By Denise M. Roberts
Absolute Water System is a first-generation, family-owned water treatment dealership that may be small but accomplishes a great deal. Company owner George Doumit and Scott Dixon serve clients in New Hampshire, most of Massachusetts (excepting the western region) and southern Maine. The company offers residential and commercial services, small community treatment systems and system upgrades. Absolute Water offers a wide range of products, such as the chemical-free airregen for iron, manganese, sediment and sulfur issues; the Bubble-Up system to treat radon in water and LayneRT arsenic remediation systems.
“We have multiple water quality problems in this region, including iron, sulfur smell, arsenic, radon in water and air and uranium issues,” says Doumit. “As an independent dealer with 30-plus years experience in commercial and residential water treatment, I design and assemble my own systems. I’m a certified radon air treatment system installer as well and an authorized 3M dealer.” As an owner-operator, he wears every hat in the company, including trainer for his employees. “I’m looking for a part-time office helper at this point though, to allow me to focus more on sales and marketing.”
Doumit was an electrician by trade, having started in the business while in Lebanon, working with a Culligan dealer in 1981. “I assembled and installed electrical panels for water treatment systems and swimming pools,” he said. “Within two years, I drifted toward water treatment. Then, I moved to New Hampshire in 1988 and worked with a Culligan dealer before starting my own company at the end of 2002. Before starting my own business, I worked with a small outfit as service manager. I’ve seen a lot of bad work and wrong installations, which motivated me to strike out on my own. I got tired of working with a company that didn’t understand the basics of filtration.”
The economy being the biggest challenge for the industry is a continued refrain and Doumit is yet another dealer who has made the best of a bad situation. “I’ve seen more people inquiring about systems than committing,” he said. “As a small company, it’s harder for us to close a deal when competing against a larger company, especially when it comes to commercial jobs, but we manage.” Doumit changed his marketing strategy due to the tough economy. “I started offering more discounts and freebies with whole-house systems, renting road signs, concentrating more on Internet customers and most importantly, joining the BNI networking group. We’ve been getting good referrals and are targeting real estate venues for repeat business.” As business improves, Doumit plans to hire two more technicians and a full-time office employee. He would also like to hire a commission-based salesperson and pursue more commercial accounts.
“I believe the water industry is healthy at this time and, to stay that way, new technology needs to be developed,” Doumit said. “New products, especially environmentally friendly products, should be made more available to water treatment professionals because we have to compete with big-box stores and supply houses. We need to find a separation between those outfits and professionals, and make it harder for them to compete with us. Otherwise, we’re going to see more people working in this industry with no or minimum experience and the water industry will suffer as a result. Ultimately, that means our clients will not be getting what they pay for in the end and the water treatment industry will pay a heavy price.”