Portable Sanitation Association International Outlines New Septic Industry Initiatives

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In 1971, a handful of entrepreneurial leaders formed the first trade association in the world for portable sanitation providers. Their aims were to provide excellent service to their customers and to influence the larger environment in which their companies grew. Now, more than 40 years later, the Portable Sanitation Association International is strong and its purposes are as relevant as ever.

In late January, leaders of 550 PSAI member companies from 34 nations welcomed me as the organization’s new executive director. I am delighted to join the PSAI at such a critical time in its history – and at a time that holds enormous promise for the portable sanitation industry’s impact on global sustainability and public health.

Each day since accepting my new role I have had the chance to learn about our industry through the many hardworking portable sanitation professionals I meet. They are rightly proud of the work they do, and they have been great teachers. As we talk, they almost always ask me something like, “Where do you see the PSAI going in the next few years? How can we take things to the next level?”

Successful associations have three qualities in common: 1) a reputation for good value with high-quality programs, events, services and standards that make engaging with the organization a “must” for companies in the field; 2) a contemporary, inclusive and enjoyable atmosphere; and 3) a rapid-response infrastructure that enables the association to quickly seize opportunities, respond to emerging issues and communicate information effectively. Thus, the PSAI’s strategic success will be measured by its growth in three corresponding areas: mission-related revenue, membership numbers and global influence in matters related to our profession.

With this in mind, I will be working with the association board of directors and other volunteers to develop and execute a long-term approach to increasing the PSAI’s capacity in some important areas.

  • Initiatives that increase the value and relevance of programs, events and services will be continuous based on the evolving member needs. We will focus on updating organization-sponsored standards and gaining wider acceptance for them with greater visibility to the PSAI brand.
  • We will implement ideas to ensure the organization is a welcoming place for new members and associates representing companies of all sizes from all over the world.
  • Affecting “big” issues like global sustainability requires a firm foundation and an audacious but attainable long-term strategy. Now is the time to intentionally address the image of portable sanitation at a global level. To do this, the PSAI will be implementing a comprehensive strategy to do a more effective job communicating the high level of knowledge and professionalism that is involved in providing clean, safe and reliable portable sanitation. We will be focusing on educating the public, policy makers and global activists about the role portable sanitation can play in addressing crucial public health and sustainability issues.

A lot of people believe our industry gets a bad rap – and I agree. Until sanitation fails, or simply does not exist, it is easy to minimize or make crude jokes about the work of people who handle waste. I am optimistic enough to believe this association can have a significant impact on long-held perceptions about the importance of our work, be recognized as a major contributor to solving some of the planet’s most pernicious sanitation-related problems – and do this while delivering value every day to a growing number of PSAI members. That is the shape of things to come for the PSAI. I invite you to join us in making it happen.


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