As Important as the Water We Drink Is the Air We Breathe
There is no doubt that the prolonged presence of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to make risky, drastic changes, some being more successful than others. But with help from the flexibility and expertise of Ryan Richie, HealthWay Family of Brands took the initiative to adapt and ultimately triumph in these especially hard times. “At HealthWay Family of Brands, we understand the value of healthier air,” Richie says. HealthWay has had an advantage with the times because it manufactures technology to improve air quality. The company’s goal is to provide the best solutions in air quality, focusing on the ability to filter and kill airborne ultrafine particles that can carry infectious diseases, but Richie says: “It wasn’t until a global pandemic that people started to realize the need and benefit of healthier indoor air, as it relates to ultrafine particles.”
HealthWay is a family-owned, faith-based company that specializes in technology to keep indoor air clean and filter out particles that could make people sick. Founded in 1989, the company began producing many different technologies in air quality. It wasn’t until 2003 that HealthWay commercialized their patented DFS technology and started offering it through a network of educated dealers.
Though Richie is not related to the clan, he says he is “family by sweat, not by blood.” He began working at HealthWay 16 years ago after meeting the executive of the company. Richie was particularly intrigued by the products they manufactured and knew it was something he wanted to ‘get behind.’ He had a background in direct home sales and began at HealthWay as an independent dealer.
After finding its niche in the water conditioning and purification industry, Richie was brought on to have a more direct role in the company. He went through several sales positions and worked his way up to his current status as Executive VP. Today, most of his time is spent training and educating water professionals on how to incorporate air purification into their businesses.
Richie prides the company on being vertically integrated and ready to give their all to any product or person with whom they are dealing. “We have built a reputation around manufacturing the most innovative technologies available in this space,” Richie says. Though HealthWay may not be the leader (in size) of their field, being the leader in technology is surely enough of which to be proud.
With the uncertainty and challenges faced in the era of COVID-19, HealthWay had to adapt to unprecedented demand from markets that had not previously been focused on or anticipated. The team at HealthWay Family of Brands, led by CEO Vince Lobdell, navigated the company through these changes. They had to tweak their focus on what was relevant and necessary for the times and therefore, planned a new strategy for a COVID world. At the same time, they needed to keep a focus on their valued dealer network that was also facing increasing demands from their customers. “Providing our equipment to the front lines fighting COVID-19 is perhaps one of the greatest honors our team could be a part of,” Richie says. “Supplying hospitals from NYC to Dubai, Greece and the epicenter in Wuhan was certainly a logistical and supply strain, but we were glad to be a part of the solution.”
HealthWay was dubbed an essential business and was granted a waiver that kept them operating and open for their customers. The grant made it possible to correspond and take proper action to supply hospitals with high-end, air-quality technology in measure as never before. To do all of this, they had to double the staff, triple production and figure out how to respond quickly to shifting demands.
They are recommitting to the needs of their partners “to provide air purification equipment to the next battle front: homeowners,” he says. “It’s crazy. We have been in overdrive to keep up with the global demand for our systems.” But despite the insanity that Richie and his colleagues have gone through with at this time, there are many blessings in disguise. Through everything, the company’s partners responded with grace and leniency. “We could not be more grateful for their understanding and acceptance of longer lead times and shipping surcharges,” Richie says.
Richie says the next step for HealthWay now is to “expand our dealerships and reinforce relationships with the current partners we have. We have committed to a massive increase in production to fulfill these needs and want to extend an invitation to any water dealers who have thought of adding air purification to jump feet first into this space with us.” Richie says they need professional dealers to embrace their new model and be a part of the solution. “Utilizing our 16-year track record of supporting the water industry and armed with current data, the air purification market is going to take off,” he says. They will continue to encourage people to think of air purification as a necessity and only accept the highest-quality products that will fit their market.
Richie sees a lot of potential on the horizon, for how the water treatment industry will move forward and up from here. He believes that in addition to changes in the air-quality industry, “this will be a tipping point for the water treatment industry to be more transformative” and that there will be more “rapid expansion into using air-quality technology as well.” He considers that because of everything happening in an ongoing COVID-impacted world, people will be more aware of the need for cleaner, healthier air. This will mean expansion of the air purification industry. Because of that, however, there will be an increase in misleading data and dubious marketing claims from other companies that are simply looking to jump on the wagon and take whatever ‘piece of the pie’ they can get, as Richie describes it.
To be aware of the market and be educated on the products themselves is what HealthWay asks of their clients. “Make no mistake, the air purification industry is seeing rapid and massive growth as consumer demand continues to grow. We have always believed in an industry that prides itself on educating consumers on wellness solutions for the home,” Richie says. “After all, as important as the water we drink is the air we breathe. Wouldn’t you agree?”