As told to WC&P

Founded in 1987 by Tom Felt in Provo, Utah, Water Tech Industries was purchased by Larry Linton in 1997 and moved to Portland, Oregon. Mark Russell, company President for the last two years and General Manager before that, was happy to tell WC&P about the progress, growth and success the firm has enjoyed.

The company’s mission has always been progressive: to be a world-class leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of water conditioning systems that meet the needs of residential and commercial customers. Water Tech accomplishes this with a greatly expanded product line and more emphasis on customer service. The results of this initiative have been positive overall, with some years better than others: 2006 growth was 20 percent.

The privately owned enterprise distributes its products through an expanding dealership network. The firm provides support materials, sales and service training, dealer financing programs, management training and a lead generation program to more than 100 dealers globally today (it started with six). Internationally, Water Tech’s efforts have been especially successful in the Middle Eastern markets, although that is a mere fraction of the overall business. Negotiations in Greece are in progress and other venues are possible.

“We are all passionate about our business,” said Russell. “Our customers and dealers believe in and are loyal to our products. When we send a contact letter to prospective dealers, we include the names of some current dealers. We want them to call and find out for themselves that we are honest, that the products work as advertised.” The network itself is more like a family, giving Water Tech the ability to craft creative marketing materials and to remain more flexible with the dealers. They present themselves as professionals, with a personal touch. If a dealer needs someone onsite, Russell shows up.

Collaborative effort is a productive standard. “We have a very strong partnership with our dealers. In turn, the dealers become friends with each other, which creates a very tight bond between them and an extensive knowledge base. They routinely share information about specific problems and how to overcome them. If they can’t come up with a solution, they call us and we find someone who can help us work out the problem. We all benefit as a result,” Russell said.

To mark the firm’s two decades of success, Water Tech kicked off a 12-month-long anniversary celebration, beginning with its Annual Dealer Show held earlier this year. The three-day convention was attended by dealers and manufacturing partners from around the country. This year, Felt was on hand to help celebrate the anniversary of the company he founded. “He has other interests and we don’t see him often, but his heart is still with us,” said Russell.

The top 25 dealers were recognized with special ceremonies and individual awards for customer service and performance achievement were presented. Festivities included a dinner cruise in the San Diego harbor, golfing on Coronado Island and a fun-filled day at Sea World. In conjunction with the celebration, the company launched a new website and refreshed its marketing materials, with an eye toward future prospects.

The firm’s full line of NSF- and UL-approved water treatment products includes the Gold Seal-certified Reionator™. Invented by Felt in 1987 and patented in 1989, it is unique to Water Tech. The system uses multi-resins to soften water and reduce aesthetic chlorine taste and odor. The company is so certain of the product that it offers a lifetime warranty on the resin. Equipped with a brine tank to provide a source of dissolved potassium chloride or sodium chloride for resin regeneration, it features an automatic control valve to direct the flow of water during the service and regeneration cycles. Reionator water conditioners are adjustable to meet the efficiency standards of recent environmental legislation as well as customers’ increasing desire to conserve natural resources. They may also be specially engineered to reduce specific unwanted minerals from a given water supply on an individual basis. The system is not intended to serve as a filter for removal of particulate matter, so the company offers other products designed for that purpose.

In the future, Russell sees additional product certification requirements, increased regulation and the need for well-trained water professionals. He believes that WQA’s training and certification programs enhance the credibility of the industry as a whole. “WQA does a very good job of getting involved on the state and local level to make sure the industry is well represented in the legislatures. This is critical to the water industry. WQA’s widespread dissemination of information is also a positive benefit to everyone.”

“Going forward, we’ll grow our business through existing dealers and the adoption of new dealers and meet the needs of both,” Russell noted. “This year we will be introducing several innovative systems, including a uranium removal product and two arsenic systems.” Speaking of certification, Russell plans to take his tests at WQA Aquatech in Orlando later this month, while taking full advantage of the water opportunity show’s offerings. Setting another trend in motion for Water Tech, perhaps?

 

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