RO founding father mourned
Jack Slovak, considered one of the founding fathers of the RO industry in southern California, passed away July 25 in Reno, NV. From early childhood, he expressed amazing intelligence and talent. The first time Jack’s parents felt trusting and confident enough to leave him and his brother Robert at home while they vacationed, their recently completed basement game room and bar was converted into a university-level laboratory, complete with Tesla coils, Van de Graff generators and all sorts of scientific contraptions. While the other local children were playing football, the Slovak boys were building an aerodynamic smoke tunnel, a Millikan Oil Drop experiment and finally, a linear particle accelerator. At the same time, Jack was also developing what would be a long-standing love of music, especially the piano. By the time he left high school, not only was he giving classical recitals but he had a rock and roll band that featured his Jerry Lee Lewis piano antics.
Slovak attended the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and graduated with degrees in physics and electrical engineering. He then pursued advanced degrees and teaching at the University of Maine. His talents made him an attractive candidate for the early National Security Agency (NSA) and he found himself employed by a team that developed equipment used to spy on Russia and deflect missiles fired at American jets in Vietnam. (By a strange coincidence Jack and Robert ended up working in the very same building at a top-secret defense contractor in Anaheim CA.) After becoming disillusioned with government agencies, the brothers pursued a new interest: the science of water. The pair started Water Factory Systems in the early1970s and had more than 150 employees. WFS became a major force in the advancement of RO technology. It was (and is still considered) the Cadillac-gold standard of residential RO systems. In 1989, the company was bought by Cuno Corporation; Slovak served as VP of product development until 1995, when he supposedly retired. (Today, both Cuno and Water Factory Systems are part of 3M Corporation.)
Slovak stayed involved in the industry over the years, but in the background. His next adventure was investing in the advancement of Brazil’s lagging water treatment infrastructure. The mark he and his brother left on Brazil continues to this day, leaving behind a leading water technology company, a water magazine and new careers for many highly trained individuals. One more thing sparked Slovak’s curiosity and attention: a global health and wellness business based on the health-giving properties of seawater collected from plankton blooms off the coast of France. What started as a small enterprise grew to encompass seawater, as well as other leading-edge health and wellness products. Slovak would be most proud of contributing to the knowledge and careers of many of his wonderful employees and industry associates who have since gone on to become leaders in the water industry.
Slovak is survived by his wife, Lynn; sons Tyler, Seth and Laurence and 11 grandchildren. Services were held in Reno, NV but Slovak was returned to his beloved New Zealand, otherwise known as Aotearoa, as his final resting place. He will be missed by many water treatment industry professionals.