It is my distinct pleasure to be sharing this “new” President’s Message with the SEBWA membership. The March Joint Convention with MABWA in New Orleans was an excellent opportunity to meet old and new industry friends, to socialize, and to share ideas that we can only pick up from other bottled water industry professionals. Our suppliers also mean so very much to each of our companies, and the opportunity to meet and greet them throughout the sessions was invaluable. Taking in the New Orleans nightlife and sights was also impressive.
With Ve Pauling, Area Manager for Crystal Springs in Mableton, GA, joining the SEBWA Board of Directors, our leadership has gotten stronger. Representatives on the Board include leaders from family-owned businesses, medium-sized bottlers, and companies with regional and national presence, in addition to supplier representatives. This diversity will be critical, as the bottled water industry is facing many challenges going forward, including proposed taxes, withdrawal fees, recycling, BPA, allowed contaminant/MCL issues, plant security, and industry consolidation, among other issues. Joe Doss, IBWA President, John Speed, head of the SEBWA Government Relations Committee, Breck Speed from Mountain Valley all shared insight on the political climate. Malone Garrett, Nantze Springs, and others again reminded us that our industry has a negative growth, and that we must be aggressive to reverse this trend! Going forward, it will be important for the bottled water industry for everyone involved – owners, General Managers, supervisors – to start to be politically active within their states. Letters, phone calls, presentations, and lobbying may all help.
The challenge of being active includes knowing what is happening in your state, county, and city, and doing something about it when adverse actions are proposed. We do not want Home and Office Delivery (HOD) to go the way of the milkman of years past.
The Joint Convention also provided an opportunity for individuals holding Certified Plant Operator (CPO) licenses to obtain 11 CEUs, more than half needed during the 3-year cycle for CPO renewal. IBWA’s Bob Hirst’s sessions were invaluable, and were made available because of the efforts of SEBWA and MABWA. The distribution plant visit and training offered by MABWA’s Kentwood Springs contingent (plus lunch) certainly was an incredible session.
Please invest your time in SEBWA and in your industry’s health going forward.