[0:00:08.2] TB: Welcome to Scaling up the podcast for water treaters by water treaters where we’re scaling up on water treatment knowledge so we don’t scale up our systems. Hi everybody, I’m Trace Blackmore, the host of Scaling up and a couple of things to tell you, we’ve got a convention coming up in a couple of weeks from AWT, hopefully everybody has gone online and registered for that.
I’m looking forward to seeing every one of you folks there, I’m going to be handing out some scaling up pins so be sure to get one of those. I’m also planning on doing some interviews there so if you like the show, come up and tell me, maybe we’ll get you on the air and you can give me some show ideas on the air. If you don’t like the show, please, if you see me walk the other way. No, tell me what you don’t like about the show and we’ll fix that too.
Today’s show should be very interesting, we’re going to talk a little bit about closed loop systems, what you need to know, they are the step child of the water treatment community, I hope after today’s show, you treat them with a little bit more respect and then we’re going to have a guest that is one of my really good friends and truly somebody that I have learned a ton from, Mr. Jim Lukanich and he’s going to share some items that we should know about water treatment.
I know this is going to be an exciting show, I hope you enjoy it so let’s start by talking about the close loop. The close loop in my opinion, the most neglected part of this all the systems that us, water treatment folk take care off, think about what our job is, we are heat transfer efficiency managers, trying to take heat from if we’re removing heat from one part of the building through our equipment to some place where we don’t care about it, ie, the atmosphere.
Well the close loop is one of those parts in that heat transfer train that allows us to transfer that heat. Why would we give the cooling tower loop more respect than we do the close loop system? I don’t understand that.
Our job is to make sure that we’re treating for all four legs of the water treatment program and those four legs as we’re making sure we take care of scale, we’re making sure we take care of corrosion, we’re making sure we’re taking care of dirt and debris that gets in the system and finally, we know that bugs can grow in our system so we’re taking care to make sure that they don’t grow rampant throughout our systems.
Now most of us do a fairly good job of that in the cooling tower but then we fail miserably at the close loop. Now, I will say that most people have a scale and corrosion inhibiter that they put in their closed loop system. Most people, depending on where you are don’t have to worry too much about a concentration ratio of one since we’re not concentrating up the close loop of ever getting to a scaling condition.
I have seen it happen so make sure you know your system, you know your water and you know how to treat for it but in most cases, we don’t worry too much about scaling in a closed loop system. We worry more with corrosion and then that’s where a lot of water treaters stop. Well wait a second, there are other legs that we have to treat for, I say we have to treat for corrosion, scaling, dirt and debris and microbial fouling.
All right, well we’ve kind of addressed corrosion and scaling but what about the dirt and debris, just as a normal working of how that system flows, we’re going to have pieces of metal and trash and stuff in the system. Why don’t we have a filter on the closed loop system?
In my opinion, I don’t know why they even sell pot feeders because they don’t have a filter in them. If you don’t have a filter on your close loop, I don’t understand why because that’s one of the four areas that we have to treat and as I said before, our job is to be a heat transfer efficiency manager and if we’ve got a bunch of dirt and debris on the side of our heat transfer services, we’re not doing a very good job of that.
Why not take out that pot feeder and replace it with a filter feeder so that way we’re taken out all the crud that’s in the system. Water is the best heat transfer medium when it’s water but when it’s water and a bunch of gunk, it’s not going to keep the cost of running that equipment as efficient as it possibly could and as cheap as it possibly could with that costumer.
“My customer doesn’t want to pay for a filter feeder, they’ve got that pot feeder, they say I have to deal with it” Well, you’re a water treater and you’re a sales person because you understand what your goals is, you might have to explain to your customer what their goal needs to be but you do it in a way of ROI or return on investment.
Okay fine, the filter feeder and installation’s going to cost X and you already have a feeder so as far as you’re concerned, you’re spending money that you don’t have to spend. Why would they ever say yes to that? You have to change their way of thinking that they are spending extra money every single second with all that crud in the system that they don’t have to spend with you, you’re going to convince them that if they spend Y money, they’re going to make up that money with all the energy that they’re going to be saving in two months or three months or five months.
That’s called return on investment and then after that’s paid off, that’s instant savings for them on their program. Start thinking on that mindset, when people tell you no, it’s not that they’re telling you no, it’s they’re telling you, I don’t understand why I should say yes.
Step back, put yourself in their shoes and think, what information would I need in order to go out on a limb to spend money that other people might not think that I need to spend. If you can give them the ammunition for that, they’re going to say yes to your recommendations.
All right, that’s one of the items we weren’t treating, the other one was microbial, it amazes me how many closed loop systems that I see that we don’t put biocide in. A lot of our inhibitors can act as food for the” bugs” that grow in our system so we are just simply allowing them to grow and giving them a buffet to feed on. My advice, every single close loop system you have, you are treating with the proper biocide.
On another show, we’ll get into biocide selection and why you would choose this over that. But for today’s show, we’re just going to say that the close loop is just as important as that cooling tower loop and you know what that tower looks like when you don’t feed biocide, well it’s a lot easier to see, of course we’ve got a more dynamic system with the cooling tower and sunlight might be getting in but we have things that are growing in the close loop as well.
Please, give the close loop the respect that it deserves and give your profession the respect that it deserves. If you are going to take care of a customer’s systems, make sure that you’re completely taking care of those customer’s systems.
Treat for all four areas of water treatment: scaling, corrosion, microbial filing and taking the dirt and debris out of the system.
[0:08:05.4] TB: Today my lab partner is Jim Lukanich. Jim Lukanich was a former AWT board member, he won the Ray Balm Memorial Water Treater of the Year award in 2008 and just an all-around heck of a smart guy. How are you doing today Jim?
[0:08:21.7] JL: Just fantastic, how about you?
[0:08:23.4] TB: I am doing wonderfully, I’m so glad you’re on the show, I don’t think I’ve ever told you this story before but about 20 years ago, when I went to my first AWT training, I saw you do what you do and you really inspired me to become an AWT trainer.
[0:08:43.5] JL: That’s pretty amazing, I didn’t know I was so inspiring of a person you know? I tell you what though, that pink lab coat you have on as my lab partner, that’s pretty inspiring.
[0:08:53.5] TB: Well you know, it’s good to accessorize when you’re speaking with Jim Lukanich. I figured, if I could deliver something as far as water treatment training as well as you do and inspire people to go out and make it better then that’s what I needed to do. I don’t think I ever told you that story before so I wanted to share that with you.
[0:09:13.4] JL: Well you know, I’m all choked up, I don’t know what to say.
[0:09:18.4] TB: That being said, I know you and I are in a competition when we get the ratings for speakers, you know, normally you and I are right neck and neck on each other, you’re normally the speaker we all aspire to be as good as. One day I’m going to beat you Jim.
[0:09:37.3] JL: I hope you do because that means that you’ve done well for yourself.
[0:09:42.6] TB: Jim, I think anybody that has been involved with AWT knows who Jim Lukanich is but there could be some listeners out there that don’t know who you are so could you maybe do a little lead in on who Jim Lukanich is?
[0:10:00.3] JL: Well, I’m the short guy, about five seven, about 59 years old, I run, bike and swim and I’ve had just happened to be a water treater and I’ve been into water treatment industry for since 1981 since getting out of college in 1981 and so I’ve amassed a great deal of experience over the years, some of them better than others but I’m very interested in the sciences, I’m very interested in, especially microbiology for some reason, I tend to gravitate towards that area.
Though I do have a great interest in the chemistry, it’s hard to avoid being involved with chemistry when you work in the chemical industry or in the water treatment industry. I have a wife and I live in Grapevine, Texas. I have nine cats and two dogs, all rescues by the way, no pure breeds here.
[0:10:52.2] TB: You just recently got a new cat didn’t you?
[0:10:54.8] JL: The one that came the night before last?
[0:10:57.1] TB: Yes, you posted it on Facebook, I saw it.
[0:10:59.9] JL: yes we did, however Laurie took the cat to the tea cap and it’s a place to go get spayed and neutered for rescues or to go take a feral animals and have them spayed, neutered and then notched in their ear and rereleased or neutered, spayed, released.
The cat was chipped so which is amazing, it’s about nine months old even though the chip company says it’s five months old and she took it to our vet and they contacted the chip company and so we’re waiting for a call, hopefully the owners are missing their cat and wanting him back, I hope they didn’t just kick him out the door. We’ll find out.
[0:11:42.0] TB: Do you want to do a plug for being a responsible pet owner and spaying and neutering your pets?
[0:11:47.4] JL: Yes, you should spay and neuter your pets definitely and don’t wait, do it quickly because if they happen to get away from you and get out into the wild, they’re going to make more animals and more kittens and more puppies and we don’t need more kittens and puppies out there plus it’s costing me a fortune neutering and spaying stray and feral animals.
[0:12:11.5] TB: There you go, public service announcement.
[0:12:13.2] JL: Yes, definitely.
[0:12:15.0] TB: Well Jim, what brought you to the water treatment industry?
[0:12:19.5] JL: Well, that’s an interesting story. I don’t think anyone unless they’re their parents or relatives might be involved in the industry or their parents might own a water treatment company. Set out when they graduate from high school and then move on to higher education if they do to get into the water treatment industry.
I say that most people tend to end up in the water treatment industry by accident you know? More than on purpose.
[0:12:49.7] TB: Or a court order.
[0:12:51.4] JL: Or a court order, yeah. There you go. In my case, I got a college in 81 and I went to work at US Steel in Gary Indiana and I’m from that area, most of the people I grew up with end up working in the steel mill and I happen to work, go into that industry as well, a relative was a superintendent of personnel and said “Hey, I can get you out here in the environmental control department.”
I went to work at US Steel and the department I worked in was responsible for all of the waste water, hazardous waste, process and process cooling for the entire mill. Now that mill’s quite large, it’s about six miles long. You know, in some parts, a couple of miles wide so it’s a very big mill so it’s divided up into multiple departments and I was in what they call Environmental Control West and that’s mostly the rowing mills and casting mills.
I started there and worked and started to get an education and operations of waste water treatment facilities, filtration plants, cooling towers, large cooling towers by the way. Water distribution and utilities, discharge, hazardous waste and about two years into that career, they had a massive management layoff and about 70% of the management in my department was laid off and that included me and that was permanent layoff.
That wasn’t temporary layoff. I went to work for Nalco and I went to work for Nalco in Indianapolis, Indiana as a sales rep and I worked believe it or not for a gentleman that a lot of our AWT listeners will know quite well, Fred Latin who works for APTech and he was a wonder and a joy to work for.
I really loved that man, I didn’t like working for Nalco so much because essentially it was a very good experience for someone who is more inclined to be technical and even though I didn’t mind doing the sales part, I wasn’t that good at it because I didn’t know how to ask people to buy things or they really didn’t want to buy.
After I worked at Nalco a few years, I decided to start looking around and a company called Buckman Laboratories who most of you are familiar with as well that are listening in asked me to come for an interview and I went for an interview, I was very impressed by that company, I had never heard of them and they had exactly the job I wanted and that was a job involved with marketing of the raw materials that people use at water treatment.
It was much more than that and one of the first things that – what was funny is I had to call them, they were really looking for a PHD and they had about 20 something people on their interview list and that process took a long time because the principles involved in making the decision traveled internationally and that was another part of the job that attracted me was the international part of it.
That was somewhat exciting and so I went and I kept calling them and bothering them and eventually I guess I got tired of me calling them and being aggressive about hiring me. They decided that they would hire me.
[0:16:21.2] TB: The path of least resistance was to hire you.
[0:16:24.2] JL: It was and boy were they sorry. Let me tell you about what’s interesting about that company at that time, I don’t think it’s still the same way. Because of the nature of the job, the people that were industry specialists and I also worked with a gentleman by the name of Rip Clark who recently passed on and I worked with a guy named Pete Zisson who was my counterpart. I was hired by a gentleman by the name of Dick Looty. Dr. Dick and Dr. Dick Ross and both wonderful human beings.
What was interesting about this job, is you were involved not only in learning everything about the products that they sold but how to formulate them, how they worked. You interacted with research and development, looking at their data, getting involved with creating new products, we worked with the analytical laboratories to every single analysis.
I don’t know, most people know this, in the old days Buckman, for their customers who would buy fascinates and polymers and biocides, were able to send deposits and water samples in and get analysis done on them, pretty good analysis for free and so in our position, we had to review all those analysis and interpret them so that when customers would call, we give the managers about how to fix things.
In addition to that, I had to accelerate by learning. I do like to know things and of course that’s what I do, I drink and I know things right?
[0:18:05.2] TB: Yes, Game of Thrones reference.
[0:18:08.1] JL: because I was a very young man and only had realistically with my two years on the end user experience level and my three years roughly at Nalco, I didn’t know anything really. I knew just enough to know that what I needed to know or wanted to know but I wanted to know more, I wanted to know how everything worked at its molecular level, how these microbicides interacted with the microorganisms.
What was challenging about the job at Buckman, it required you to do that. One of the first things that my boss did is says, “you’re going to go to Brazil in three months and you and another guy and you’re going to do a week long industrial microbiology course.
Half a day at lab, half a day of lecture.” I said,”Oh I don’t know that much about industrial microbiology.” He says, “Well you better learn fast.” It was interesting, basically I keep saying the word basically. I’m going to stop doing that, remind me, slap me across the desk here if I keep doing that.
We went into work in the morning, it was always a challenge to see who could be the first car in the parking lot. Never beat Chuck Brandenburg who is now retired, he eventually become president but we would get there pretty early and we would leave pretty late and this is before the age of really having functional internet or anything else.
We were doing presentations on transparencies and that thing. I wouldn’t leave until 7:00 at night and then often came in and worked half a day on Saturday and a lot of what I was doing in those extra hours is reading technical papers. I would get a topic and I’d ask, we’d have a full library with library search capabilities.
Now what you could do on Google on an internet search and order papers, we used to have to have a librarian do it and then we get this really big stack of folded computer paper and I’d go through it with a highlighter, there would be thousands of articles. I’d go through them and highlight the ones I wanted and then sheet order them and I’d spend time reading and studying and learning from them, it was a tremendous learning experience. We also did our own RND in our department, we had project specialist who would do various pet projects for us on corrosion inhibitors and effectiveness of different microbicides and scale inhibitors outside of the RND department as well.
The learning experience there is equal to none. There just isn’t, aren’t people who get that type of opportunity to get involved in so many things to get thrust into so many different applications in so many situations. And have to have some sort of expertise to deliver to the customer and it forces you to become and learn, become that expert and learn a lot of information very quickly.
To this day, I always tell people, try to keep learning, never stop learning.
[0:21:14.3] TB: Definitely a key to anybody’s success.
[0:21:17.4] JL: Sure, I guess I haven’t finished, I kind of got off on a tangent there. In 2000 I came to work for a company called ChemCal which is a regional water treatment company. The owner of that company, Steve Dummer had, kept trying to get me to come work for this company and by god, finally I did and it was a very enjoyable 14 years with ChemCal and just a few years ago, ChemCal sold to US Water which has bought me to the next evolution of my career which has also been a fun and exciting time the last few years.
Again, very challenging but what a wonderful company to work for. That’s where I am now and it’s a lot of fun, just having fun, looking to the last several years of me being employed and heading towards retirement who are probably five years, six years out, maybe seven years out in the future but I’ll stay involved in the industry but certainly will do it on my own terms.
[0:22:20.9] TB: What secrets would you say that you have learned throughout your many years of water treatment experience?
[0:22:27.4] JL: Well Trace, I think the secret is in the question. What secrets have you learned in your career? I’ve never stopped learning, I’ve always – I think the secret to becoming a world class water treater is to never stop learning. Always – never believe what anybody tells you. Always question and always seek out advanced knowledge of any topic that you truly do not understand.
You know, with the young folks coming into this industry today with the access to the internet, you can just simply search on a topic and get tremendous amounts of information.
Some of it you have to pay for obviously, 15, maybe 30 bucks for a technical paper but boy, it’s well worth it to do that. That’s one of the secrets. The secret is to never stop learning, always question because one thing for the young folks out there who happen to listen to this podcast, you’ll find is, this industry is full of rules of thumb and mythology that has just been carried on throughout the decade and a lot of it is not necessarily accurate.
Just keep learning and always question. I think that’s the biggest secret to learn.
[0:23:51.5] TB: Yeah, I remember at the last technical training, you were answering questions and somebody was asking about not being able to put nitrite in a system that had air introducer or an open close loop for a lack of a better term.
I remember you had told me about that years ago and I also have that trust but verify attitude. I said, “You know, I’ve always heard that if the loop is not 100% close, you cannot use nitrite so I’m proven Lukanich wrong” and I went back to my lab and I made up a sample of our product and some water and I bought of fish bubbler at Walmart and I put it in there, let it bubble all day, I came in the next morning, I was going to test it and see how low the nitrite was and give you a call and tell you that was wrong.
And it was exactly the same as it was before. Okay, well I give it two days, exactly the same as it was before. I give it a week, it was exactly the same as it was before. I think I left that thing on there for six months and the change was so little but that goes to your point, that was a rule of thumb that somebody said and it wasn’t true and we all followed it for all this time.
[0:25:01.0] JL: Yeah, that is funny. And Trace, whenever you doubt me, you do so at your own peril. That may have spun out of a lack of understanding of the role that microorganisms play in reducing nitrites and nitrates. Rather than the fact that it reacts with oxygen so much, it’s probably because if you have a large open pit with, even though it’s essentially a close system, you’re not evaporating very much water.
Open/close system, some set. It may be because of the microbes that continue that are getting contaminated, often in many plants, you know, people have these pits and dirt and debris getting in there and it’s getting inoculated with bacteria. That may be where that came from rather than just simply the chemistry aspect of it.
[0:25:52.7] TB: Was a very interesting exercise and I hear you, never doubt Jim.
[0:25:59.4] JL: But I love it when people question me because sometimes, I’m wrong and whenever I’m wrong, that’s the other thing, another secret if we can go back to that. Whenever you’re wrong or you don’t know something, always admit that you’re wrong. Say “Hey look, I thought it was this way” but I went back and did some more research and oh my god, it’s not that way, it’s this way.
I will tell you, I learned a big lesson back when I was young. One of my coworkers, advanced PHD and this is when I learned that about 50% of the people who have PHD’s actually deserve the PHD patent. 50% of them got them by just doing their professor’s pet projects.
For young water treaters, it’s okay to say “Hey look, I don’t know the answer to that. Here’s what I think but I’m not sure. Let me go back, check on that and get back with you on the answer.” I worked with a guy who never ever would admit that he didn’t know something. Instead, he would either deflect the question and say, “I’m going to get that later” or make up some answer out of the spot that was just totally ridiculous. I made a habit of writing some of this things and it didn’t sound right.
I said I’d go research them and I’d come back and say, “You know, you said this but here’s the research and supports that what you said is totally off base.” Finally he got sick of me questioning.
Always question, don’t be afraid to it that you don’t know. It’s always the best thing. Because if you make stuff up or you lie about a situation. God, don’t ever lie to a customer. Sales reps do that a lot, they maybe to cover up a mistake, they might not tell the entire truth and I would advise against that because long term, that doesn’t improve your relationship with a customer.
[0:28:00.9] TB: Great advice. Well Jim, your whole AWT training revolves around the subject of biology. I thought we could talk about how if you understand biology, it’s really easy to treat the cooling tower.
[0:28:17.3] JL: Well Trace, here we go. You can understand biology but do you understand microbiology.
[0:28:24.4] TB: So you’re correcting me again and it’s my show. All right.
[0:28:29.0] JL: Yeah, it’s the microbiology we’re most concerned about in the cooling water systems and the algae bacteria and fungi. In my education, that was my main focus was in actually infectious diseases. I was very interested in bacteria especially in certain disease causing bacteria.
I was very interested in microbiology and of course, working for Buckman Laboratories who was founded as a buy side or microbicide company that is easy to make that connection and that’s where I really got my interest in microbiology because there was a lot of smart microbiologist there and that was our focus.
I learned a great deal there on my own and from what other people’s work. Yes, to go to your point one step further, if people can control the bio film in their cooling water systems, everything else, the corrosion and deposition from mineral deposits or scales will follow suit typically.
In most HVAC type cooling, if you get into higher temperature systems, have some other phenomenon that the water interface or the heat exchanger water interface to deal with, certainly in most relatively cool – as far as heat goes, heat load goes. Microbiology plays a major role in all types of depositions. Most important.
[0:29:59.1] TB: Well you have a very simplistic way of helping people understand that and you relate that to teeth, can you tell our audience about that?
[0:30:09.0] JL: It’s too bad we don’t have any photographs right?
[0:30:11.8] TB: Yeah, when I teach across the hall and your sessions going on, I always know what slide you’re on when everybody goes “aah”…
[0:30:20.8] JL: Yeah. One of the things that people need to understand is that a cooling water system is an ecosystem, yes it may be artificially created but so are all the reservoirs except all the lakes in Texas are artificial you know? They’re man made.
So a cooling tower’s nothing more than a small pond with recirculating water in it and maybe some chemicals in it. The fact that the cooling tower itself is a big air scrubber, scrubbing in dirt and nutrient from the atmosphere, it can be a fairly robust ecosystem depending on how much contaminant is there.
If you start looking at your cooling tower, thinking of it as an ecosystem, then and a place that’s ideal for the growth of microorganisms. Then you can start thinking more along the lines of how important microbiology is.
Let’s relate this back to our keep. What we’re trying to really control in a cooling tower is bio film. When you brush your teeth or you rinse your teeth with, mouth with Listerine. You’re trying to control bio film. Remove nutrient particles from between your teeth by flossing and brushing and rinsing that feed the bacteria and also trying to remove bio film from your teeth which is also referred to as plaque from your teeth.
It’s really neat, it’s like brushing your teeth is like brushing your tubes or physically scrubbing something off in a cooling water system like your tower fill. Water pick might be like using a pressure washer, tower fill and then also when you rinse with Listerine, that’s simply putting a microbicide into your mouth to kill bacteria just like we do in the cooling tower.
Then if you were to use something like peroxide to rinse with, that’s an oxidizing microbicide just like we would feed an oxidizing microbicide in the cooling tower. If you can explain that, use that explanation to your customer, I think that’s something they deal with every day in their personal lives that makes sense, relevant to what you’re trying to do.
[0:32:29.8] TB: I will tell you when I hear something I like, I steal it and I stole that from you years ago and I’ve gotten so many aha moments from customers when I tell them that and they truly understand what it is that we’re trying to do with our products and our recommendations.
[0:32:45.7] JL: Sure, it’s a pretty amazing thing though in the old days, I’ve recently toned down my AWT presentation. If you go out in the internet, you could search on plaque and periodontal disease and tartar.
You’ll get some pretty there, so Trace, we were talking about the biofilm in the mouth and you had made it a point to talk about when you were training in another room adjacent to mine and you could hear the audience groan or let out a collective sigh when I showed the pictures of gnarly things going on inside the mouth. Well again, if you search the internet for pictures of gingivitis or periodontal disease or plaque or tartar, you’d get some pretty bad photographs and I had those in my presentation.
To drive home the point about scale formation inside the mouth and biofilm inside the mouth and I didn’t think about people’s sensitivities so much and that people might have some of these issues who are in the audience. So I replaced the more grotesque photographs with veterinary dentistry instead. Pictures of dog’s mouths that way I figured I wouldn’t offend anyone unless someone of course brought their nervous dog with them or whatever.
[0:34:16.0] TB: I actually did and he was offended. I wanted to let you know.
[0:34:20.6] JL: So I have toned that down. You know one of the things as you age and you become an old and wise water treater, you tend to become a little more sensitive to other people’s feelings and concerns.
[0:34:38.2] TB: So at what age do you get wise so I can look forward to that?
[0:34:42.5] JL: You know it’s interesting. I think some people including yourself develop wisdom at a very young age and –
[0:34:51.8] TB: You realize you’re not getting paid anything for being on the show right?
[0:34:56.2] JL: Yeah, I know but you are a fairly unique individual. Obviously by what you’re doing you hear the data, help serve our industry. You know I don’t know when I started gaining wisdom but I have noticed a difference in the last few years that I really react differently to situations that I may have 10 years ago and I think it is a gradual thing and it may just be due to hormones and getting older. You just don’t feel like arguing about things as much as you used to.
[0:35:32.2] TB: So do we go from talking about water treatment to your testosterone level, is that what just happened here?
[0:35:37.4] JL: No but that’s certainly maybe part of wisdom. At least wisdom from the point that you’re more willing to sit back and listen to people spew nonsense without reacting in an aggressive manner.
[0:35:55.7] TB: Fair enough. Well Jim as a trainer, I know you have a couple of pet peeves and one of them I heard is how you pronounce or how other people pronounce the word “potable” and there could have been people in distant audiences that may have pronounced that word incorrectly and they had to go through therapy and medication from the chastising that actually took place during that question that was answered. Do you recall anything that I am talking about?
[0:36:33.8] JL: Well there are couple of instances and there’s two different words that I’d like to talk about that often get misused and there of course is the word “potable”. Please everyone, out there listening to this podcast, if there’s one thing you do change in your life is don’t ever call potable water “patable” water.
[0:36:54.8] TB: Now listen, I am from the south and if you pronounce it phonetically it was “patable”. I am not saying that person that I was talking about earlier was me but I am just saying whoever that was.
[0:37:05.2] JL: Yes, well there was an instance I was with ChemCal, I was doing a training class for a bunch of prison maintenance supervisors and of course, I always had that slide in my basic water chemistry presentation about potable correctly and one of the guys stands up and he says, “Well son, this is Texas. Down here in Texas we pronounce the word “patable” and of course, we all got a great laugh out of that but trust me it is potable and if you look at the word up in the dictionary you will find that out.
The other word that people often misuse is microbicide. Please do not call it a micro bio-cide. Calling it a biocide is okay. I’m calling it a microbicide is okay but do not call it a micro bio-cide because a microbiocide would be a small biocide. So please use the term microbicide or biocide and most preferably unless you’re using it to kill zebra mussels or Asian clams or something of that nature, microbicide is probably a better term but those are certainly acceptable terms.
Microbicide biocide interchangeably. I still call them biocide-microbicide interchangeably it just depends on what I am thinking about that day. So those are my two pet peeve things, microbiocide and potable.
[0:38:45.1] TB: I am aware. I’ve actually walked into your class and you were telling the story how 10 years ago I actually asked you a question or this person actually asked you a question about potable water and was told it was from the Greek, pot – to drink and that persons still very sensitive about it.
[0:39:02.5] JL: I think it’s a Latin type of deed.
[0:39:05.3] TB: See Jim, you’re doing it again.
[0:39:10.5] JL: I could be wrong on that although I could look it up.
[0:39:14.2] TB: Well it’s what you do when you drink and you know things, I’m sure that you are correct.
[0:39:17.7] JL: Well of course, a drink is appropriate because I think “potabilis” meaning to drink, so there you go.
[0:39:27.7] TB: Wow, you just brought up something that I think I’m going to share with our audience because I don’t think anybody knows this except you and I. You just brought up this word that we don’t use a lot and you and I sort of have a challenge with each other that as we’re doing our presentations, five minutes before we go in to do those presentations we give each other a word that very few people have heard of and we have to use it correctly in our presentations. Is this correct Dr. Lukanich?
[0:40:01.1] JL: Yes it is and often times it’s a made up word.
[0:40:08.8] TB: I don’t think we’ve ever made them up. I think they’ve just been very unique words that they haven’t used since, I don’t know, a long, long time ago.
[0:40:17.6] JL: Well yes, that’s true and it is very fun because that’s a challenge to try to fit them in correctly or appropriately. Now believe it or not Trace, that started when I was still with Buckman Laboratories and I used to come down and do some training classes for ChemCal’s customers before I worked with them and they’d always challenge me to use a sneak in a word and often times that word was not one that you’d want to use in a mixed audience.
So we toned it down after that but sometimes they were scientific words for certain, gross things but there was always a word and that tradition carried on with us and I think it is a fun thing to do. It’s challenging for both of us as speakers to do that as well.
[0:41:10.3] TB: It used to be very easy for us to keep each other honest but now we are teaching on opposite sides of a hall at the same time. So now we have spies for each other to make sure to use it properly.
[0:41:24.6] JL: Yeah, I think the last time you actually walked into the room when I used it so.
[0:41:28.5] TB: Yeah, if any of you out there have ever been in Jim’s training class, Jim knows that you can only sit for so long and he gets people to stand up every 45 minutes to an hour. Well about every two hours, he gets everybody to yell out a primal scream. So I am teaching right next door on an air wall, I am pausing for effect and all of a sudden the people next door starts screaming. I had to go over there and see what’s going on.
[0:41:58.8] JL: Yeah and that’s a fun thing. I did that one time I was presenting a paper. I was working for Buckman Laboratories. I was presenting a paper. I believe it may have been for the first time at AWT and I thought – well I had learned this trick in a Tom Peters seminar I believe. It was called The Primal Scream and so I said “I am going to try this when I am doing my paper” and you know, our manager from Buckman are out there in the audience and I said, “Okay, it’s either going to work or it’s not” and it was quite effective, I think everybody enjoyed standing up and screaming so it was a lot of fun to do that and I think one of these days we should do the “taste great less filling” between the two rooms so.
[0:42:46.6] TB: Well you bring up an interesting topic because you’re a wonderful speaker. In order to be in sales, in order to work with customers, you have to be able to speak intelligently and get people to want to listen to you. What tips and what books, what do you do to become a better speaker?
[0:43:07.3] JL: Well, back in the old days Trace, I think that I used to practice a lot in front of the mirror. While I am not very good on media like doing a webinar or an interview in this case, I tend to do better in front of an audience. I think I practice a lot of it and it’s always something I did well even in junior high school and high school, maybe it was something I picked up at boy scouts, having to speak in front of the troop as the senior patrol leader or I think maybe it was just an evolution that I did not have a fear of speaking to people and audience.
That helps a lot, if you’re afraid and nervous, you are always a little nervous but if you’re afraid and nervous then you’re not comfortable in your own skin. I think if you’re comfortable in your skin that’s the first thing that you need to do. Secondly, I think for people that are doing it for the first time or they’re new at it, practice, practice, practice, know what it is that you are going to say especially if you don’t have the depth of experience in the topic of which you’re discussing and you need to hit all of your discussion points.
I think as your career evolves and you gain experience, you may have 20 different things that you could say about one bullet point on the slide and which one of those are two or three things you say can be different every time. So these days I don’t practice unless it is a material that’s totally new for me or it’s a new venue but for AWT, it’s just there. I have been doing it for so long that I know what I want to say and know enough. There is something new I find out, I always want to insert it into the conversation and so practice.
[0:45:04.2] TB: Practice makes better.
[0:45:06.2] JL: Ask Larry Bird how he became such a great basketball player, practice-practice-practice.
[0:45:13.3] TB: Well Jim, I get a lot of questions when I’m at AWT and then when people call me directly to ask questions, a lot about PTSA and I know that’s questions that you get as well and I know you’ve been using that for some time. Do you mind telling our audience some of your experiences about using PTSA?
[0:45:35.0] JL: Sure, we adopted that technology very early on when Pat and all those patents came off of existence.
[0:45:47.2] TB: Jim maybe we should even back up a little bit. Do you mind explaining what PTSA actually is for the listeners out there that don’t know what we’re talking about?
[0:45:54.0] JL: Well PTSA is a fluorescent tracing chemical that can be put into a cooling water formula typically is where it’s used. At very low levels in the part per billion range and most people use it in maybe 20 to a 100 part per billion range and measured with a fluorometer either continuously or as a check on a handheld fluorometer and it’s quite stable. It’s very stable to halogens. It doesn’t UV degrade readily and so it makes a very good tracing material for water treatment needs.
Nalco, that’s one of the advances they did that was brought to the industry that gave them a competitive advantage for many, many years was this tracing technology and now many companies alternate what they are using and are well aware of. What I find with the technology is very linear. It works quite well in most types of systems. The one thing that people need to be aware of with that particular material is you are measuring a tracer.
That doesn’t mean that your active component is at the same level that your tracer is indicating. Sometimes you need to do a backup check to your tracer to make sure that your active components are still present and that’s something that a lot of people forget about. Now the one thing, let me clarify that a little bit. It’s important to do that especially in systems that maybe are highly contaminated with solids because polymer will tend to absorb about.
And when your active groups are on the polymer they are no longer active and so you may lose activity. It is important to do a long holding time system, systems where the volume to load ratios are very, very high and your half-life of your system is very long because your polymer is going to absorb about and make it down to a level below in which it’s still going to be functional. So I would encourage people in those types of systems to do a phosphonate test at least and then occasionally maybe an active polymer test.
In most HAC systems that are operating a fairly good load and we have typical normal volume to load ratios, it’s not as critical as it would be in a large industrial system where you have dirty water and maybe that feeding is much active ingredient due to cost. So just be aware of that. That’s a key thing to keep at the back of your mind.
[0:48:50.3] TB: And if somebody wanted to learn more about that topic, where could they go?
[0:48:54.2] JL: Well probably they could go to AWT training.
[0:48:59.4] TB: I wasn’t looking for a plug for that but there you go.
[0:49:02.9] JL: Well AWT training, you could speak with the suppliers of the PTSA probes, Pyxis typically exhibits at the AWT convention. You could talk to companies that may sell integrated panels like H2tronics. You could talk to your fellow experienced water treaters about that. I don’t know how much of that is actually – how many technical papers have been presented on that topic. So you may do an internet search on that as well.
[0:49:41.2] TB: But as you said, take everything with a grain of salt and verify it.
[0:49:45.6] JL: That’s right, salt and pepper right?
[0:49:47.8] TB: Exactly. Now as far as microbicides, I said it correctly, you mentioned at the last training that there was one particular microbicide that could interfere with PTSA.
[0:50:01.7] JL: Yeah, that is the TTPC. I always want to get the jumble, the TTPC or the THPS together, you know they are so similar but the TTPC will interfere with the PTSA test and I’m not so sure most people are aware of that. Now unfortunately TTPC is a fantastic biocide. In fact, it is one of my favorite biocides because of it’s spectrum of activity. It’s introduced in with halogens. It’s surface activity for biofilm. So it has a lot of positive attributes however it will, if you are running say a 100 PPB on your fluorometer and you add PTPC, it may drop that.
It’s going to be a dose response relative to dose but you may drop it down with a typical dose of 70. So if you are automatically controlling your PTSA levels, by PTSA level in your system you are going to feed more products. So you maybe overfeeding product. Now the good news about that is you can account for that and understand that you’re slug dosing a bio set like that maybe once or twice a week. So that effect would probably glass over a period of hours rather than all the time.
So it may be something that is truly less concerning than it is but you’ll need to be aware of it so you can make adjustments in your program for it when you’re going to feed it.
[0:51:44.3] TB: Jim how did you learn about that?
[0:51:46.7] JL: Well it’s been known some quite of time that clots, even a lot of the clots will interfere with the PTSA and that came out of industry knowledge and so it is essentially the TTPC is a cationic phosphonium pod if you will. We’d better check and see if this interferes and sure enough it does. So just be aware of that.
[0:52:23.3] TB: Well great information. So obviously you have done a lot of things over your career, what would you say your biggest success has been?
[0:52:32.9] JL: Gosh, that’s a loaded question. I don’t really know if I have had any one big success. I think the most successful thing that I think I’ve done is I’ve gone through the industry for many, many years and I am coming out the other end of my career and not to damaged.
[0:53:07.3] TB: I am not really sure what that means.
[0:53:09.4] JL: Mentally or physically, you know I don’t really have one accomplishment that I would consider the biggest success. I think a lot of mine have been small wins like helping a customer solve an issue that no one else has able to solve, watching people that I have helped from other companies grow and thank me for helping them. It is a bunch of small wins. I don’t think that there is one thing that I’ve accomplished and I’ve always enjoyed doing what I do.
I think that might be the biggest win is that I have been in this industry for a long time and I am still relatively happy and now working for a company that is challenging me in different ways, that’s even more fun. So it seems like every 14 years or right around that, I have worked for Buckman for 14, ChemCal is 14, now US Water I am being challenged differently. So that’s keeping me fresh I think. So yeah, that’s it.
[0:54:33.9] TB: Well let me ask with all of your experience, I’m sure you put your mind to this one project or something that you are trying out and you knew it was going to be wonderfully successful and it failed miserably, what was that?
[0:54:48.0] JL: You know, again I don’t think I’ve had any major successes and I don’t think I’ve had any major failures either. I’ve had some small ones but I am trying to think of what I could have done that would have been a major failure and for the life of me Trace –
[0:55:22.7] TB: Maybe being on this show.
[0:55:24.6] JL: That, you know my biggest failure is my failure to recognize any of my failures. I’ve made a lot of small mistakes. I’m not really sure if I had made any major mistakes in terms of technology because otherwise I was rather careful about making sure I check things out – oh I can tell you one. One just popped into my head. You know I have been doing this for so long I’ve forgotten a lot. I tend to repress those bad memories.
I can remember one time I was working with Buckman and a lot of times customers will call us up for formulas. So I worked with a gentleman from NALCO in Indianapolis. His name was Dave Williams, Dave if you are out there somewhere “hello” and he went to work. He was doing some water treatment consulting. He called me because he was using some Buckman materials, called me for a formula that use a chrome tracer because back in the day, the product we sold when we both work together in NALCO, rather than go back then.
You could still use chrome in cooling towers and chrome made a pretty good tracer. Well the problem was because I didn’t know and we didn’t let it stability test for a longer period of time that we added the XFL chrome to the formula. It was an acrolade AMP phosphonate if that tells you anything and come to find out there was enough reducing agent still in the polymer that overtime it reduced the chrome to trimulate chrome and it turned green.
So he ended up with all these green product out there in the field so that was probably the most embarrassing advice I’ve ever given to anyone.
[0:57:18.6] TB: Well you were just before your time because now everybody wants green products.
[0:57:22.5] JL: Well they do, don’t they? Just keep in mind green products are also readily biodegradable so you’re going to need more microbicide.
[0:57:31.3] TB: There you go. Well Jim we have a lot of new to the industry listeners, what advice can you give them about being in the industry and you’ve given great stuff so far but what is something else that you can give them?
[0:57:46.4] JL: Number one, water treatment industry is a person in the field as a sales and service rep which most people are. Some people are either a service technician or a sales person but most of the time you are doing both functions and of course even if you are a service technician you are still selling what you do every day to your customers. Water treatment is one of the hardest jobs I think there is and the reason is number one, sales is a hard job.
You are trying to sell somebody your products, your services and you when they may already be happy with what they’re doing. Secondly, there is a lot of you out there so it’s highly competitive. Thirdly you have to be a chemist, a microbiologist, you have to be an engineer, a maintenance man and you have to be all of those things in one package and it’s very hard. Again Trace you’re going to kill me for this because I say it every time but water treatment is the only service industry where you can get a call at 3:00 in the morning to come out and fix a problem and it has nothing to do with water treatment.
And you may have driven two hours to get there and you’re at the site for an hour and they finally figured out that it is an electrical problem somewhere and you drive two hours home and the customer doesn’t get a bill. In fact, if you send them a bill they will probably say, “Well if you’re going to charge me for that I am going to get a water treater” so try that with an electrician or a plumber and see how mad the customer gets.
It’s a very tough industry but stick with it. Just develop some tough skin and realize you won’t sell every account. You are going to lose some accounts. You’re going to get even a good account occasionally. You are going to get someone who takes over the responsibility for water treatment that may have come from another company and he brings along the person or the company he used before. Don’t ever take that badly. Always exit gracefully. If you cannot be the supplier, you always want to be in second place.
You want to be on deck because eventually if you are on deck and have a good relationship, you’re going to get the businesses at some point. The other point, the other thing is learn and I’ve already told this to Trace, get yourself an AWT training manual, read it, study it, understand it, suck up as much knowledge as you possibly can from all the old timers around and some of the younger guys, learn something every day, become a certified water technologist and just be all that you can be and just learn.
[1:00:47.1] TB: Great advice, absolutely. Well Jim, this has been a wonderful conversation. I just have one question left for you and this is the lightning round question.
[1:00:59.0] JL: Oh god.
[1:00:59.4] TB: So the points are double here so you can’t come back. I don’t even know what that means so anyway, if you could have a conversation with anyone in history, who would that be and why?
[1:01:13.2] JL: Huh, you know I was afraid that you are going to ask me that question because I think you eluded to that before. You know, I’m not exactly sure who I’d like to have a conversation with. You’ve totally got me stumped on that one. I just don’t have that much reverence for anyone in history to want to have a conversation with. Actually I do because if history includes anything from the present time back to whenever, we evolved into modern human.
I think I probably liked to have a conversation with my father because I never got to have one with him. He died when I was a year old and never knew him. So I think that’s who I might really want to have a conversation with if you consider my father being a historical figure. I would have liked to have that chance and so that’s the person.
[1:02:29.3] TB: I think that’s a great answer. Jim this has been a great conversation. I appreciate you being my lab partner today. It’s just fantastic, thanks so much for joining us.
[1:02:38.5] JL: Okay, don’t forget your safety glasses. See you Trace.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[1:02:44.4] TB: What a great interview. Jim was a great guest. I know I learned a lot, I hope you did too. Since this was a little bit of a longer show, I’m not going to do any of the questions that we normally do on a show but please keep those coming to me. I do want to remind you that if you have not registered for the AWT Convention, please go online and do that otherwise you are going to end up paying more when you don’t have to just because you didn’t do it when you were supposed to and folks let me tell you, if you want to stay at the host hotel, please be sure and register because those slots fill up quickly so you want to make sure you get that.
I am having a great time bringing this show to you so I really appreciate you listening. Please let me know what you want to hear. In the meantime, please remember to learn something and be a better water treater tomorrow than you were today.