By Carlos David Mogollón, WC&P Executive Editor
APW’s Bechtold Bests the Field
Jerry Bechtold joined the water treatment industry during his senior year in high school, working part-time for a Servisoft dealership in Gary, Ind., in the late ’50s. He wound up as manager of the dealership a few years later and bought it in 1967. Two years after that, he sold it and headed for Florida
In Vero Beach, he opened a retail-assembly dealership that, at its height, had two stores, 1,200 rental accounts and moved 50 softener units a month. Whenever he ran across a problem, he would jot down ideas on equipment and other remedies to solve them in a notebook. In 1980, he decided to launch Automated Pure Water (APW) Inc. to begin putting some of those ideas into production. After his son, Jeffrey, came on board in the mid-’80s to manage the retail operation, he concentrated on manufacturing. He sold the retail side in the early ’90s.
Automated Pure Water, Inc.
4350 5th Street SW
Vero Beach, FL 32968
Tel: (772) 567-2488; Fax (772) 567-2503
Management: Jerry Bechtold, President
Revenues: $1 million annually; doubles every 3-4 years
Operations: Contract manufacturer of a variety of water treatment equipment solutions such as chemical-mixers, retention tanks, chemical feeders, the Super Funnel, Sand Trap, Mineral Extractor and a variety of adapters for different size threaded and unthreaded tanks
“That notebook is what still to this day we’re working off of, though. All of the different, unique things that we’re doing have all come out of that notebook,” Bechtold said.
Today, the business is a $1-million-a-year operation that provides an array of products designed to offer dealers flexibility and unique, simple ways to handle solutions for largely rural water treatment problems. And since production is handled in Taiwan, Bechtold, 62, only employs three people at APW.
“What I’m doing is finding little niches in this market no one has ever bothered to fill,” he said. One is a clear tube-like unit used to expel old resin from a tank using pressure from a garden hose. Another is a baffled tube for mixing chemicals. Then there’s a tank unit for separating and settling out sand, particulate and oxidized organics. Bechtold said he’s discontinuing an inverted-pyramid funnel unit that’s used to feed resin or media into a tank, not to mention many durable adapters he’s developed to allow dealers to assemble systems using just about any tank, threaded or unthreaded.
None of his products have NSF certification because none are completed systems. They’re designed to be integrated into a system, for instance, that incorporates a whole-house carbon filter or softener. Bechtold said he’s not interested in providing softeners or any equipment other than what his company makes.
“My business philosophy—and keep in mind, I’m not trying to make the last buck I can get out of a dealer—is I want to sell products that are my products,” he said. “I don’t want to sell products for which I actually represent another company. All our products are our own ideas and we are responsible for getting them to market one way or another.”
About 30 percent of his business is overseas with most of that for a tablet chlorinator that’s popular in Third World countries because it’s mechanical and requires no power source. His equipment, which is sized only for piping up to 1-1/2 inches, can also be “manifolded” for larger commercial applications such as a recent shipment of eight retention tanks for a hotel-casino project in the Bahamas.