Water Well Journal

January 2016

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/617280

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Page 35 of 67

I have been in this business for more than 42 years now. In fact, I have been in it for so long that in just another few years I may be able to finally call myself "experienced." Obviously, the attitude I have is somewhat of a split be- tween someone who has truly paid his dues or someone who appreciates what it really takes to know all the things you should know in this business and realizes he hasn't made it there yet. Every time I begin to think I really know my stuff, some- thing happens to bring me back down to earth. When these events happen, the fallout often forces me to relearn some- thing in order to better understand my shortcomings. One of these areas is in the realm of business management. So this month we will discuss a critical business topic within our industry, especially for those who are our salespeople or sales engineers. That topic is product or well/water system bias. Just What Is a Bias? Bias in the water well industry is basically a strong inclina- tion or preference to use a particular product or a method of well or water system construction. In many cases it means one drilling firm or driller may always prefer, recommend, or even insist on using a singular style of well construction—such as a perforated well or a well fitted with a screened and gravel-packed construction even if the local geology indicates otherwise. Another example of a drilling bias is a driller insisting they can drill any well by using a cable tool machine alone, where a rotary machine would be much more productive and faster. In cases on the pump side, I have observed a pump firm sizing and designing an entire water system around the wrong pump simply because they represent a single line of pumps and the actual best selection for the job doesn't exist. These are three obvious examples of bias in my mind even though some well drillers and water system designers may not agree. Don't all of us practice some form of bias to one degree or another? Think about it a minute. Who hasn't heard people car shopping refer to themselves as a Ford or Chevy man? How often do you overhear individ- uals express a preference for white bread or wheat bread, orange juice or apple juice, fish or steak? For sure, there are often health reasons for those preferences, but in many cases it is simply a matter of taste—and that's personal bias. There is nothing wrong with a taste or personal bias when it's your money buying the product. But what I'm asking now is this: Is a personal bias always or ever acceptable when it's someone else's money on the line? Bias in the Water Well Industry When I began at Ace Pump Sales in 1974, I was not a salesman or an engineer. In fact, I was the grunt. I was charged with loading the pipe and pump onto the hoist truck, making the splice on the pump motor, and then driving out to the site to install the entire assembly in somebody else's well. (I loved every minute of it by the way.) The selection of the well pump and related accessories was someone else's job, often my father's. The concept of any particular bias in the pump selection was foreign to me even though it was there. As many pump firms still do, we represented a single line of pumps, Aermo- tor. If the job couldn't get done with an Aermotor, we either substituted the closest pump we had or could get, or the cus- tomer went somewhere else to purchase his water system. Even as a grunt, this practice confused me as we often installed a pump that fell short on production or head, over- pumped the well, or worse yet, required a larger horsepower than the competition. This often led to using larger drop cable, higher power consumption—and far too often in the end, a dissatisfied customer. Much of this problem became evident when a new 10- home (and well) subdivision was being built in our area with almost identical well conditions. Unfortunately for us, our solitary pump line did not have a model that fit the well and water system conditions. The closest match we could offer was 1 HP while the competition touted they could do the job with a ¾ HP unit. Although we bragged about the straps holding the pump together and the sand-handling capabilities on the Aermotor, guess who got the job? Even though the smaller unit was un- dersized and marginal in reserve pressure, the developer was ED BUTTS, PE, CPI ENGINEERING YOUR BUSINESS IS BIAS A GOOD OR BAD THING? Whether it is drilling or pump products or even techniques, biases can impact water well systems. 34 January 2016 WWJ waterwelljournal.com It is incumbent on the system designer to carefully evaluate the pros and cons and make a clear and informed judgment as to which is best for their application.

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