2024 Leadership Awards


Entering the “Hall of Fame” is the highest honor bestowed upon a WQA member. This recipient is recognized for lifetime dedication and service to the water quality improvement industry and the association.

Darwin R. “Buzz” Goldstein, MWS

Charger Water Treatment Products, LLC

Darwin R. “Buzz” Goldstein is general manager of Charger Water Treatment Products. He started in the water treatment industry in 1967 and has worked in retail, manufacturing and wholesale during his career. In 1980, he was one of the co-founders of Charger Water Treatment Products, LLC., which now has 15 locations throughout the United States. Buzz was the 2020 recipient of WQA’s Ray Cross Award. He was twice named to the President’s Club and, in 2002, was honored with the Quality Circle Award for Membership Recruiting. Buzz holds a WQA Master Water Specialist certification and served on the WQA Board of Directors from 2019 to 2022. He also has served on the Events and Membership committees.


Given to those individuals who are or have been active within the industry and have rendered exemplary service to the association, and whose knowledge and accomplishments in the field of water quality entitle them to special recognition.

Kurt Gruett, CWS

A.O. Smith Corporation – North American Water Treatment Division

Kurt Gruett started in the water treatment business as a kid, sweeping floors at Water-Right, a company his father started in 1963. Over the years he rose through the ranks to become President of the water conditioning systems company. In 2019, Water-Right became part of the North American Water Treatment Division of A.O. Smith, where Kurt now works in business development. He is a Certified Water Specialist through WQA and served three terms on the WQA Board of Directors. He also is a past president of the Wisconsin Water Quality Association. Kurt is a lifetime member of WQA President’s Club, which honors members for their membership recruitment work. He also served on WQA’s Membership Committee for many years.

Peter Meyers


Peter S. Meyers was ResinTech’s Technical Director for 28 years until his untimely passing in 2022. His dedication and expertise covered a wide range of ion exchange topics, from demineralization, condensate polishing and water softening, to industrial process design and operation and product development. One of the most prolific technical writers in the industry, Peter wrote countless articles for virtually every industry trade publication and was a highly sought-after presenter, educator, and session leader. He spoke more than 100 times at conferences and trade shows (including WQA), combining his mastery of ion exchange with a unique wit that became his signature style. His name appears on five U.S. patents.


Like receiving the key to a city, this WQA member is recognized for demonstrating the highest qualities of leadership within his/her company, industry, and various associations, as well as in local civic and community activities.

Suzanne Trueblood

Florida Water Quality Association

Suzanne Trueblood, Executive Secretary of Florida Water Quality Association, has served FWQA for 36 years. With her background in banking, public relations, and association management, her role has expanded to assisting in FWQA’s growth in membership and recognition. She is proud of the working relationships she has created over the years, whether they be with other state associations or WQA’s education and government affairs teams. Suzanne has served on several Boards of Directors for non-profit organizations and is the founder of Noah’s Ark of Central Florida, an organization for people with developmental disabilities. She also is active with United Way and church activities.

William Jefferis

Freeman Water Treatment of MS, LLC

As both owner and president of Freeman Water Treatment of MS, William Jefferis has more than 30 years’ experience in the industrial, commercial, and medical water treatment industries. He served on the WQA Board of Directors from 2015 to 2021 and is former Chair of the Commercial/Industrial section. Bill serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of Fannin Water Association and as a member of WQA’s Business Operations & Training Committee. His dedication to the industry stems from his passion for ultimately improving the quality of life for all that benefit from high-purity water, whether it be through better-working commercial products or medical uses that potentially save lives.


In honor of Ray E. Cross, Water Specialist Emeritus and Past President of WCAI 1960, this special award recognizes a current or former WQA member whose pioneer spirit and unwavering commitment has made a notable difference in the water treatment industry and has not been previously honored with the Hall of Fame or Lifetime Member Award.

Mike Herman, MWS

Culligan Ultrapure

Mike Herman, Vice President and General Manager for Culligan Ultrapure, began his career in water treatment in 2006. Previously, he served 21 years in the military and was a District Manager for Sears. Mike holds WQA Master Water Specialist and Minnesota Master Water Conditioner certifications. He is active in the water treatment industry as well as local state and city organizations, currently serving on the WQA Board of Directors, Past President of the Minnesota WQA, Vice Chair of the Minnesota Plumbing Board and President of the Owatonna, MN, Chamber of Commerce. Mike is active on other Culligan, WQA & MWQA committees.

John Griesbach, MWS

Diamond H2O

John Griesbach has been involved with Diamond H2O since 2002, working in numerous roles including salt delivery, field service, installations, customer service, purchasing, product development and sales. He currently serves as Vice President of the family-owned manufacturer of residential and commercial water treatment systems. John is a WQA Master Water Specialist, a Licensed Pump Installer, a Journeyman Restricted Appliance Plumber and MRA (Institute of Management) Certified. His involvement with WQA includes serving on the Board of directors since 2022, as the RISE board liaison, and on the Water Sciences Committee since 2016. John also is board chair for the Fox West YMCA in Greenville, WI.


The Regents Award is presented to an individual, or group of individuals, who has made a significant contribution at the state or local level working with issues affecting the industry such as ethics, legislation, or educational efforts.

David Davies, CWS

Aqua General, Inc.

David A. Davies has been in the residential, commercial and industrial water treatment business for more than 30 years, currently serving as president of Aqua General, Inc., of Houston, TX. He is a WQA Certified Water Specialist and a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality-licensed Water Treatment Specialist Class III. David’s experience in branch management positions for US Filter and Culligan, and as a dealership owner for Puronics and Rayne, inspire him to improve quality of life and health in peoples’ homes, while providing a critical ingredient to manufacturing and beverage production. In 2022 he received the Texas WQA Man of the Year award.

Bob Ruhstorfer, MWS

RS Water Holdings, LLC

A former WQA President, Bob Ruhstorfer began his career in water treatment working for his father in the family business in Marlette, MI. In 1998, he became president of RainSoft/Aquion. After Aquion was sold to a private equity firm, Bob tried retirement in 2008 but says it “didn’t take.” Now he operates five Culligan dealerships in Texas. Bob has a WQA Master Water Specialist certification and currently serves as a member of Water Quality Research Foundation’s board. In 2007, he received WQA’s International Award of Merit, and in 2009, the WQA Lifetime Membership Award. Bob is former president of the Culligan Dealer Association of North America.


This award may be presented to more than one individual, company, or organization in recognition of exceptional service given to the water quality improvement industry.

Allan Horner, MWS

Impact Water Products

E. Allan Horner, Technical Director for Impact Water Products, is past President of the Pacific WQA. He travels the world doing training seminars, trade shows and product presentations based on 35 years in water quality, with an extensive backgorund in field service, repair and installation of residential, commercial and industrial systems.  Allan spent 10 years working with USP and WFI water systems, cooling towers, steam boilers and industrial water and is well versed when it comes to softeners, filters, boilers, commercial reverse osmosis, pharmaceutical applications, car washes, hotels and just about any other water filtration or general maintenance challenge you may encounter. He holds a WQA Master Water Specialist certification.

Jennifer Smith, CWS


Jennifer Smith has worked in the water treatment industry for 19 years. She is a Sales Representative with ResinTech – Aries Filterworks and formerly was President of Moti-Vitality.  Jennifer is Chair of WQA’s Technical Education Task Force and serves on the Business Operations Training Committee, WIN Advisory Council, and Professional Certification and Training Committee.  A WQA Certified Water specialist, she has mentored many women in the industry and currently is part of WQA’s Leadership Initiative. She also serves on the Michigan WQA board. Jennifer’s passion for the water treatment industry is fueled by making a difference in people’s lives with clean water and sharing that passion with other WQA members.


This award may be presented to more than one individual, company, or organization in recognition of exceptional service given to the water quality improvement industry internationally.

Andrey Mitchenko, Ph.D.


Andrey Mitchenko is a Ukrainian entrepreneur and second-generation water technology engineer. His Ph.D. thesis focused on the purification of surface and underground water from humic compounds and iron. Andrey is co-owner and CEO of Ecosoft, a partner of BWT Group, which joined WQA in 2010. Since 1991 Ecosoft has manufactured water purification products from production and distribution facilities in Ukraine, Belgium, Italy and United Kingdom.  Shortly after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the company’s factory was destroyed by Russian bombing. Andrey and his team managed to restart and rebuild the business to its original capacity and refocus on emergency water supply and international distribution.


This award is given to the individual whose occupation is outside the industry, but whose contributions to mankind, through research, education, or exemplary service in or related to water quality, are meritorious.

Thomas J. Harrington

Primo Water (retired)

Thomas J. Harrington was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Primo Water in 2019 and served in that role until his 2023 retirement. Previously he held various roles with DS Services, including CEO, prior to their 2014 acquisition by Primo Water. Before joining DS Services in 2004, Tom held numerous positions including Vice President and General Manager of Coca-Cola Enterprises New York and Chicago divisions, and served in various sales and marketing roles with Pepperidge Farms. He is a former member of the WQA Board of Directors and also has served on the boards of directors of the National Automatic Merchandising Association and the International Bottled Water Association.


This award is presented to one or more individuals, at or under 40 years of age, who have engaged and demonstrated a commitment to the betterment of the water treatment industry.

Kathryn Fisher

A.O. Smith

Kathryn Fisher joined AO Smith’s North America Water Treatment as a Certification Specialist in July 2021, responsible for certification and regulatory requirements for all NAWT products. She brings many years of experience working directly with water filtration regulatory agencies and has vast knowledge of the certification standards used in the industry. Previously, she worked as regulatory specialist for Pentair’s flow division. She earned her BS in environmental science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her MS in freshwater science, with an emphasis in water policy and technology, from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

(Manufacturer/Supplier/Retailer Category)

The WQA Excellence Award is designed to underscore WQA’s commitment to improving the lives of others through the betterment of water quality. The award honors those member companies that demonstrate excellence in customer service, business operations, community service, and innovation. It highlights the outstanding accomplishments these member companies have made to the water treatment industry and the communities in which they operate.

Jacobi Carbons, Inc.

Columbus, OH

Jacobi Carbons has served the water treatment industry for decades through activated carbons and ion exchange resins. Because water treatment is the largest application for the company’s products, Jacobi has established a sustainability program through which its hopes to inspire the industry to become more sustainable overall.

Jacobi has a goal of eliminating all fossil fuel-based activated carbons, and so uses coconut shell as the primary raw material for its activated carbons.  The company also optimizes utility and energy usage at its production plants through such measures as rainwater harvesting, wastewater reuse and solar power. The company uses excess heat from its production processes to generate green power, with a goal of reaching net zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The company works in partnership with its customers so they can also use more sustainable practices and has worked with Maastricht University in the Netherlands to conduct a life-cycle assessment of its operations to calculate the overall GHG impact, so the company can actively work to reduce it.

Jacobi’s active Corporate Social Responsibility program has built schools and libraries, provided educational materials, uniforms, sports facilities and hospital care in the communities the company serves around the world.

Performance Water Products

Buena Park, CA

With the combined experience of more than 100 years in water treatment and purification, Performance Water Products takes pride in going above and beyond for the betterment of water quality. In 1992, the same year that Performance Water Products was founded, the company become dedicated Water Quality Association members. Kris, John, Mike and Mat Mecca at Performance Water Products have given back to the industry over and over in time and resources to the Water Quality Association, the Water Quality Research Foundation, and the Pacific Water Quality Association.

From being WQRF Next Wave Campaign donors, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the PWQA PAC fund, supporting employees to serve on WQA committees and in PWQA leadership, to giving their time to share tools and experiences in leading efforts to educate regulators against introducing softener bans. Performance Water Products continues to demonstrate a commitment to improving the lives of others and lifting the industry. 


WQA members who recruit at least three new companies to join WQA in a calendar year are named to the President’s Club.

Roy Esparza, MWS, CI, CWR

Franklin Water Treatment (Puronics)


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