Scaling UP! H2O

025 The One On Insurance

Our guest today is Mike Highum, Vice President of McGowan Insurance Group. McGowan is a trusted provider of insurance and risk management products and services across the United States. McGowan Insurance Group just received the AWT Supplier of the Year for 2016.  Specialty protection includes Primary and Excess Liability, Pollution Liability, Professional/E&O, Executive Liability, Workers Compensation, Property and Fleet coverages. Complete risk analysis, loss prevention and claims management, as well as consulting services, are also provided. McGowan incorporates a collaborative approach that emphasizes client educational, along with delivering meaningful resources to equip clients with the necessary tools to manage risk.

During the last few weeks I’ve had multiple people in the water treatment industry asking me questions about insurance, so I thought to bring in the professional. In this episode we’re talking about what we should be thinking about when it comes to insurance and liability to protect not only ourselves but also our business.

Why would we talk about insurance on ScalingUP? Scaling UP! is not just water treatment and chemistry.  It’s about all things that have to come into play for us to have a successful water treatment business. Unfortunately, there’s liability out there and we cannot protect ourselves from all liability.  That’s why we have insurance.  As a employee you will think, “If the company does well, I’ll do well” or “If I know more about the company and what they have to go through then I can do better job.” During this interview, think in this mindset and think how you can be a better water treater tomorrow than you are today, knowing more about your company’s liability risk. Insurance is not the sexiest topic however it’s something that every business needs to have and it’s one of the things, as a business owner, you need to know about.

Can I get continuing education points for my CWT?

That’s my number one question! The answer is no, however, “we’re working on it” is really the right answer. Based on your interest on getting continuing education points, I did speak to the education committee.  The issue is that they don’t know how to track it, meaning they don’t know how they prove that the listener actually listened to it? I will say that the podcast is a newer format for the education committee and they may not be totally familiar with that. I’m going to ask you to help me help you with this question and the Scaling UP! Nation! can come up with a way that the Certification Committee feels comfortable issuing these points.  If you have any ideas, let me know.

On an earlier show you mentioned resin cleaning, how do you do that?

I believe that show was the one I did with Bruce Ketrick and in the intro I spoke on water softeners and did a very brief operational explanation and then I went into some brief trouble shooting. There’s not really a simple answer to that, the simplest way to do that is to use some sort of resin cleaning product and put that into the brine tank so that you have that going into every brining cycle and that will help clean up the resin.

To back up even more, what I’m talking about here is iron fouling and if I remember the episode, I was talking about the valance and that sodium has a +1 charge, calcium and magnesium have a +2 charge.  The way we get the calcium magnesium off the resin with a +1 charge is that we put so much sodium in there that the resin starts getting rid of the calcium magnesium because we faked it out to think it had a higher charge. If we have iron on the resin with a +3 charge, sodium is not going to go in there and remove the iron that’s in that resin hole, so how do we remove it? The resin cleaner should help promote getting some of that iron out, it won’t get all of it but it will help with some. My advice is not to wait for the resin to become fouled but to start using that resin to keep that resin cleaner longer.

Offline cleaning is when you put a whole bunch of cleaner in with the resin and then you have to agitate everything.  So basically, you take a PVC wand and hook it up to a compressor and bubble through a very, long, tedious, boring process. You can manually clean the resin using that airline that I just described, or you can put a little bit of resin cleaner in as an ongoing basis and/or you can send the resin sample off to be analyzed. It’s sometimes easier to just replace the resin rather than cleaning it.

You hear a lot about people job hopping these days, especially millennials. Do you have any statistics that talk specifically about how long people stay in the water treatment industry?

 I want to say I don’t have specific statistics that I have taken myself but I have heard Colin Frayne talk on this topic and he has said that throughout his career he has found, he’s a consultant an contributor to AWT and has been in water treatment for a while, that if somebody gets into water treatment and they stay for two years, they’re kinda hooked, they’re there for life. If people don’t reach that two-year mark, they’re more apt to switch jobs and do something else. That make a lot of sense. For somebody brand new that’s coming into this industry, it can be overwhelming for some. If someone were to stick it out and learn all along the way, they get hooked.

My advice is, for those new people out there. Keep doing what you’re doing.  This job is not going to come easy, this job is hard, but there will be a reward if you stay in this job. If you try to learn and be the best water treater you can be and make sure you’re better tomorrow than you are today, the more you’re going to appreciate being here. That’s what speaks to what Colin has found out.



Mike tells us how he got into this industry he’s been in for 30+ years. [0:05:38.0]

How McGowan Insurance Group has made a practice around the AWT. [0:06:37.0]

What water treaters should be aware of with regard to insurance and risk management. [0:08:45.0]

Defining what a certificate of liability is and the importance thereof. [0:10:21.0]

Reasons why clients are purchasing insurance. [0:11:45.0]

Instances where water treaters have said no to business because of higher insurance. [0:14:23.0]

Why getting all the boxes checked can be so costly. [0:15:13.0]

Three key areas water treatment business owners should be aware of when talking about insurance. [0:16:28.0]

Areas water treatment technicians should be aware of when talking about insurance. [0:19:08.0]

Documenting training, development, meetings held and practices adopted. [0:20:37.0]

Insurance benefits for being a member of AWT or a CWT. [0:22:51.0]

Mike tells us what opportunity we have with our insurance provider. [0:25:18.0]

The core liability program comprising of three essential parts. [0:26:42.0]

More areas of insurances available to us. [0:27:20.0]

Reviewing and checking your policies every few months. [0:29:40.0]

Comparing quotes and finding the insurance company that’s right for you and your business. [0:31:31.0]

Knowing your business well enough to know whether you have the right insurance coverage. [0:35:08.0]

Ways to start applying good practices in your business. [0:37:07.0]

Find out why Mike would want to talk to his dad if he could talk to anybody. [0:42:13.0]



Your actions really not only impact you, but they impact the entire company.” – Mike Highum

“If we don’t have it documented, we can’t prove that it ever happened.” – Trace Blackmore

“Don’t position your business to accommodate insurance; position your insurance to accommodate your business.” – Mike Highum


Links Mentioned

Mike Highum –


AWT Convention

AWT Webinars


Water Treatment education



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