By Denise M. Roberts
Fernando Castello, who was born and raised in Mexico, grew up knowing about the value and necessity of drinking water filters. But it wasn’t until later in life that he thought it might be a good career path. At the beginning of his quest for the appropriate venue, Castello focused on bottled water, but in the end, he chose to pursue POU/POE water treatment. After researching several companies, he met Don Miller of RainSoft. Discussions about the industry simplified Castello’s choices about what direction to proceed.
In 1996, Castello helped start Lifetime Water Systems, Inc., an independently owned water treatment company that serves the greater Toronto area. The owner, Dennis Lynch, hired him specifically to help get the company up and running. Lynch had several offices already, mainly in Quebec and wanted to expand in Ontario. Castello purchased the company in January 1997 and is the current President.
Lifetime Water Systems sells water conditioners, whole-house carbon units, RO and air filters. They also offer a full line of biodegradable soaps. “I will never say that the city water is bad for you,” noted Castello. “What I say is that there is city water and Lifetime Water Systems’ water; we let the customer be the judge of which one is better for them.”
To better serve their customers, service, marketing and sales associates all go through a comprehensive training program. Several sales and service technicians have also earned Canadian Water Quality Association certification. “I spend most of my time talking to co-workers about production and personal growth,” said Castello. “Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that you have helped someone to be better. If your efforts contribute to helping consumers with getting great drinking water, it’s a winning combination.”
“One of the biggest difficulties can be dealing with public water works employees who often think that the only goal water dealers have is to scare people about their water,” he continued. “I believe our job is simply to show the difference between good water and great water and let the presentation do the talking. Having said that, one of the best situations is making those employees realize that we can coexist peacefully in our respective roles to enhance water quality for consumers.”
While the global economic situation has had an impact, having a solid company with solid management has helped the company survive. “Most of those bad days are now in our past,” Castello said. “We are returning to levels of success and productivity we enjoyed a few years ago. We have plans to reach $10 million (USD) in annual sales within the next two years. It’s a challenge but we should be able to reach our goal. I can see our industry growing, which it is. But with all good things, there are some challenges. One of them is the emergence of a lot of new fly-by-night companies with questionable ethics and practices. I always insist customers do business with companies that belong to either CWQA or WQA.“