By Denise Roberts
Tri Palm International, LLC
265 North Hamilton Road
Columbus, OH 43213
Size: 120,000 sq ft
Size: 50,000 sq ft
A paladin for troubled waters
Chris Gurreri specializes in jumping into troubled organizations, turning the tide from chaos to stability, growth and profitability. Prior to joining Oasis, he served as President of U.S. Fence, Inc. Within two years, that company became one of the top 10 fence installation businesses in the country. Previously Vice President of Marketing at Black & Decker/Dewalt, Gurreri was pivotal in establishing DeWalt’s sponsorship of the NASCAR Nextel Cup team, featuring driver Matt Kenseth.
Gurreri had been President and Chief Executive Officer of Oasis Corporation for a mere four months when Patriarch Funds, an equity investment firm, acquired the Oasis brand (including name, intellectual property and other assets) in August 2005. The newly formed company is called Tri Palm international. According to their press release, Patriarch’s choice was based on Oasis’ history, superior quality and long-standing place of leadership in the water cooler and bottled water dispenser markets.
“Our phone number is (614) 861-1350 and my extension is 1220,” the company President and CEO announced near and far. “I want anyone in the water industry who may have a question or doubt about the viability and future of Oasis products to give me a call,” offers Gurreri. “Just make sure you have some time to spend. I’d love to talk with you and tell you about all the great things going on here. And I want you to know that we’re here to help you with customer service and technical support. Those aren’t just words I use. That’s my promise to you and the industries we serve.”
Retooling for profitability
Gurreri recognized the immediate need for changes to ensure the long-term viability of Tri Palm. He started by carefully rebuilding most of the management team, which in turn, quickly restarted manufacturing operations, repaired some wounded key supplier relationships, eliminated a substantial inherited sales backlog and began rebuilding customer confidence. “We’ve taken an aggressive approach to streamlining operations, remove excess expenses, build inventory levels while maintaining quality and to re-establish and maintain the reputation for customer service that has differentiated Oasis over the last 95 years,” Gurreri said.
Tri Palm’s stated mission is to be the market leader in water dispensing equipment for different segments of the water industry. From multiple cooler types to undersink water filtration systems, the product line is extensive. Restarting production and winning back the confidence of customers was a major challenge during the transition phase but demand for Oasis products was never an issue. Even when circumstances caused the former Oasis Corporation’s notes to be called by the secured lenders, product demand didn’t decline.
The company evaluated its manufacturing capacity and streamlined worldwide operations in two state-of-the-art facilities in Monterrey, Mexico and Gliwice, Poland plus a finished product warehouse in McAllen, Texas. The company’s European division, Oasis Europe, is headed by Peter Benua in Ballina, Ireland.
All prior backorders were successfully addressed by the company, which has spent the past several months building inventory across all product lines. New products, scheduled for introduction on a regular basis, are already in the pipeline. Full replacement parts are available for all models and an experienced in-house technical service department is eager to help customers with repair or servicing questions.
An Oasis of success
It’s been just over nine months since the asset purchase and in that brief time, Gurreri and his team have worked diligently to restore the Oasis brand to leadership status in the industry. “We know that some people remain skeptical. Frankly, negative rumors are still out there. We inherited a significant backorder situation when the transition occurred. We couldn’t deliver and customers had to turn to other sources. I want to assure our current customers, potential customers and the industries we serve that Oasis products are in stock and available and are backed by professionals who know the industry inside and out,” Gurreri says confidently. “Oasis was a company people depended on and trusted for years. We are working to earn their trust and support once again and we have everything in place to make that happen. We’re glad to be back in the business of serving our customers.”
Gurreri believes water conditioning will be more important as greater threats to water sources emerge. Regulation will continue to escalate, he believes, creating an environment for water equipment providers to work closely with water suppliers to ensure clean water is available when and where people need it.