Tim Shoemaker of Waterman explains the value of cast iron gates and water conservation in an era of infrastructure rehabilitation and water scarcity.
Todd Schnick: Coming to you live, from Dallas, Texas. This is day two of AWWA ACE 2012 and Water Online Radio. I’m your host, Todd Schnick, joined by my colleague, Todd Youngblood. Todd, we’re beginning the home stretch on day two.
Todd Youngblood: I’ll tell you, I hope we get a little more time to walk around some, too. Some of the exhibits around here are way cool.
Todd Schnick: There’s some cool stuff to see, but I’m really looking forward to this next conversation. I want to welcome to the show Tim Shoemaker, who’s the Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Waterman Industries. Welcome to the show, Tim.
Tim: Thank you.
Todd Schnick: It’s great to have you. Before we get into a conversation, Tim, do take a second and just tell us a little bit about you and your background.
Tim: I’m the relatively new Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Waterman. I spent thirty years in the electric utility industry, and came onboard.
This company is a hundred-year-old company, and it’s gone through a new management group change. I’m part of that, and I’m excited to be part of that. I’m learning a lot, like you’re probably seeing. You come to one of these shows, and you see all kinds of neat things that go into the water groups, and we’re glad to be a part of it.
Todd Schnick: Take a second and tell us about some of the products and services you offer to your market, out of Waterman Industries.
Tim: Waterman is essentially a company, as I said, we’re a hundred years old this year, and we’re celebrating our 100-year anniversary. We’re an Exeter, California manufacturer, and we grew up as a company in the water industry, through the California aqueduct system. W.A. Waterman in 1912 decided that the farmers needed to be able to control the water flow in the California aqueduct, to water their fields.
He started this company, and we started making valves and gates that go into the channels. In 1957, he started to see this municipal wastewater and water treatment program starting to evolve, and having already experienced manufacturing gates, and having our own foundry that we could do iron gates, we started making sluice gates for the municipal waterworks industry.
Our company is divided into two sections. On the one side of the house we call the Ag industry, and that’s the industry that really makes more the irrigation channel products. The other side, we call Engineered Products. That’s the product that specifically fits to this municipal industry. We make all sizes, from six inch to twelve foot, giant sluice gates that go into the water treatment plants.
We make them in both a cast iron – we fabricate them in both stainless steel and aluminum, depending on the application. One of the things is that, with the products on the sluice gate side, we can design them to be radial, to slide down, we can have them straight up opening, we can have them downward opening. We have a variety of different seats that we can use to seal.
One of the things that I want to talk about today is we are proud that we are now introducing a patented Guardian sealing system. This sealing system takes us to less than half of the AWWA C561 leakage rates. It’s phenomenal. It’s something that’s going to revolutionize how you seal a giant gate.
Todd Schnick: Yes, Tim, talk about the flipside. We’re going through a bunch of your products, which is really fascinating to me. Talk a little bit about the problems that they’re solving, the issues that they’re addressing for your customers.
Tim: The biggest one, obviously, as I mentioned, was the leakage issue, but the wastewater treatment plants, more than anything, are the ones that experience degradation of the gates that need to open and close when you’re processing wastewater. One of the things that we do that many competitors don’t is that we make them in cast iron.
Cast iron tends – like you see in many of these valves here at this show – cast iron holds up real strong over time. It has proven itself to have longevity. Where saltwater will degrade aluminum; stainless steel tends to corrode under sunshine more – like in situations where the UV rays are hitting it constantly – cast iron, for all intents and purposes, in my opinion, is around forever, because it is just so strong.
Todd Schnick: Tim, we understand that Waterman has a bit of a history with ACE. Tell us a little bit about that, and what your agenda is at ACE 2012.
Tim: We have been a participant in the AWWA program along as it’s been running. As I said, we’re a hundred-year-old company, and we saw, right from the beginning of the AWWA program, that value for us to be here at shows like this. This show in particular, this day two of 2012, is a continuance of a theme that we set, as we’ve been integrating new products.
It’s allowed us to bring, I am going to say, 75 percent of our reps from across America and Canada are attending this show. It’s given us a platform that we can discuss new products with them, and explain how we’re improving our products, what we’re doing.
We’ve got a whole new field service program that we’re committed to the customer, to make sure that if anything goes wrong in the field, we’ve got the right technical reps there to go support the product.
Todd Schnick: Tim, from the perspective of a customer, how could I – assuming I’m a customer – use your products and services and expertise to improve my financial performance?
Tim: Going back, as I said, that touches on that customer service point, that if you’ve got a good quality gate, you’ve got what we’ve got with that extensive sealing system that prevents leakage. That leakage system is where you’re going to get the value added. You don’t want to be losing water. You want to be holding water with a gate.
That’s the point of it. It’s to try and stop it, and so we’re trying to come up with and are designing new systems that are specifically after that value-added portion of it, that we can not only build a better product, but we can also support the better product.
Todd Schnick: Let’s go up to 10,000 feet and look down on the water industry. What exciting trends do you see coming down the pike in the next three to five years?
Tim: The continuance of infrastructure rebuild is important for this industry. A lot of the treatment plants in some of the older cities in America, we had a situation last year, for example, in Washington, D.C., 144 Waterman gates from the 1930s, in an underground system, all finally decaying, and you put it out to bid. Now, here’s the kicker. I can’t stress this enough about cast iron.
They put it out to bid, and an offshore manufacturer undercut our bid. When they went down and the contractor started, Ulliman Schutte, out of Washington, when they started looking at it and they shut the water off, the castings themselves were not degraded. Now, we’re just doing replacement parts. You want to talk about cost savings and value added, that’s huge, exactly.
To answer your question, you’re going to continue to see two things. One, the development of UV is going to continue to be a main factor. I live in California, and we’re not going to continue to be able to support a population of California and the farmers in California, simply off of the Colorado River, or the American River.
We make level control gates. Level control gates go into a UV plant that control the canals that flow the water through, into the UV system. We see that as a growth opportunity for us.
The water treatment plants overall, and wastewater treatment, the technology has gotten better, and I think we anticipate seeing that the replacement of the old treatment plants to the more modern, with all of the new valving, with all of the new systems that they’re putting in, particularly with electronics.
You go in an old wastewater treatment plant, and you look at the old pumping systems, and it’s simply plug and play. You go into the new ones, and it’s totally SCADA system. It’s computer designed, that they can control it from some office, and that’s where the changes in the business is going to go.
It’s going to continue to head in that direction, that technology is going to lead. We’re excited about it. We think it’s got great growth potential.
Todd Schnick: Outstanding. Tim, we’re out of time. Before I let you go, how can people get in touch with you, and where can they learn more about the good work at Waterman Industries?
Tim: Take a look at our brand new website, www.WatermanUSA.com. After this many years, we’ve finally freshened up for our 100 anniversary, a whole new logo, a whole new look, using blue, where we used to use black and red.
Todd Schnick: You replaced that 1912 website.
Tim: We took the 1912 look and gave it a little bit of a spruce up, that and contractsales@WatermanUSA.com, send any bid opportunities, and they can call me, easily. I’m at (951) 821-0021.
Todd Schnick: Alright. Tim Shoemaker, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Waterman Industries, it was great to have you. Thanks so much for joining us.
Tim: Thanks, guys.
Todd Schnick: That wraps up this segment, on behalf of our guest, Tim Shoemaker, my cohost, Todd Youngblood, all of us at Water Online. I’m Todd Schnick, and we’ll be right back with our next guest.