Management InSites

Breaking Into the U.S. Water Sector: The Vast U.S.A.

Every industry has its unique opportunities and hurdles when entering the U.S. Here we take a quick “deep dive” into the water industry. While the information below is specifically geared towards those in the water sector, any industry that relies on water in its production process can also benefit.

When considering entry into the U.S. market, it is imperative to remember how vast the U.S. is. While the water in most areas of another country with a small geographic footprint might be similar to one another, that is not the case here. The water in Colorado, for example, may be different from that in North Carolina, which is different from that in Florida. This also applies to wastewater. Depending on the number of industrial users and location, the economics of certain technologies may be better or worse. Keep these factors in mind as you prepare to enter the market.

When in doubt, follow the demand. Below are some ideas that could help a team more concretely plan how to tackle the market:

Nonrevenue Water

Nonrevenue water, or water that is treated but is lost through inefficiencies, unfortunately makes up trillions of gallons of lost water in the U.S. A 2012 survey of utilities in the Great Lakes region found that, just through leaks, the utilities lose an estimated 66.5 billion gallons of water per year.[1] According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, there is a” desperate need for more investment to prevent water loss”, since the average system loses up to 16% of water (75% of which should be recoverable.) Those with technologies that can prevent water loss might have an advantage when approaching municipalities.

Old Infrastructure

With nearly 15,000 Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) that serve hundreds of millions of Americans, there are areas that are sorely in need of upgrades. As an example, Philadelphia has pipes that are upwards of 200 years old. The city also benefits from having a substantial population (resulting in ample tax dollars for funding). Such a combination might be optimal for an update to technology.

The investments being made in wastewater treatment are continually shifting to maintenance (from new construction projects.) “Life cycle costing should be embedded in capital budgeting, and programs for combined sewer overflow, sanitary sewer overflow, and stormwater management need to be permanent.”[2]

Looking for such scenarios around the country could be beneficial for entrepreneurs in the industry.

Water Diversity Within Homes

Since only about 20% of water piped into homes is used for drinking water (with the rest going to bathing, washing clothes, watering lawns, etc.)[3], offering technologies that reuse greywater (water from showers and sinks) or those that divert water intended for uses other than drinking might alleviate the burden to treat all water going into homes to the same high standard. This could result in major cost savings on the municipal level if successful.

The graph below from the US Conference of Mayors shows the increasing investment in water technology. The opportunity is there for the taking.

water investment

While the U.S. landscape is vast, finding possibilities within the water sector does not need to be daunting. Approaching the industry as a problem-solver, rather than an opportunity-seeker, could mean the difference between success and frustration.

[1] CNT, Water Loss Control in the Great Lakes States: A Utility Survey Report, 2012. Available at: http://www.cnt.org/sites/default/files/publications/CNT_WaterLossControl.pdf.

[2] U.S. EPA (1998) Cost Accounting and Budgeting for Improved Wastewater Treatment.

[3] https://bipartisanpolicy.org/download/?file=/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/BPC-Infrastructure-Understanding-Americas-Water-and-Wastewater-Challenges.pdf

Read more
  • The Changing World of 3PLs

    Third-party warehouses (3PLs) have historically provided companies with an invaluable service: the ability to store inventory and ship it out to customers around the globe. These warehouses are experts at packaging products to maximize order fulfillment.

    July 1, 2021
  • International Shipping and Incoterms

    When dealing with shipping internationally, especially from abroad to the U.S., setting the terms of the transaction from the moment the customer requests a quote is incredibly important. To avoid problems, unwanted costs, and even potential legal issues, there should be no room for confusion or ambiguity in the contract you set up with your customer.

    March 8, 2021
  • Shipping with HS and HTS Codes

    If your organization intends to ship or receive items to or from overseas, it is important to understand an integral part of the international shipping process: the Harmonized System (HS) and Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), which were developed by the World Customs Organization.

    February 8, 2021
  • The Right Content for Your Content Strategy

    In this post, we explore the type of content to consider posting across platforms for a strong content strategy. Content can come in many forms.

    January 27, 2021
How can we help you?
Contact us or submit a business inquiry online.
Read more
  • The Changing World of 3PLs

    Third-party warehouses (3PLs) have historically provided companies with an invaluable service: the ability to store inventory and ship it out to customers around the globe. These warehouses are experts at packaging products to maximize order fulfillment.

    July 1, 2021
  • International Shipping and Incoterms

    When dealing with shipping internationally, especially from abroad to the U.S., setting the terms of the transaction from the moment the customer requests a quote is incredibly important. To avoid problems, unwanted costs, and even potential legal issues, there should be no room for confusion or ambiguity in the contract you set up with your customer.

    March 8, 2021
  • Shipping with HS and HTS Codes

    If your organization intends to ship or receive items to or from overseas, it is important to understand an integral part of the international shipping process: the Harmonized System (HS) and Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), which were developed by the World Customs Organization.

    February 8, 2021
  • The Right Content for Your Content Strategy

    In this post, we explore the type of content to consider posting across platforms for a strong content strategy. Content can come in many forms.

    January 27, 2021
How can we help you?
Contact us or submit a business inquiry online.

Breaking Into the U.S. Water Sector: The Vast U.S.A.

In our previous post on the topic, we covered some important things to remember when setting up your company in the U.S. market. Beyond operations, sales, and marketing, a manager would be remiss not to focus on how cultural differences might impact the success of a subsidiary.

The U.S. is not homogenous

Unlike several other countries, the U.S. is vast – and not just in its size. Americans tend to break up the country into its East and West coasts, and the Midwest. But there are even more segments, like the South, Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, Florida, and Texas – all of which differ greatly from each other. There are several big cities, countless medium-sized markets, and even more rural or suburban areas. Interacting with people living in big cities will differ greatly from interacting with people in smaller towns. While it would be unwise to generalize, it is best to understand the culture of the part of the U.S. in which you are doing business before having expectations.

Patience is not always a strength among Americans

When in negotiations or conducting business, Americans tend to want to just get the deal done. While many other cultures take their time, get to know everyone involved, and move along at a comfortable pace, those in the U.S. do not always see a need to drag things out. Get ready for what looks like impatience, when in reality it is just a desire to be efficient and effective.

Don’t plan on in-person meetings 

At least not all the time. The tendency for Europeans and Asians to conduct most business in person is not the same in the U.S. Phone calls, emails, and now even video conference calls are the norm. Businesspeople like to work efficiently, and don’t gather in person unless it is necessary. First meetings, larger negotiations, and important topics are generally discussed in-person. Otherwise, don’t be offended or surprised if many of your interactions are taking place remotely.

Open-minded over traditions

A positive aspect of Americans in general is their ability to have an open mind. Many other cultures rely heavily on traditions, and act in certain ways because history dictates that they should. That is not the case in the U.S. Americans tend to welcome new ideas and concepts perhaps more freely than their foreign counterparts.

That being said, Europeans tend to rely on strongly forged bonds in which trust is paramount. Loyalty is key. Americans tend to be looser and more pragmatic when it comes to doing business. They don’t necessarily need to have known someone for years to begin working with them. At the end of the day, it’s about getting the deal done.