By Karen R. Smith
Hydrotech, A Division of WaterGroup, Inc.
9848 Glenoaks Boulevard
Sun Valley, CA 91352
Tel: (818) 768-0650; Fax (818) 768-0140
Edwin L. Roberts, CWS-IV, Sales Director
email: [email protected]
Ed Roberts almost didn’t join the water treatment and purification industry at all. He was getting ready for his close up on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous as part of a multi-level marketing organization where he was assured he would make his first billion dollars. “Instead, while in the process of building my ‘down line’ I ran across PURA, Inc., a fledgling new company in Provo, Utah founded by Ellis Anderson and John Knight,” he recalls.
The rest, as they say, is history. Roberts was immediately captivated by Anderson and Knight’s combination carbon and ultraviolet (UV) light technology. While he had started to learn the basic concepts of carbon filtration in his former job, as well as its positive effects on drinking water, he realized PURA was on to something new. “I was totally impressed and could think of nothing else for two straight days. I found their technology invading my every thought, so I contacted them for a job selling their great product.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t going to be that easy. The first obstacle was to satisfy Roberts’ need for a paycheck, but PURA was still too new to afford salaried help. Thanks to his exceptional negotiating skills, Roberts secured a straight commission position (and, one presumes, the best wishes of Anderson and Knight!).
With a list of U.S. water treatment dealers, a telephone and a second (paying) job, Roberts started to make sales calls. “After two weeks at eight hours a day, I earned my first paycheck: $118 before taxes,” he says.
He built momentum and subsequently, each check surpassed the one before, increasing until he was making more money than the President of the company. “ FYI, most Presidents do not like this and consequently my payscale was redefined. In fact, it was redefined three times for the very same reason, but I had momentum,” Roberts states.
Somewhere in his second year with the company his title got changed to Vice President and the promotion came with full responsibility over domestic tradeshows, travel and marketing.
In 1995 PURA was purchased by Hydrotechnology, Inc., a fully integrated manufacturer of reverse osmosis (RO) systems. A handful of Utahans were asked to move to Southern California and integrate with the existing Hydrotech team. Roberts’ new responsibilities there evolved into overseeing the customer service and sales departments, which included international sales and a new line of products to promote.
“In 1998, USFilter purchased Hydrotech and before selling us to our current owners (Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Inc.) they began to merge Hydrotech and WaterGroup, a company headquartered in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. With the combining of expertise (Water Group’s in water conditioning and Hydrotech’s in UV and RO), we now had the ability to offer a full line of products to our dealers—a network that extended into 90 countries,” he explains.
Today, Roberts serves as Director of Sales for the Western U.S. and International Markets, a post that has afforded him an excellent view of the importance of this industry throughout the world. It has also provided him with a great appreciation for the industry’s ability to make water safe and thereby improve the lifestyles of people everywhere. He has traveled to 55 countries, many of them underdeveloped and cherishes the experiences. “I can tell you that there is a special feeling of satisfaction when you see people receive safe running water for the very first time,” he says.
Roberts has had a ringside seat at the mergers and consolidations that have marked the water treatment and purification sector during the past dozen years and feels confident about its future. “This industry has a great upside with a lot of opportunities and will only grow bigger. Water is our most important resource and innovative technologies our greatest tool—both will allow us more access and productivity throughout the world.”