By Denise M. Roberts
Many companies are multi-generational while others primarily employ family members. J&J Pumps, Inc. does both. The corporation boasts three generations, led by President John Hale, his wife Dolly as CFO and Treasurer, and son-in-law, Cyrus Herrera, Sr., Vice President. Herrera, driving force in the company nearly from its start, is responsible for day-to-day operations. Also on staff are John and Dolly’s daughter Diane Herrara, granddaughter Trista and daughter Linette Herrera, wife of Cyrus, Sr., and their children, (Cyrus, Jr. and Annie, Nina and Garret Mills). Nephew Chico Farias round out the family group. The company considers those not related by blood as close enough to be family, making a comprehensive team that prides itself in keeping the business successful. Professionals in the field, which comprise about one third of company growth, are hired, though finding good help has been a major challenge. Prospective employees are carefully screened and family members are routinely added to the roster.
Nestled in the small northern California town of Redding, J&J Pumps offer residential and commercial service from Oroville to the Oregon border, with offices in Redding and Yreka. The company also does commercial work in southern Oregon where it also provides service for agricultural businesses. Their service technicians are expert in pump service, water and sewer pumps, and water treatment. New employees learn by on-the-job training while other employees attend a local community college to earn further certifications. Employees also attend Goulds Pumps and Franklin Electric pump training courses. While staff members are not currently WQA certified, they hold licenses as Water Treatment Operator, Grade T2; Water Distribution Operator, Grade D1; certification as Franklin contractors and electric irrigation/industrial experts and are members of the California Groundwater Association and the Goulds Professional Dealer Association.
A different path taken
John Hale didn’t set out to be a water treatment professional but the wave of mill shutdowns in Northern California changed his career path. A supervisor at the local mill, he learned how to use proper plumbing and electrical techniques. When the business was forced to shutdown, he went to work for a local well driller and learned how to install and service pumps, before starting J&J Pumps, Inc. in 1985. The company started as a partnership between Hale and his brother-in-law. More recently, the other half of the company was bought out and J&J Pumps became a corporation.
For Hale, getting involved with the water treatment industry started with pump sales and service 26 years ago. He was happy to expand his company’s offerings to meet a variety of customer needs, including water issues such as hardness, iron, manganese, some arsenic and aluminum. Some have required water softeners while others needed iron filters or reverse osmosis, sediment removal, UV or a combination of treatment options. The worst situation the company encountered was having to clean a well many years previously in which the tenants had dumped used motor oil in the well when they were evicted. This property was 40 yards from the river, making contamination a possibility that had to be addressed quickly and efficiently.
On to better opportunities
According to Hale, water conditioning has a bright future. “In Northern California, we are going to have to take better care of our water as allocations to our southern neighbors leaves less for our region each year. It means using less desirable water, so it’s up to us to keep it clean and potable with treatment. With new technologies and products, we are able every year to do a better job. More demand and less water continues to create both need for our community and opportunity for our company.”
Overall, the broad scope of J&J Pumps gives the business multiple opportunities to provide clients with the best water treatment options available, generating a stream of future customers. Employees continue to train and gain more certifications in water treatment to serve additional commercial clients and a new service vehicle helps to broaden the range of customers to include commercial and ag-lifting needs. For now, though, J&J Pumps focuses on getting through the recession in one piece and finding the best way to deal with increasing regulatory concerns, on both the Federal and state level.