Sometimes the history of a company is just as important as its products and services. In 1986, S.E. Lundy remodeled his century-old family home and found that the copper pipes were as thin as paper. Blue-green stains and pinhole leaks were everywhere. Fortunately for Lundy, his co-worker Bill Caudill had a side business: Metro Water Filter Company. The two men discussed the pipe issue and Lundy was convinced to install a manual pH filter.
Fascinated with the filtration process, Lundy soon started selling and installing filters for Caudill on a part-time basis; in 1989 he started his own water business. He was passionate about water filtration. “It was almost an obsession for my father,” said youngest son and company spokesman Robert ‘Lee’ Lundy. “On one family vacation to St. Augustine, Florida, my father forgot his clothes… but had packed a trunk full of water filtration books to read. He even took pictures of every installation to show potential customers the type of work the company did.”
Lee and his brother Alan joined their father in the growing business. They helped install and service water filters at night, on weekends and during the summer. “Everyone got involved,” Lee said. “As with most small businesses, each family member did what they could to help out. We would all answer the phone from time to time; I can remember my grandmother Irene, well into her 70s, answering the phone and diagnosing water problems, even quoting prices to the customers. We had all listened to my father talk about filtration so much that it became second nature.”
The senior Lundy didn’t push his sons to stay with the family business; in fact, he insisted they have another trade just in case. Both followed this advice, Lee going on to college to become a computer programmer, while Alan went into the printing business.
The torch is passed
Lee returned to the family enterprise part-time when his father was diagnosed with cancer. Shortly thereafter, he left the corporate world for what he called a very interesting and rewarding career in water filtration in 2004. “Over the past 20 years, I’ve done every job here, from sweeping the floors to selling filters,” Lee explained. He quickly put his information technology skills to good use, developing the company’s database, building a website and creating sales literature. He also began rebuilding sales revenues to previous levels and beyond. Brother Alan keeps his hand in the business, providing the necessary printed materials.
Lee achieved another milestone after his father’s death, earning his CWS-1 certification. He is currently pursuing Certified Installer certification and plans to seek higher specialist ratings in the future. “In this part of the country, hard water isn’t the dominant concern except in the lake areas. More problematic are iron, iron bacteria, hydrogen sulfide and low pH, requiring more professional attention,” said Lee. “When customers call, they talk directly to me and they appreciate the knowledgeable service that we provide.”
The company specializes in residential water filtration, including light commercial systems for some of the larger estate homes. Serving 14 Georgia counties, including the mid-state area, the company has two trucks, one installation van and a truck dedicated to freight. Lee and his wife Kellie run the business together; she handles the office management and bookkeeping responsibilities. “It really benefits us to have Kellie’s skills though she refuses to learn to service the filters. I keep trying to convince her, but it hasn’t worked yet,” he noted. The third employee is T. A. Haney, a dedicated and hard-working retiree who has been assisting with installation and service for nine years. When business is brisk, Lee prefers to work additional hours to keep his customers happy, though he does consider adding an employee in the future. “We’re at the point where I need to hire someone, but I’m picky about who will be right for us,” Lee explained.
Tradition of success
Lee sees a positive future for the business. “After reviewing several dealership options, I easily concluded that what we have works fine for us. We assemble everything ourselves and we know exactly what we are installing,” he explained. “We search for the best components possible and assemble them into application-specific filters. This allows us to provide the best systems at the best price and to offer a 100 percent, money-back guarantee on everything we install.”
“A company that is not growing is dying. That’s not us,” Lee said. “We’re still expanding, now at an even, regulated pace. This enables us to give personalized and reliable service to our customers. We’ve seen competitors go out of business because of poor decisions; most can be attributed to growing too fast or putting profits before people. Profits keep the business running, but without the people, the profits never come in.”
The family traditions at the heart of the business remain constant. Lee continues to maintain the standards set by his father, striving to make customer service more than a transaction. He also remembers and honors a promise he made to him: to look after the multitude of consumers who became more than customers, his father’s ‘filter friends’. Pictures are taken of every installation and placed in photo albums. Even the original filter is regularly serviced, though the old family homestead was sold in 2003. Success in this Georgia water filtration business is measured steadily over the years.