By Denise M. Roberts
In 1969, Phillip ‘Phil’ Rhodes, Sr. moved to Omaha, NE and purchased the service files for a garbage disposal sales company; the seller insisted that he also take the water softener files. In a very short time, Rhodes recognized the potential of the water treatment business. Over the years, all of the owners of Futuramic’s have delivered salt, learned to service all brands of water softeners, and estimate and sell commercial and residential water systems.
Phil Sr. and Phil, Jr.
Looking back over the years, Rhodes offered his insight on what has been most challenging for the company. “In the early days, there were many dishonest and unreliable water dealers in our area. It made everyone look bad. We had to work twice as hard to overcome the bad image those few created. We have been pleased to see the improvement of ethics and professionalism in our area and in the industry as a whole. Our commitment to going the extra mile for our customers has led to rapid growth (growing from four to 15 employees in the last 20 years), expanding the service area and increasing rental units. Challenges arose as a result, including reorganizing with growth, managing cash flow and continuing to provide a high level of customer service. We got through by hiring and relying on excellent employees, establishing relationships with top-notch suppliers and moving from a large nationwide bank to a local, small business-friendly bank.”
Futuramic’s Clean Water Center is preparing for a changing dynamic in the water industry. “The future looks bright,” said Rhodes. “Consumers are becoming more educated and more interested in health and the environment. Also, more people are being made aware of the need for water treatment through online resources, the media and national advertising. One caveat, though: with information comes misinformation. One of our challenges will be to provide an accurate, consistent message and help consumers sort through the avalanche of conflicting data. To offset the flood of online and big-box equipment, dealers will have to become more than equipment suppliers. There seem to be number of exciting prospects in the area of new technology, based on what we’re seeing in trade publications and at WQA Aquatech. If we are to be successful as dealers, we need to keep up on the latest advances and be ready to offer the newest and best when they are ready for the market. We will need to become a resource to our customers that they can rely on to answer questions, solve problems and be available when they need us.
“To meet these emerging issues, we’ve increased efforts in both conventional and web/social media marketing. With a new focus on sales, we hired a sales manager, our first employee that is dedicated to sales. Our intent is to build a sales team to market our experience and products in the areas we service.”