By Denise M. Roberts

Commonwealth Water Purification Co., Inc.
135 Gardner Rd.
Winchendon, MA 01475
Tel: (978) 297-2167
Fax: (978) 297-1739
www.commonwtr.com
[email protected]
Employees: Two

Roger and Cynthia Boucher are a remarkable couple with the fortitude to handle whatever comes their way. That’s why they are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year as a family-owned and operated business that is also an S Corporation.

“We got involved in the industry because it fits my chemistry background and I took specific water quality courses at a local university before opening the business,” said Cynthia. She has an undergraduate degree in chemistry and Roger is a licensed plumber in the state of Massachusetts. “Roger became a plumber specifically to install water filters—he doesn’t do any other plumbing,” said Cynthia. “We felt that there was a need in our area because we built a new home and had a problem with iron. At the time, there were only two water companies in our area. When we had them come to our home to discuss ways in which to remediate the iron in the water, we were not impressed with them and felt that a company with more knowledge and customer appreciation would be an asset to our area. In the 80s, we felt that water would become a very important issue for most people in the future (and how true was that!) and we felt that we had the knowledge to educate the public about the importance of clean water for their use. So, we ended up starting our business.”

Commonwealth Water Purification offers service within a 60-mile radius of Winchendon and the business is run from the Boucher home. “About 98 percent of our business is residential, though we do have commercial/industrial clients also,” said Cynthia. Some of the major water issues are iron, manganese, iron bacteria, low pH, arsenic and radon. A few areas also have hard water. “We offer a variety of systems for our customers and we consider every inquiry to be a consultation,” Cynthia emphasized. “We custom design a system for the homeowner based on their water quality problems, but also take into consideration their lifestyle. For example, for iron removal, the homeowner can consider a water softener or an aeration system. If they do not want to bother with maintenance issues, such as buying salt, then aeration or an ozone system would be best for them; both are considered no-maintenance filters. We are not a franchise dealership, so we are not limited by what we can recommend and we find this to be advantageous.”

There are several products Commonwealth offers, based on the specific problem; i.e. ozone for iron bacteria; neutralizing filters or chemical feed systems to treat low pH; for arsenic, a Solmetex arsenic remediation system and to treat radon, the Bubble-Up radon system. “We mix and match whatever filters are necessary to resolve the homeowners problems,” Cynthia said. “We do not use high-pressure sales tactics. We are proud of our objective to inform our customers on how each system operates and we let them know their options. We feel that an informed consumer makes the best choices and it benefits both them and us overall.”

Some problems, though, can’t be resolved easily for the customer. “We had a customer who had 44 mg/L of iron in his water,” said Cynthia. “We installed a variety of commercial-size filters that resolved his problem, though there was significant maintenance. We told the customer up front that he had a major problem with this level of iron, but we worked with him and were happy that it resolved his issues.”

“Truly, the biggest problem that has always plagued our industry is unscrupulous fly-by-night dealers,” Cynthia noted. “They set up shop, charge outrageous prices for their equipment and then just close down. We get numerous calls from people who, unfortunately, bought from these dealers and then no longer can get service. In many cases, the filters that have been purchased are not appropriate for the problems that the homeowner has encountered. It definitely is a black eye for the industry.”

Returning to forward motion
As with most water treatment specialists, more recent times have presented the most difficult issues from the business standpoint. “The biggest challenge has been from 2008 through 2011 with the housing market being so poor,” Cynthia noted. “Our business decreased 40 percent during that time and it was difficult, at best. Fortunately, the housing market is better in 2012 and we feel that the worst is over. You just continue to offer the best service and sales to your customers and hope that it is enough to make it through. We’ve always ‘bent over backwards’ for our customers and we have a great reputation in our field, so this helped us to make it through those very difficult four years. We’ve also done business with a local water analysis laboratory in our area for the last 30 years and they recommend us to their customers. This has been a tremendous help for our business. We always recommend that our customers have their water tested by an independent laboratory. In this situation, we offer to bring the water sample to the lab free of charge, which makes us the first company to propose ways to resolve the homeowners problems.”

Cynthia offered her insights on the future of the company and the industry as a whole. “The industry seems to be getting smaller and smaller as far as manufacturing companies (with the smaller ones being bought out by the larger ones), so there seems to be fewer options available at times,” said Cynthia. “I have to say, though, that most companies are keeping up with changes in the industry. For example, with the reduction in the US EPA standard for arsenic, a whole new business has come about with specialty resins for arsenic removal. The same was true for radon a few years ago. We will continue to provide excellent service to our customers and hopefully, build our customer base. We always stay on top of what is new in the industry and learn as much as we can about new equipment and technologies. Between my background as a chemist and Roger’s plumbing knowledge, we work as a team to increase our knowledge and provide state-of-the-art water filtration for our customers.”

 

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