The key to effectively mitigating risk when it comes to the spread of Legionnaires’ disease goes way beyond having the right chemical program, monitoring and dosing equipment or the latest software management systems.

“It’s all about the expertise and the attitude of the service technicians responsible for carrying out the regulatory routine testing and maintenance,” says SAS Water Solutions Managing Director Andy Dowdeswell. “It really does come down to the quality of the people and the standards they uphold. Any water treatment team is only as good as its weakest link.”

And Andy Dowdeswell should know. He’s been in the water treatment industry for 30 years and has seen everything. Which is why, 15 years ago, Andy started his own company – building a team of experts from the ground up. His priority? Creating an engaging workplace and employing only the best people – staff with the right skills, attitude and commitment to excellence.

Learning the business

Andy himself started off as a service technician after leaving the British Army and moving to Australia.

“I wanted to work in the great Australian outdoors so I started at the front line of the industry as a service technician for 10 years and worked my way up to senior executive management in a large multi-national company.”

When Andy started, there was no requirement for a formal qualification – a situation that still exists today, and something that Andy feels passionate about addressing.

“The only requirement to be employed as a service technician in the water treatment industry is to be classified as a ‘competent person’,” says Andy. “The industry is generally self-managed and I have seen too many examples where this has been poorly handled. In the process of building SAS Water Solutions, we have made this our key point of difference, the calibre of our staff, their technical and practical skills and dedicated customer service focus are what sets us apart in our industry and ensures that the servicing we provide is of the highest standards.”

Building a team of experts

Quality control is at the heart of water treatment and mitigating the spread of potentially fatal diseases such as Legionnaires’. The senior people at SAS Water Solutions are typically chemical engineers, microbiologists and marine biologists – who collectively represent more than 150 years of experience. At the service technician level, Andy has broken the industry’s cultural mold by investing heavily in specialised recruitment, training and development programs to ensure each and every one of the Australia-wide team are performing at the top of their game. Both through their own programs, and supporting external training opportunities, SAS Water Solutions has raised the bar when it comes to its staff’s professional development.

“Of course, all our technicians work at client’s sites with the latest calibrated testing equipment which validates the accuracy and integrity of the results. That goes without saying. But our job goes way beyond thorough program selection, monitoring and testing.”

“Chemical testing, dosing and metering are all performed remotely through our bespoke Sentinel management systems. Our frontline team have the skills not only to carry out accurate field testing, interpret results and trends in order to make the correct adjustments, predict future situations and mitigate risk, but they are also effective, professional communicators who develop field summary reports, talk extensively with the client and explain what they are doing and why, so that everyone is informed. They are not just chemists in white lab coats with no social skills… far from it, they engage, explain, report and demonstrate. We are in the business of exceptional customer service!”

Saving lives

And why is this all so important? Take Legionnaires’ disease as an example. This disease is transmitted by airborne pathogens and is spread through the inhalation of microscopic Legionella bacteria living in tiny water droplets (mist), which can thrive in the cooling towers on top (or inside) large air-conditioned buildings. The operation and maintenance of these cooling towers is fundamental to a Legionnaires’ risk mitigation strategy. And that’s when you want the SAS Water Solutions team on your side.

“The right people with the right training and skills together with the right tools – that’s what it’s all about.”

Keeping microbial growth under control?