Water conservation is more important than ever and Taylor Irrigation Service (TIS), based in Houston, Texas, is an irrigation industry leader and advocate. John A. Taylor, president and CEO of TIS, just wrapped up a lecture series on “Water Conservation through Irrigation Design & Smart Technology” that began on February 27, 2014 as the keynote speaker for the WaterWise Professional Seminar at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin and ended on February 5, 2015 as the keynote speaker for the Irrigation Expo in Dallas. “This was a great experience for me,” said Mr. Taylor, “We took our message to the field from top to bottom. This was a grass roots campaign that really snowballed and touched a lot of people.”
John was the winner of the 2013 EPA WaterSense Partner of the Year Award (Irrigation) and was so inspired by that honor that he took it as a personal challenge to find a way to share the award and his philosophy, knowledge, experience and business model with others so as to help them succeed in the rapidly evolving irrigation industry. “There were so few irrigation designers, contractors or companies involved with the WSI event and it really motivated me to get others involved,” added John. “Improperly designed and installed irrigation is one of the biggest wastes of water on the planet and if we are going to turn the tables on the water shortages that we are faced with then irrigation professionals need to be at the heart of that change. I find that there is a bit of a disconnect between the bigger irrigation groups and the guys that actually show up in the field to install irrigation systems. In my mind the real challenge is to find a way to get the ideas of water conservation through responsible irrigation, and how to sell and market that concept, to the field so that the lowest guy on the totem pole is just as involved as the top guy.”
When asked about the success of his message, Mr. Taylor responded by saying, “I set out to deliver a message and what I found was a great many contractors, companies and water professionals that were waiting for something they could sink their teeth into. Many of these folks have been in the industry for a long time and it can be a dog-eat-dog world for sure. The key to getting the smaller companies and contractors participating is not only teaching them about the technology but also teaching them how to sell it. What I was recognized by WaterSense for is something that all of these contractors can do… they just have to have some support and it has to make sense for them financially. It can seem like a really dangerous leap to start using technology that costs twice as much as the tech you are used to using when you are having a tough enough time selling at that reduced price.” Taylor went on to say, “The key is selling the return on investment, ROI, to the client. Everyone wants to make money and that includes the client; not just the contractor. Teaching the contractor how to do that and by sharing my experiences, the do’s and dont’s of it all, gives these guys the confidence they need to take the next step. I know we reached these guys because I would receive dozens of emails after each lecture complimenting the lecture but more importantly asking for help! It took me a while to get back to each and every person but I did it and I was, and am, more than willing to help anyone and everyone move forward with intelligent designs and smart technologies that conserve water.”
When asked why he would share information that could make companies that are potential competition better at their jobs, John did not hesitate with a response, “That is a great question and I was asked that by a number of people that attended my lectures and more than one company that was worried about that very thing. My answer is simple… we all win. Conserving water is a no-brainer and when we do it successfully we all win; the contractors on the ground carry out the work and make money, the client conserves water and saves money, the water purveyor sees less burden on their resources and the infrastructure so they, along with the local municipalities win, the purveyors win, the vendors that are selling these technologies win and programs, like the EPA’s WaterSense program, win by facilitating and encouraging such changes. More directly; the more we learn about our job and go about our jobs within the landscape irrigation industry with the right mindset, the more money we all stand to make for ourselves and save for our clients. There are an awful lot of inefficient systems out there that need to be updated. I will add to that the fact that there are also a lot of guys out there doing it wrong and they lower the installation prices and hurt the image of the true professionals. Competition helps us all, the more of us doing it right means the less we are hurt by low ball bids and unlicensed professionals. The more of us that understand water conservation, water management and the value found in conscientious irrigation, the more we help our industry’s reputation. And if that wasn’t enough, we all need to care about water because it is a precious resource that we need to live. This problem will not go away by itself and we owe a solution to our children and our children’s children.”
When asked about quantifiable results from his lecture series that moved through all of the major Texas cities during 2014, Mr. Taylor said, “It has been amazing and people feed off of passion. The responses have been overwhelming. We have had one of the architect associations ask us in for a lecture, the TTIA has requested a lecture for later this year, we have had small lunch lectures for vendors like Longhorn and Horizon… we have even had requests from pool companies and landscape companies to come in and give a quick one hour lecture on what to look for and how to estimate projects like these or how to manage sub-contractors from the irrigation industry. These are all great signs because they mean active listening and participation from the audience, and they reflect contractors and companies that are ready to move forward.”
It is clear that Mr. Taylor is passionate about what he does and that it is that passion that is sparking conversation and change across the state. TIS is certainly at the forefront of that change and will continue to lead the charge one lecture at a time. Mr. Taylor would like to thank the EPA WaterSense Program for opening doors through his partner of the year award and for providing so many resources to contractors within the irrigation industry. He would also like to thank the TTIA, the HGCIA the DIA, Longhorn and Horizon for their continued support, strategic partnerships and passionate participation in water conservation.