How the company has expanded to a complete systems water treatment business.
Like most businesses, there comes a point where evolution is inevitable, no matter how different the catalyst for change may be. In the case of WestWater Enterprises, the team were ready to take on larger scale projects and, while retaining the family roots that will always be their foundation, the company knew that they could compete at the top with a complete system offering. Their theory on evolving the business towards this goal is two-fold – staff and assets.
Two years ago, the company had focused their efforts on being the ‘chlorine gas and disinfection experts’ in the industry. While the team had growing confidence in their skills as a complete systems water treatment business, they had remained siloed. “We had project management, design, and engineering capabilities however an industry perception meant that we were often not provided opportunity to fulfil the total project requirements,” says Matt Wagland, Technical Sales Manager. “We therefore provided just the final manufacture and install of chlorination modules.”
The catalyst for growth was quite an obvious one as the team at WestWater found themselves, not only designing, building and installing plants for some customers, but also making design and engineering changes to the plans they were given based on achieving the results at ground level. “Because our team has the history of manufacturing equipment and are the ones actually working on site, we can instantly see the faults and/or limitations of a design … we are the ones going to site two years later to pull the pump out and if the design hasn’t left enough spacing, for example, then performing a simple task could turn into a headache for these maintenance tradesmen or even mean a rebuild or shutdown of equipment. We know these finer details and can add the correct spacing etc. to the design from the start,” explains Wagland.
The benefit of having these two areas of the project work side-by-side – design and engineering with the manufacturing and installation – are clearly evident and the place where WestWater began to make their evolution towards complete systems… “We started with the move into controls and PLC (programmable logic controller) programming to support the instrumentations and electricians we had. This came about with a new full-time controls engineer,” says Wagland. “His role in the company is to do the PLC and their OIP (operating interface panel) programming for a dosing piece of equipment.” This skill is a great asset to the industry and having it held in-house at WestWater meant a great evolutionary leap for the company.
Along with the controls engineer, WestWater grew its West Australian in-house staff by fifty percent over two years with two dedicated project managers, a full-time safety officer, and a full-time AutoCAD draftsman and design manager. “Before we had our own draftsman in-house, the team would hand draw their own project before outsourcing the final designs. As you can image, this is time consuming and essentially double-handling a job,” he says. “Having this skill in-house now means that our design capabilities are a lot stronger and each employee can focus on their own speciality.”
“The current staff expansion essentially means that we can take on larger projects with more efficiency and collaboration,” says Wagland. “In the past, we didn’t have the staff in-house to run a large project so we became one of the suppliers on an external team. Now we are running large-scale projects from start to finish.”
Along with this evolution came a need for a more purpose-built WestWater office and workshop. The business moved in January this year to allow for the expansion; the new location includes an open plan work area for collaborative project development, a purpose-built service centre, and a 40% larger stock area for specialised equipment sales.
“The new office space is very open, from tendering to design to manufacture, meaning that everyone is working together and is continually across each stage of the project,” says Wagland. “The new service centre is also a great addition as it allows for a dedicated space to maintain and test the equipment that we sell,” he says.
In the last two years, the expansion of WestWater has positioned them alongside larger water treatment companies in Australia. “To complement our move into larger projects, the business has just been accredited with AS/NZS 4801:2001 for safety and ISO 14001:2015 for environmental standards,” says Wagland. “The evolution of our business will continue on this growth path as we seek opportunities to provide the highest standard of water treatment in Australia.”
WestWater’s capability to take on some of the largest local and national projects is done with a continued dedication to treating projects, clients, communities, and our most precious natural resource right from the start.