New Orbit Irrigation CCO Shares Thoughts on Water Conservation Efforts
|By Lauren Spiers Lawn & Landscape
Earlier this week, Orbit Irrigation CEO K.C. Ericksen announced the appointment of Stuart Eyring to the newly created position of Chief Conservation Officer. As the first position of its kind in the industry, Lawn & Landscape took the opportunity to learn more about Eyring who joined Orbit as executive vice president of marketing earlier this year and what the company's upcoming conservation goals will entail.
Lawn & Landscape (L&L): You just joined Orbit Irrigation earlier this year - this is a quick job change! Tell us about the new position. How was it created and why?
Stuart Eyring (SE): This is something the company has been focused on for a long time. When I came on as executive vice president of marketing, we began considering where our primary issues and opportunities were as a company and one main focus was on the use of Orbit products to manage water use. That's really fundamental to our business. Given that, it was natural to evolve the role to include conservation and the unique title. It's an industry first and that's consistent with our company focus of "Conservation through Innovation."
L&L: Since this is such a unique position, what have you outlined as your main goals?
SE: Our primary goal will be to participate and help drive the dialog around water conservation. This is really a shared role and an effort to get many different types of water users to participate. Orbit was fortunate enough to host the 2005 Utah Water Conservation Symposium in April and our intent here was really to provide leadership in terms of bringing people together. My expectation is that we'll have a lot of opportunities nationwide.
Water quality is definitely an aspect of what we'll be looking at, but the information we found during the symposium was fascinating. We had sent out some invitations and found that they spread like wildfire. The board that was assembled consisted of a variety of representatives from state water conservation districts and also included some nonprofit interests as well, such as the Utah rivers system. Beyond that, the audience included everyone from farm bureau representatives with interests on the agriculture side to organizations like the Sierra Club, which is much more interested in preservation of natural resources.
With all of these organizations, as well as interested parties around the green industry, we'll be looking at a range of issues goes all the way from preservation of the natural state of water to usage of industrial and agricultural applications. We're really participating more in the middle of that dialog where we're advocates for the green industry and the use of irrigation products to manage water, but we also have a foot in minimizing water usage and that side of the process. Water use is driven from both a consumer standpoint and a regulatory standpoint, and quite often end-users have a propensity to use water liberally until regulation steps in and creates a different situation. We want to increase awareness among consumers about conservation of water on their own, and also make them aware of the incentives and benefits of using the right types of technologies to help them achieve that.
As a company, we're looking to be proactive and we have a high retial and turf orientation in that regard, so we're working hard to provide solutions that the market wants. We can both help create consumer pull and, by listening to what the needs are from a regulatory standpoint, better understand what we can do to help me those goals.
L&L: What's driving the need for water conservation in recent years?
SE: Water is a renewable resource, but there's a rapidly increasing demand being placed on it. In terms of water usage, it's especially acute in states that already have low precipitation, but we also see it in states with high precipitation but rapid growth and development that's taxing on water as a resource. While it's renewable, in rapid growth areas the demands are increasing.
L&L: Do you and Orbit have plans to initiate any industrywide campaigns for water conservation? Will you be collaborating with other industry organizations in those efforts?
SE: As we get started, we're not necessarily looking into formally organizing and industry association for this effort. The Irrigation Association is doing a great job with their interest in the subject and we hope that will allow us to bring an additional level of information on the issues and opportunities for action. Without creating a campaign per e, we'll be able to participate in the industry education more proactively by bringing appropriate products and solutions to market.
Right now, I think irrigation product users are looking to have a heightened discussion on water conservation solutions themselves. With the advent of evapotranspriation or "ET" technologies, there are a number of approaches to regulated water use out there. Irrigation can be monitored from the Internet or on-site using everything from sun and rainfall measurements to looking at factors such as root depth, slope, microclimates and more. Different technologies are effective in different areas of the country and even in different types of landscape areas. We're looking to drive some discussion around which of those technologies make the most sense. From a traditional perspective, tehre's a one-size-fits-all mentality and that's the direction the industry tends to follow. But this is a complex subject and we need to make sure contractors use the right solution for the right area. A combination of technologies may provide the best solution.
As a company, we're keenly aware of all this so you'll see us specifically addressing the topic in a multifaceted way in terms of products and there will be a lot of discussion with turf distributors and contractors on the subject as awareness increases among end users. The industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated and as a company we're looking forward to taking a leadership position form a product and education standpoint to engender a true dialog about the issues.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2005