By Denise M. Roberts

Pure Water Oasis, Inc.
411 E. 23rd St. S.
Independence, MO 64055
Tel: 816-254-3335
Fax: 816-254-3336
Website: www.mypurewateroasis.com E-mail: [email protected] Employees: Five
Vehicles: Two

Rex and Penny Curtis, owners of family-owned and operated Pure Water Oasis, Inc. since 2004, serve the Kansas City metropolitan area, rural areas around Kansas City and as far south as Branson, MO. They enjoy installing residential systems to help homeowners with health and plumbing issues, but also enjoy big commercial system installations as well. Ownership offers the Curtis family the added benefit of training employees in the latest technologies and on the newest, exciting equipment being rolled out.

Rex Curtis decided if he was going to be a water professional, he should become the best he could be. “I earned my first WQA certification in 2005 and I’m now a CWS-III,” said Rex. “Personally, I’ve been blessed to get to know some guys who were willing to share their wealth of knowledge. Cliff Aldridge of Wood Bros. Industries, John Piasecki with Clack Corp. and Mark Russell at Water Tech are just a few who’ve helped along the way. What we haven’t learned in a seminar, we’ve learned from these pros on the phone. With support like that, it is hard to fail.”

Before joining the water treatment industry, Rex was a floor man (literally) and Penny’s background was dental assistant then office manager. “Penny has come a long way and is now a business owner, office manager, bookkeeper, appointment setter, and takes care of billing and receivables,” said Rex. “She is constantly looking for ways for fer from skin problems,” said Curtis. “One customer had endured dry, itchy skin for decades, and had used every cream, lotion, potion she could get her hands on, but noth- ing worked.She called to have me test their water wondering if that was the problem. We put in a SoftMax Plus (softener/chlorine us to make improvements and expand the business. She is also my boss, with 51-percent ownership in the company!”

A rocky beginning
“In January 2004, I told Penny I had to get out of the flooring business,” Rex said. After 20-plus years, the work had taken a toll on his body.“ I knew I didn’t have 20 more years in me on the floor. At the time, we were customers of Pure Water Products, where I would buy water to take home. In February, the owner wanted to sell the store and by June, we were in the water business and renamed the company Pure Water Oasis.”

One of the biggest challenges came early. The previous business owner was gone in a couple of weeks. “We had never gone out on a service call together or worked on the equipment together at the store. He just wanted out. Everything Penny and I learned, we had to figure out ourselves. The only thing I knew was that I liked good, clean water, and we had a water softener at home. I grew up with extremely bad skin allergies and my doctor advised my parents to install a water softener to help my skin. When I built our house, we had rural hard water and I noticed that my skin rash was returning. So I plumbed in a big-box store system. As always, it didn’t last long, but by then we owned our company and installed a high-quality, high-efficiency system. Having first-hand experience of the benefits of softened water makes it easier to promote our products to customers.

“Some of the best installations of systems have been for people who are themselves suffering or have children who suffer from skin problems,” said Curtis. “One customer had endured dry, itchy skin for decades, and had used every cream lotion, potion she could get her hands on, but nothing worked. She called to have me test their water wondering if that was the problem. We put in a SoftMax Plus (softner/chlorine reducer)  and I was so confident, I told her I would come back in 30 days to take it out and provide a full refund if it didn’t help. Sure enough, when I arrived 30 days later to see if she wanted the system removed, she replied, ‘Don’t you dare touch that thing! For the first time in years I feel normal!’ We laughed and I left, looking forward to seeing her each year for service.”

The results of their efforts haven’t always been so positive, often due to poor planning on the part of the customer. “The worst situation involved a customer with well water,” Rex said.”We tried everything to treat the water, based on what they could afford, but they ended up running rural water to the home.The well water contained extreme amounts of sodium mixed with sulfur and it was a mess! The customer had exhausted their funding on building the home and drilling a well; they didn’t save anything to treat the nasty water. I felt my hands were tied with their budget.”

Solutions to problems
In and around Kansas City, MO, problematic water is quite common. City water is hard and full of chlorine (at levels 2.1 mg/L and sometimes more), which is above the level needed in a swimming pool. “I like using UV sterilization and ozone for disinfection and sterilization,” Curtis said. “Chlorine is just too toxic for our bodies and has long-lasting implications. In rural areas outside of the city, there are also many water quality issues that require treatment options, from iron to nitrates, sulfur, manganese and the dreaded sodium.We treat most of these problems with systems supplied by Water Tech Industries. We also have residential systems to handle city water in one tank, using two different medias. We enjoy tremendous success using KDF 85, mixed in a cation bed to mitigate sulfur odor and hardness in well water.”

More recently, Pure Water Oasis entered the bottle-less cooler market, which promises to be a good revenue stream; many customers don’t want to store, handle and lift those 40-pound, five-gallon bottles. The company has also branched out into commercial markets, installing a water conditioner and environmental brine recovery system at Arctic Glacier Ice in North Kansas City, and a softener system for the Big Cedar wilderness club lodge in Branson.

Maintaining momentum
Providing solutions for the region’s broad spectrum of water problems in a tough economy requires the company to employ diverse and competent multitaskers. “We have a consistent revenue through our water delivery service, and customers love our delivery driver, David Vaughn. We have many customers who are enjoying quality water, which makes us very happy.

“We are happy to see the industry promoting more environmentally friendly solutions because we believe that water softeners are the greenest of all the appliances in a home. We should all be good stewards of this beautiful planet! We are also concerned about safe water in developing nations, and we are pleased that WQA and the World Health Organization continue to seek solutions for less fortunate populations. Perhaps we’ll be part of the solution in the future.”

To keep this kind of momentum, especially in a smaller company, goal-setting is important. “We believe in writing down our goals to make each employee responsible and accountable for meeting those goals,” said Rex. “We are looking to the future, hoping to double the size of our delivery and POU customer base in five years. This will allow us to hire another driver to handle the increased volume. We also are looking to increase the sales staff for POU and water softeners. Staying competitive also means attending WQA-sponsored seminars, learning more about the industry and finding better ways to bring the products to our customers. We have been rewarded with a national number-one rating for customer service for Water Tech Industries. That is a primary and continuing goal for our company. By striving to reach the peaks, we can endure the valleys that are often a part of doing business.”

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