Water Online Radio: Testing Pioneers Look To Penetrate Water/Wastewater Market
Ian Leahy and Erin Post of Palintest talk about the history of the company, the testing capabilities they offer, and trends they see in water and wastewater.
Todd Schnick: And we're coming to you live from Dallas, Texas. This is day three of AWWA ACE 2012 and Water Online Radio. I'm your host Todd Schnick, joined by my colleague Todd Youngblood. Todd we had a good lunch, but I’m ready to get the afternoon going.
Todd Youngblood: I've had salad now three days in a row. I don't think I've ever done that before in my life.
Todd Schnick: Not really how I expect to be fed while I’m on set, but it’ll work.
Todd Youngblood: This is Texas, isn't it? I understand they have beef in this state.
Todd Schnick: And we had salad. Oh well. We have an exciting guest to kick off our afternoon segment. I want to welcome Ian Leahy, who's a Technical Marketing Manager with Palintest and Erin Post, Regional Sales Manager with Palintest. Welcome to the show, guys?
Ian: Thank you.
Erin: Thank you for having us.
Todd Schnick: It's our pleasure. Erin, let's start with you. Before we get underway, just take a second and tell us a little about you and your background.
Erin: I've recently joined Palintest. My background is in the aquatics industry. I'm really familiar with all of the aquatics testing and Palintest has been very well known and established in the States in the aquatics market. So we're looking to get into the water and wastewater industry, and that's why we're here today.
Todd Schnick: Outstanding. Ian, tell us a little about you and your background.
Ian: I'm a bit of a mongrel, a chemist and a marketer by background. Quite an interesting mix. I've been with Palintest for about four years now. This is my first trip to the AWWA show, and so far, so good.
Todd Youngblood: Ian, let's start with you. Tell us a little bit about the history of Palintest and what the organization is all about.
Ian: Sure. Essentially, the history of Palintest is focused around one guy, a guy called Dr. Tom Palin. He invented the test that everybody uses today for disinfection control of drinking water, or breakpoint chlorination, the so-called DPD test. Now this test, as I say, is used everywhere now. It was developed in 1943, and the countless millions of lives that have been saved since that day – it’s just phenomenal, really. Since then Palintest has grown from making that one first specific test to now looking at a wide range of water tests for drinking water, wastewater, aquatics, and so on.
Todd Youngblood: Erin, is there one particular instrument that really sets you guys apart?
Erin: When we're talking about this industry here, we've got some leading technology with our sensor technology. We've got some great easy-to-use tests that don't require any particular skill level. You get a great reading whether you're a lab scientist or you've got a field technician out in the field testing for chlorine dioxide, chlorite, chlorine, those types of tests.
Todd Schnick: Guys, we have this Drinking Water Act coming into fruition pretty soon that's going to make us remove some lead from the water system. How is Palintest going to be able to help the market with that situation?
Ian: We have a particular piece of equipment, which is actually quite popular in the U.S. already. What it allows even relatively unskilled users to do is to measure incredibly low levels of lead in drinking water in the field. It's actually over on our stand right now. And, as I say, it's a fairly common instrument that we have right now.
Todd Youngblood: What's the financial impact that this legislation going to be. Is that something that's going to hit the water utilities, consumers, all of the above, you guys? How do we deal with that and how are you helping customers deal with that potential issue?
Ian: Somebody is always going to pay the bill. That's the unfortunate fact of life. How the instrument helps essentially is by identifying what the key problems will be and making sure that you're not spending money on something where there is no issue, for example.
I'm not quite clear yet how the act is going to be implemented and who will eventually actually pick up the direct bill. But, certainly, it will be an assist towards the whole process of carrying out the mandate to the act.
Todd Youngblood: Erin and Ian, two-part question here: How is Palintest going to market? What is the strategy there? Then, subsequent to that, you're obviously here at ACE 2012, which is a huge marketing opportunity; how are you incorporating this into your overall market strategy?
Erin: Currently right now, like I said earlier, we are strong in the aquatics industry and we're really looking to get into this market in the U.S. We're really well-known worldwide in water and wastewater. We're trying to get there in the States, so that's why we're here this year. We're looking for distributors and manufacturer reps. If anybody is interested, they can stop by our booth, 1836.
Todd Schnick: 1836.
Todd Youngblood: Ian, I want to direct this question to you, since you’re the self-described mongrel chemist. Innovation is something that's really critical in the industry. The things are moving so quickly. There's environmental problems, there's regulations, there's cost issues. What kind of role is innovation playing in your go-to-market strategy?
Ian: We see innovation as absolutely key to our business. The history of the company really has always been around innovation. Dr. Palin developed the first field method for chlorination control.
And recently, say about five years ago, we came forward with the first step-forward since that original DPD technology was introduced. There are some other new innovations on our stand including the lead measurement system that we have right now too.
So certainly, for us as a business we can't afford to stand still because this market is not standing still. The regulations aren't standing still. And you can see a huge amount of interest now focused on things like pharmaceuticals and personal care products and those kinds of applications, which currently are not very well served by online or field instrumentation.
Todd Schnick: Ian, water analysis. What does Palintest see as a future in that?
Ian: Very good question. We see, for example, in some markets, because we are an international company worldwide, that the drive towards a centralized municipal supply system in developed markets is not happening.
They've decided to more focus on point-of-entry/point-of-use treatment for local use. That, then, moves the point of analysis to those areas. So we have a sort of move of focus, if you like, from centralized networks.
The other side, from the analytical point of view, is the increasing prevalence of what we might call biosensors, using sensitive bacterial-type sensors, often around luminescence-centered technology that will allow you to give you a relatively course indication of what's going on and then allow you to drill down further and actually look at specific chemical contaminants at that point.
Todd Youngblood: Erin, water utilities are, I'll say, infamous or notorious for being reluctant to adopt new technologies, new processes, new techniques. How are you getting your message across to an audience reluctant to move forward quickly?
Erin: We want everybody out there to know that Palintest has been around for a long time. We have, coming from Dr. Palin, just a great product line. We have several different platforms that are all very easy to use. They don't require high levels of skill. Anybody can use them and get a good accurate result time after time. We're trying to get that message out there to them.
Todd Schnick: Ian, let's go up to 10,000 feet, look down on the whole water industry as a whole, what do you guys see as the coming trends, the big things coming down the pike the next three to five years?
Ian: As I said, there's almost a break, if you like from the centralized market in some international arenas. You look at places like India and China and so on and they're just basically, the Indian infrastructure has not really moved on for a long time, so they're essentially moving away from centralized networks.
And you look at the developing world as well, we have a particular brand in our stable called Wagtech, who do a lot of focus on the developing world, international aid communities and so on.
What we see happening there essentially is, again, a more strong focus on treating the cause treatment that you can provide to start with, and then the final polishing just at the final point-of-use or the point-of-entry. That's really where we see it going in a lot of markets right now.
Todd Youngblood: Interesting. I hate to say it but we're out of time. Ian, let's start with you. How can people get in touch with you?
Ian: Essentially, if you go on to the homepage of www.palintest.com there is a Contact Us button on there. Please feel free to use that. Send an email through and that will essentially find its way to me direct.
Todd Schnick: How do people get in touch with you, Erin?
Erin: If they're here at ACE this week, they can stop by our booth at 1836 anytime this afternoon or tomorrow. Also, visit our website at www.palintest.com.
Todd Schnick: All right, Erin Post, a Regional Sales Manager, and Ian Leahy, a Technical Marketing Manager with Palintest. Guys, it is great to have you. Thanks so much for joining us.
Ian: Thank you, Todd.
Erin: Thank you.
Todd Schnick: All right, that wraps this segment. On behalf of our guests, Erin Post and Ian Leahy, my co-host Todd Youngblood, all of us at Water Online, I'm Todd Schnick. We'll be right back with our next guests.