.I see a bright future for our industry ahead of us"

Jeroen Peters

WE's Chairman

September 17, 2011

Peters summarizes the main watercooler industry issues and concerns. An inside and positive look to the industry’s future.

"When I was elected Chairman I had a pretty good understanding of its role, but I have learned that in reality WE has even more to offer. It therefore surprises me how difficult it can be to get this message across."

A few days before the annual Trade Fair and Convention in Odessa, we had the opportunity to ask WE’s chairman, Jeroen Peters, how was his particular point of view about the Watercooler Industry after a year conducting EBWA’s —now WE’s— steps. The new communication strategy, what can members expect from next Trade Fair in Odessa, how WE welcomes new national associations from East Europe emergent markets… Through this interview, Peters summarizes the main watercooler industry issues and concerns.
An inside and positive look to the industry’s future: “I see a bright future for our industry ahead of us. We have the opportunity to address multiple social issues and we can contribute to solve these issues.”

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  • WE

    After the Annual General Meeting last April in Paris ‘WE’ started a new stage, with different name and logo. It was also announced the association was moving toward a stronger communication strategy, starting with a new website. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?

  • Jeroen Peters

    In 2010 we adopted a new name and in April  of  this year a new logo. This renewal of our visual identity is but one step in our ongoing journey towards a more open and dynamic organization that reflects changes in our structure and the marketplace, while adding value to membership.  Improved communication is a corner stone in our vision of the future, so that we can better serve our members as a key source of information and expertise.The new website is an important  communications tool,  enabling us not only to provide our members with relevant industry information in a more timely manner, but also to communicate with other stake holders about issues important to us.

  • WE

    About the new communication strategy, should we expect more changes in this area?

  • Jeroen Peters

    Yes. In Paris it was approved that WE can approach the members of the National Associations directly. This both permits and requires us to communicate faster and to share relevant news directly with members. We also want to be more proactive. We plan on launching a newsletter and to further develop two way communication with our members, to solicit feedback and ideas on how to further strengthen our role and improve our activities and services.

  • WE

    On that occasion you also stressed the importance of suppliers support in 2009, and how WE was planning to offer them different kind of advantages in return. What kind of advantages were you referring to?

  • Jeroen Peters

    We need our suppliers' support and cooperation in executing our vision.  Some suppliers have supported the industry and our association for years and they should have corresponding privileges within our organization. We are working on defining these and plan for example on providing them with more direct exposure to our members. We need to – and want  to – continue listening to them, encouraging direct feedback  to the management.

  • WE

    East European Watercooler Industry growth is well known.What policies has WE started in order to promote the creation of national associations in East Europe countries?

  • Jeroen Peters

    WE has decided that this is an area of strategic importance and therefore we are very pleased that in Paris WE welcomed the new Association of Armenia and in Odessa we will warmly welcome the new Hungarian association. The way WE works is that the Director General will visit the country and let the biggest local bottler or distributor invite all companies in the industry for a general meeting. During the meeting WE presents the benefits of having a National Association, and the role of  Watercoolers Europe on a European level. WE  subsequently supports any new association with the start-up procedures and processes and where need be, provides advise in how to implement industry standards.

  • WE

    During last year, which strategies had WE managed that could directly or indirectly benefit or preserve the interests of final clients?

  • Jeroen Peters

    We are working on industry standards for Point of Use coolers. By setting high standards and focus on consumer safety, we very much work for the interest of the end consumer. This is of course something we do continuously. If we identify a potential issue or opportunity, we research the topic and we provide information to our members that they can use to communicate with their clients. We also publish factual and reliable research on what drinking water does for you as consumer.

  • WE

    On another subject, we could recently read how Joe Doss, IBWA’s President and CEO was pleased to announce that the bottled Watercooler Industry  has increased recycling rates and energy saving policies… Has WE done any additional effort in order to preserve environment?

  • Jeroen Peters

    Many suppliers and distributors take very good initiatives and WE supports this and wants to give more visibility.

  • WE

    At present, WE comprises over 300 companies. In addition to high-quality training programs, how does the organization ensure that all of them adhere WE’s Code of Good Hygienic Practice?

  • Jeroen Peters

    Each member of the National Association needs to apply the industry standards. To ensure this, all of them are audited annually. WE has a list of certified audit bodies as well as a list of certified trainers. If a company is not fully up to standard they should start an improvement action plan. However, members not living up to the standards and not implementing necessary changes will be expelled from their membership.

  • WE

    Referring to high-quality training programs, can you reveal us if WE is planning new courses including different content or attending to new requirements?

  • Jeroen Peters

    By embracing Point of Use standards within the organization we have created a need for related training and new courses, even if the training we organize always deals with ensuring high quality and consumer safety. We are now working on the exiting concept of an online water university, but it is still work in progress.

  • WE

    WE’s Annual Trade Fair and Convention will shortly take place at Odessa, which means the end of your stage conducting WE steps… What else should companies expect from this event?

  • Jeroen Peters

    Odessa is the key meeting point for our industry in 2011 and forms an important further opening to Eastern Europe. Odessa will offer a great opportunity for our suppliers to meet a part of Europe where the market is still growing and that has an increasing demand for quality drinking water. The convention program contains subjects that are both interesting and topical for the industry, whereas the workshops are designed to address more practical issues. During the annual Gala Dinner WE will announce the prestigious Aqua Awards winners. The dinner event  also provides a unique opportunity to meet and engage with key industry players and to enjoy good food and entertainment in good company and an enjoyable environment.

  • WE

    WE seeks to influence the drafting of European directives affecting the industry in order to watch over the best interests of its members. In this sense, could you highlight any achievement during your chairmanship?

  • Jeroen Peters

    European Directives for the Watercooler Industry follow similar principles to those addressing the Food Industry and the Watercooler Industry is fully committed to consumer protection. The Code of Good Hygiene Practice for Bottled Water Coolers was positively received and gained full acceptance in Brussels. WE is currently working to register the Code of Good Hygiene Practice for Point of Use in Brussels. However, this is not enough. To work, these industry commitments require full implementation at national level. We therefore promote the Good Hygiene Practice also in countries that are not yet part of WE. Since my Chairmanship WE has cooperated with 2 more National Associations, Azerbaijan and Hungary, also them adopting  the European Directives.

  • WE

    After a year like WE chairman, has your overview of Watercooler Industry  changed in any way?

  • Jeroen Peters

    Prior to getting actively involved with the work and activities of EBWA, now WE, it was not very clear to me what this association is all about. When I was elected Chairman I had a pretty good understanding of its role, but I have learned that in reality WE has even more to offer. It therefore surprises me how difficult  it can be to get this message across. This highlights the need for us to demonstrate and communicate even more concretely what we do, and the benefits of membership. While this may take some time, we have already taken important steps to this direction. The basic fact remains the same: We provide a valuable product and service and represent an important industry. It is therefore equally important that we exchange views and experiences and work and act together where ever feasible on matters of non-competitive nature. I therefore encourage members to communicate more and to actively provide feedback. Come and talk to me and other WE representatives in Odessa, we're looking forward to your feedback!

  • WE

    Finally, we’d like to ask you for an evaluation of your last year as WE chairman: In your opinion, what are the most important future challenges for Watercooler Industry ?

  • Jeroen Peters

    I see a bright future for our industry ahead of us. We have the opportunity to address multiple social issues and we can contribute to solve these issues. We are in a business of providing daily healthy hydration, we have the best weapon against obesity, a major issue for an increasing amount of developed countries in the coming years. We should build on this and communicate the benefits of our product and service, based on factual information. Meanwhile our biggest challenge is how we are perceived. By actively and constructively participating in addressing societal issues and in identifying and providing solutions, we have a tremendous opportunity also in this area.  

Past interviews