The final part of this three-part article discusses how activated water technology might change the cleaning industry.

Everyone acknowledges that manufacturers and distributors have to make a living and that the sale of chemicals and related equipment has been a trusted way to do so. But manufacturers and distributors could be blindsided by technological advances if they don’t embrace them soon.

“Customers look to their distributors for advice on best practices and new technologies, and they have come to expect their trusted distributor to help them understand the options and which products and technologies will provide the best solution for the application,” says Leis.

Shanahan compares the current situation distributors are in to the one faced by telephone companies when mobile phones became more popular than landlines.

By helping distributors feel comfortable with and knowledgeable about engineered water products, manufacturers can help distributors see the technology as a sustainable profit center. This isn’t about asking distributors to stop selling chemicals, because there will always be a market for them, says Shanahan. 

“We never ask our distributors to choose between selling a traditional chemical to a client or selling our product; in many cases our technology complements the chemical they already sell,” says Shanahan. “Our product becomes the technology that you go to the school district that your competitor has and you win the bid on that — not on a lower margin but a far higher margin, because our products have a higher gross profit than the chemicals they’re selling today.”

Although distributors may have concerns about the industry impact of activated water products and on-site generation technologies, particularly in regard to their traditional chemical sales, there are long-term benefits for those distributors that introduce customers to these innovations, says Leis.

“Distributors that consider the long-term implications of a technology shift realize that being first to introduce their customers to innovations that deliver strong benefits in terms of cost savings, simplicity and sustainability will not only help them protect those customer relationships, but have the opportunity to win new business as well,” she says.

Part of what engineered water represents are technology and innovation, says Shanahan, which are especially important to the next generation of workers entering the industry.

“These young people are technologists, who grew up with technology and want to sell technology,” he says. “It will be very hard to recruit the youth into this business to sell urinal cakes.”

Elliott urges both manufacturers and distributors to embrace technology and innovation, as they are integral to the evolution of the cleaning industry.

“While distributors are making money off the chemical sales, the training and the support, they need to develop an innovation team that is preparing to deliver tomorrow’s technology and tomorrow’s products,” says Elliot. “In the next few years, you will see technology that moves beyond anything in the market today.”

Lisa Ridgely is a freelance writer in Milwaukee. She is a former Deputy Editor of Sanitary Maintenance.

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Using Hypochlorous Acid, Ozonated Water For Cleaning