By Nate F. Searing, WC&P Managing Editor
Chester Paul Company
1605 Victory Blvd. • Glandale, CA 91201
Tel: (800) 227-2093; (323) 245-3761
Fax: (818) 240-8804
Email: [email protected]
Owner: Robert Caughron
Revenue: Projected $14 million by the end of 2004
Operation: Distributor of components for a variety of water treatment and water conditioning systems.
Like many longtime water industry professionals, John Heurkins’ career at Chester Paul Company started in the warehouse.
He began stocking for the company in 1979. Heurkins was a 20-year-old student at a local community college at the time, eyeing San Diego for the completion of his college degree because the local University of Southern California campus was too expensive for him to attend.
But Chester Paul Caughron, the founder and then-president of the company, singled out the part-time warehouse worker and helped to push him in a new direction.
“He was a one of a kind man,” Heurkins said. “I think he saw something in me, and he gave me the opportunity to find it myself.”
Caughron offered to pay for Heurkins’ education at the local university, giving him the ability to remain in contact with Chester Paul while continuing school at the more prestigious institution.
“The kicker was that he didn’t expect me to stay at Chester Paul (after graduation),” Heurkins said. “It was simply an act of kindness.”
When he completed his degree in 1982, Heurkins returned to Chester Paul as a sales associate. Since that time, Heurkins has, done every job there is, at Chester Paul, moving up through the ranks and is now the company’s general manager.
When Heurkins began in the warehouse, there were a dozen employees at Chester Paul. While he now oversees an additional nine, Heurkins said he tries to carry on the relationships, fostered by Chester Paul Caughron, that have become a staple for their office. He prides himself on being able to facilitate a positive work environment for all of them.
“Looking at how happy employees are, how interested they are in their work and their work environment, is the fastest and easiest way to gauge the quality of the service we provide to our customers,” Heurkins said.
That effort translates directly into successes for the company, Heurkins said, citing the firm’s $14 million projected revenues at the end of this year. Because of the growth throughout the United States, Chester Paul Company is for the first time exploring the possibility of expanding beyond the Los Angeles area with a facility to serve the East Coast.
“There’s no better place in the world to be located than the Port of L.A. for international shipping,” Heurkins said. “But to better serve our customers back east, that’s an option we’re starting to look at more seriously. It’s not in the near future anywhere, but it is a real testament to how well we’ve been doing supplying dealers across the country.”
Despite distributing products to many of the largest dealers in the country, the company has no plans to start offering full water conditioning systems, instead focusing simply on the components of those systems. The move is a purposeful marketing strategy that assures Chester Paul is not in direct competition with the dealers that it supplies.
“It’s not a place we want to go, both out of respect for our customers and because it sets us apart from some of our competitors,” Heurkins said. “We are content where we are, and we’re growing very well.”