Developing and engaging NGWA members tops the list of priorities for the incoming NGWA president.
By Jennifer Strawn
“By organizing as a community, we can help each other become better professionals, and we can have a much stronger industry,” he says.
It’s the same message he heard Loyd Watson, MGWC, CVCLD, share at the 2007 Groundwater Expo and Annual Meeting, and it inspired him to volunteer for the National Ground Water Association.
Now, as he prepares to become NGWA’s president in 2018, he hopes it’s a message that inspires more members to take an active role in the association, too.
Following in his father’s footsteps
David, the vice president of Bergerson-Caswell in Maple Plain, Minnesota, isn’t the first Henrich to serve at the helm of NGWA. His father, Jack, was NGWA’s president in 2010.
The Henriches will join only three other families where father and son both served as NGWA president: R.O. Heater (1960) and Robert Heater (1968); Tom Renner (1958) and Roger Renner (2000); and Glen Lyons (1995) and Larry Lyons (2004).
Jack Henrich became involved with NGWA in the 1980s, serving on the certification subcommittee. He served on eight different committees and task forces for NGWA before he was elected to the Board of Directors in 2003, and then re-elected in 2006.
When his father served as president in 2010, David had the opportunity to meet and learn from John Pitz, CPI, NGWAF; Tom Downey, CWD/PI; Dan Meyer, MGWC, CVCLD, CPA; and Griffin Crosby, CWD/PI—some of the association’s most involved members, which gave him a deep understanding of how the association can strengthen industry.
“My father’s guidance has been unbelievably invaluable to me—and the association for that matter,” David says. “It has made my time with the association and the board so much more productive.”
He also says it’s like having a history book in the office next door.
“Anytime I’m thinking ‘How did we get here?’ I can walk next door and ask my dad,” David says. “He’ll tell me exactly how we got there.”
Jack says he has enjoyed watching him grow through the knowledge he has gained and the people he worked with through his service to the NGWA and Minnesota Water Well Association.
“He realizes the value of water, and the hard work we all do to provide clean fresh water to our customers,” Jack says. “I am very proud that he will shortly be president of NGWA, but prouder of what he has accomplished with the Board of Directors for the association and what he hopes they will accomplish in the upcoming year.”
Like many in the industry, David started by sweeping the garage floor as a teenager. He worked part-time at Bergerson-Caswell while pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and joined the company full-time after college in 2001. He worked his way up through the ranks in the company’s geothermal and environmental divisions before taking over the geothermal division in 2008.
It’s a career path his family knows well. In the 1950s, David’s grandfather, Ed, was hired as office manager at Bergerson-Caswell. He also worked his way up the ranks, eventually becoming an owner of the company.
His father, Jack, also started at the company as a teenager and joined full-time after earning his degree in mechanical engineering. Now, he serves as Bergerson-Caswell’s president.
The company, which was founded in 1948 by Ray Bergerson and Tom Caswell, is a full-service groundwater drilling and service firm serving Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Over the years the company has diversified to offer a broad range of services including commercial/municipal wells, residential wells and treatment systems, environmental drilling and geothermal systems.
Early on, David says he was drawn to the geothermal side of the business. He helped install his first heat loop when he was 17 years old, and after college, he started working more with the design and installation of the systems in the early 2000s.
“What interests me most about geothermal is that there is always something new to learn, discover, teach, or improve on,” he says. “I learn something new about our trade every day that I’m on the job.”
The power of the groundwater industry
David often jokes that his 20 years of experience might be seen as a career’s worth of experience in some industries. But in the groundwater industry?
“We call it a good start,” he says.
That wealth of knowledge and experience is what makes the association such a strong voice for the industry, he says.
David got his start in the association after attending his first Groundwater Expo in 2007 with his father. When he heard Watson talk about working together for the betterment of the industry, he was hooked.
“(Loyd) was so passionate about what we can do together,” David says. “I really appreciated the message, and that’s when I started to get involved.”
He worked on the Government Affairs Committee and worked his way through the association from there. His background in geothermal led him to contribute to the CSA C448 Bi-national Standard for Design/Installation of Geoexchange Systems, which NGWA worked on in conjunction with the CSA Group; the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers; and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association. Some of his other work with the association includes contributing to several best suggested practices, also known as BSPs.
David is also active in his state association—the Minnesota Water Well Association—where he serves as vice president.
Working together an as industry will be critical in coming years—especially in solving some of what David believes to be the industry’s biggest challenges today: water availability and management.
“As we look at some of the state and federal cases that have come up with water access and who owns the water under their feet, we’re finding it more difficult for our industry to have a voice in the process,” he says.
He cited the court ruling in Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District et al. in California. In April, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the tribe holds federally granted rights to groundwater beneath its reservation.
The upcoming electronic logging device (ELD) mandate was another opportunity for the industry to have a voice. NGWA worked to delay or rescind the mandate prior to its implementation in December, but has been unsuccessful.
That’s one of the reasons why it’s critical for the association to develop its members and community and encourage them to be more active, David says.
“We’ve always been a grassroots organization,” he says. “Our ability to get people to contact their representatives (when there is pending legislation) is becoming increasingly important.”
David also wants to improve communication so people have access to information when they need it and in a form they want to receive it.
“We have a lot of information at the association, so how do we best get people the information at the time they need it?” he says. “I think that’s one of the biggest things we’ll work on in the coming year.”
Leading by consensus
While David sees opportunities for the association, he’s quick to point out it’s not about his plans or where he wants to take the association in the next year.
“I’m not a unilateral actor,” he says. “I want to develop a team—a cohesive group—that’s working hard for our industry.”
He plans to work closely with the Board of Directors to flesh out ideas and see if there are things that would work for the membership.
“NGWA is here for you,” he says. “It’s your association, and we want to be a resource for our members and the industry.”
David appreciates that becoming a second-generation NGWA president is rare and is looking forward to leading the association next year. He knows it takes a lot for people to dedicate a portion of their time to do work for NGWA and says he’s thankful for all of the volunteers who continue to put so much effort into the association.
“It has been a remarkable experience,” he says. “I’ve learned so much from everybody and the opportunity to get involved in this organization has been remarkable.”
Jennifer Strawn was the associate editor of Water Well Journal from 2004 to 2007. She is currently in the internal communications department at Nationwide in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached at email@example.com.