. We have instruments now, this year, we’re introducing a new spectrum analyzer product to do multiple wavelengths, full spectrum analysis.
Todd Schnick: Andrew, when I was your age, I got up one day and thought, “I, too, ought to start a company that deals with organics.” Tell me more about your background. What led you to actually formulate this company?
Andrew Glover: Basically, I was an engineer, so I have a technical background. I worked in few different industries. I was working in the audio industry, making chips. I also had a background in water as well, and basically there was a need for an instrument that would test organics.
The first application was UV disinfection, and so that’s where we all started – UV disinfection was the first. It was not supposed to be a big company or anything, just turned out that there is a lot more application than we originally realized.
Todd Schnick: Talk about the timing a little bit. Was it something that you had planned for a long time, to start your own company, or an opportunity just presented itself?
Andrew Glover: No, it’s not that. As I said, I had experience in the water industry. My father-in-law still owns a company in the water industry and his company made UV disinfection systems, and so the first application for this device was actually for monitoring organics for that application.
I thought that that would be and application, but not to the extent that it has taken off, especially with the online monitoring. And then also, now we are getting into so many other applications in organics, regulation, effluent monitoring in wastewater, distribution system monitoring for security, and a whole host of industrial applications. It is quite varied where you can go with this type of instrumentation.
Todd Schnick: Andrew, take a second and tell us what you see as the emerging trends and issues in the water/wastewater industry going into 2012?
Todd Youngblood: It’s certainly becoming a lot more…we’re starting to see a lot more different variety of sensors. We are starting to see a lot of sensors that have multiparameters associated with them, some multiple electrodes in one probe, for instance. We are seeing a lot of spectrum analysis instruments, which allow multiple parameters to be monitored from one spectrum analysis piece of equipment, which is what we do.
So being able to monitor nitrates and organics and deal with turbidity and a host of the other potential parameters that we can monitor, just looking at different wavelengths, basically.
Todd Schnick: Andrew, I know you’re an engineer, so the technology is in your blood. As you look at things like the economy and government regulations, how large do they loom as you look at trends?
Andrew Glover: There are always…budgets vary, of course. But there is something about water quality that transcends that. You need to have good drinking water. You need to take care of the environment, and those should be – and are becoming more and more – priorities. The budgets can fall where it will, but these are certainly becoming more and more important as we go on.
Todd Schnick: Describe for us, Andrew, what your target customer is. Who are you selling to?
Andrew Glover: That’s the thing. Like I said, we started just with UV disinfection applications, but it spread from there far and wide and we have many industrial applications – food processing, refineries. We have wastewater municipal, we have water, we have distribution systems, we have semiconductor companies. We have such a wide variety…dairies, chicken farms…just so many different applications. It is surprising how many people need water. I mean, water is the most important component of manufacturing in the world. There isn’t a more required component than water.
Todd Schnick: Andrew, as you talk about all those different industries, I know I personally get easily distracted and every time I get into a new industry, I find myself just tremendously distracted by the new things to look and new things to learn. How do you maintain your focus?
Andrew Glover: It’s tricky. You can’t learn everything about everything, obviously. But we have built up a large array of distributors – regional, and also by application/vertical market, and so we have the arms provided us with that.
We have sales in 30 countries or more and counting. It is quite different from maybe the way it was 25 years ago. Nowadays, a smaller company can actually compete with, traditionally, a big company industry.
Todd Schnick: How are you doing that?
Andrew Glover: Like I said, with distributors you can reach around the world, and also just because of the Internet. People are able to access your information online. If you have the information and you have the products, people will find them fairly easily as compared to 25 years ago, when they basically just had to accept whatever they were offered by their local rep.
Todd Schnick: I always like to make a distinction between information and knowledge. You’ve used the term information several times and I just want to clarify. I have a feeling that you are really talking about technical knowledge and how to apply this technology in different functions.
Andrew Glover: Yeah, it is an issue trying to transfer that knowledge to the potential customer. That’s why we are here today at WEFTEC. We have to get people to understand what they can do with these new instruments that are available. It just takes some time, but I will tell you it takes a lot less time than it used to, given all these different technologies that we have to broadcast this information.
Todd Schnick: Yeah, you are exhibiting here at WEFTEC. Is market education the principle reason you are here?
Andrew Glover: There are people that could potentially buy instruments, buy products at the show. It is also largely about technical sessions, and the people that go to the technical sessions often come around and they are often interested in the actual products. But there are also lot of people here that we know already that are exhibitors…we have large companies. A large show like this will attract people from around the world.
So it’s a show, a place, where we can meet distributors and other people that, otherwise, it would be difficult to get everybody to come to our location. We can all meet, and we can also see a lot of different companies at the same time.
Todd Schnick: You talked about spreading around information and knowledge using all the Internet-based technologies. Are you using it for collaboration as well, or do you depend more on your distributors for that?
Andrew Glover: It really depends. With us, we have a lot of different applications, and so it really depends. Often we are working with the end user on some special application and at other times we’re working trying to train a distributor on a very simple application, perhaps like UV disinfection – something more obvious.
But it really depends. Sometimes we might actually have to fly to a place and talk to them and shake their hand, and other times it’s not necessary, they already understand it. So it really is very varied for us.
Todd Schnick: What does the next three to five years look like for Real Tech?
Andrew Glover: Well, like I said, we just introduced a new product line for full spectrum analysis. So in the past we have done UV254 instrumentation and that’s very important. But, beyond that, if you are looking to account for some interferences that may be present in the water, or if you are looking to look at other parameters beyond organics, you need to look at more wavelengths, and look at the full spectrum. That allows us to do chemometric analysis to compensate for those interferences, and it just allows us to get into a lot more application. I think that we’re going to be focused on implementing that technology and that product line in as many areas as they’ll seem to fit.
Todd Schnick: I hate to say, Andrew, but we are about out of time. Before we let you go, please share with the audience how they can contact Real Tech and learn more about the work that you are doing.
Andrew Glover: Sure. They can come to www.realtech.ca. That is r-e-a-l-t-e-c-h.ca.
Todd Schnick: Andrew Glover, president of Real Tech. It was a pleasure having you. Thanks for joining us today.
Andrew Glover: Thank you.
Todd Youngblood: Thanks, Andrew.
Todd Schnick: Okay. That wraps this segment up. On behalf of Todd Youngblood, I am Todd Schnick. Water Online Radio will be right back.