Exude Professionalism

By Thad Plumley

A quest to be viewed as professional has been waged in this industry since its early days.

Want proof? Water Well Journal ran the editorial cartoon that is reprinted here in one of its first issues 76 years ago. The message was clear: Strive to be a well driller and not a well digger.

When I began at the National Ground Water Association more than 20 years ago, the goal was to have the industry striving to be water well contractors, not well drillers, as the word “contractor” better describes the all-around duties encountered on the job every day.

Now? You should be working to have the confidence that comes with being known as a groundwater professional. After all, when you possess a knowledge that is part drilling, pump installation, plumbing, electrical, engineering, human resources, insurance, and of regulations at the local, state, and federal level, you’re more than a contractor—you’re a professional.

Yet we’ve all still heard the words “well digger” more recently than we’d like to admit, right? It feels like a never-ending battle.

So, take matters into your own hands. It’s one thing to know you’re professional because of your education and training, but it’s another to show it off. This must be your goal every day—to exude professionalism.

Like the driller in the editorial cartoon, you need to look the part. Have a clean uniform and wear your PPE every day. Just lose the on-the-job cigar; remember the cartoon was printed in the 1940s after all!

Have your vehicles shiny and clean when they’re rolling to and from jobs. They are your biggest marketing tools—literally rolling billboards—so make sure you control what they are saying about your company.

Make sure the contracts, quotes, and other information you provide customers and potential customers is professional looking and professionally written. All those documents remain with people long after you’re gone, so it’s important the lasting impression is one of professionalism.

Finally, make sure all your customer interactions are professional.

I know a company that hosted an event last year for its customers. It had been well over a year since they were able to do so because of the pandemic, so everyone was excited.

Unfortunately, a few employees were a little too excited as they had a few too many drinks. Did they hurt the company? It’s impossible to know. Were those employees exhibiting professionalism? Absolutely not!

Professional reputations are hard to earn, but they are incredibly easy to lose. Remember those words until your last working day.

And go out and do everything you can to bury the “well digger” moniker in your area. Strive every day to be a groundwater professional.

Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and director of information products at the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.