Water treatment and the resulting water quality it does—or does not—provide are issues at the very heart of all aquatic facilities. The water is the essence, the lifeblood of places where people take the plunge. But there’s far more to it than simply managing the rigors of chemistry, hydraulics, filtration and control.
Water quality professionals also need to be sensitive to the human element.
In this context, I’m not so much talking about the experience of those using the water, per se (crucial though it may be), but rather the nature of working with the people who manage and maintain a given property. Quite simply, I’ve come to understand and appreciate that success in treating water also means building and managing relationships.
In this industry and elsewhere, I’ve seen how some companies take the opposite approach and use fear with impunity to sell whatever it is they do—everything from fighting bad breath to why you need your roof repaired. I’ve certainly seen that approach in various areas of the pool, spa and aquatics industries, especially where health and safety are concerned.
Rather than stress the risks of waterborne diseases and disinfection byproducts, I believe it’s far more effective to empower the dialogue with the whys and hows involved in making positive change.
I see water quality problems as opportunities to improve the aquatic experience, and not as sources of fear.
Because water is so integral to every type of aquatic facility, altering the treatment methods and site conditions can be an extremely intrusive process. There is the cost of corrective measures, the logistics of revamping systems, the permitting and approval processes and—always—overcoming reservations. It’s human nature to resist change, and there are almost always people involved who are vested in maintaining the status quo. To some, accepting change is equal to admitting failure and that can be a very hard reservation to overcome.
How the water quality professional navigates the tricky human currents can often have as much bearing on the success of a project as does the technology itself. That’s why I always approach all staff at aquatic facilities with a feeling of respect for their work and positions in a given organization. Even if the water quality itself is badly inferior, I’m only ever there to help, not to chastise, criticize or condemn.
See the Opportunity, Not the Fear, of Healthy Water
In many situations, I meet facility managers, property superintendents or maintenance personnel who’ve been working there for 20 or more years. These are the people who know where the proverbial skeletons are buried, the nuances and idiosyncrasies of the property and its history. They hold the church keys and as such can provide you the access you’ll need, or they can keep you on the outside looking in.
For that reason and many others, I always represent my potential role in improving water quality as one of collaboration and offering solutions. I’m an extension of their hand, only there to assist with my own set of skills and specialized knowledge. My work exists only to protect a company’s brand and their customers’ health, to help everyone involved come out ahead.
Working with aquatic facilities is almost always a long-term proposition. Because improving water quality can mean spending a lot of time and money as well as accepting change, simply securing the contract can take a long, long time. As professionals marketing our services, we must be patient.
There will always be challenges in forging the human connection, that’s a given, but it all starts by simply extending your hand.
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Meet Steve Kenny
Steve Kenny is an aquatic designer, builder, and service technician with more than 25 years of experience. Based in Long Island, New York, he specializes in designing, building, and maintaining commercial and residential pools and spas that feature the highest possible water quality.
He is a passionate advocate of creating a new class of aquatic professionals devoted to the science, methods, and art of ensuring pristine water conditions. Steve was formally trained in the culinary arts and has a passion for fine dining. He is an accomplished photographer and sailing enthusiast. He is also a passionate advocate of the benefits of hydrotherapy.
A devoted family man, Steve lives in East Hampton with his bride of 20 years and their three children.