By Denise M. Roberts
McBride’s Water Advantage, LLC was established in 2004 by Bill McBride. Centrally located in New Hampshire, the company serves the entire state, with plans to expand service to southern Maine and northern Massachusetts from its current location within the next few years. In addition to serving residential and commercial clients, the company is also a licensed public water systems operator.
”While there are many water issues in New Hampshire, the main water treatment problems include low pH, iron, manganese, hardness, arsenic, radon, uranium, sodium, chloride and bacterial issues. “The three primary whole-house water purification units we use are tried and true,” McBride said. “Acid neutralizers, manganese greensand, iron filters and water softeners. These units clean up the water before we can remove the arsenic and mitigate the radon. We utilize POU RO for kitchen sinks and refrigerators; UV systems for bacterial issues; RE Prescot’s Bubble-Up for radon in water; chlorine injection for an assortment of different reasons and an assortment of specialized media. We also offer whole-house and commercial RO systems for sodium and chloride, uranium and arsenic problems as well.
“It’s most rewarding that our name has become synonymous with high-quality service to our nearly 2,500 clients when water issues arise. I suppose there’s an element of legacy and I enjoy building the business as well. We get to meet and gain the trust of hundreds of new clients every year. When attrition of established clients (while generally minimal) costs the company sales, the experience makes us take stock and refine our model, helping us grow into a better, more well-rounded, business. The bulk of the work we do is residential systems, but I really enjoy designing, selling and installing the larger, more complex commercial water systems.”
McBride credits his dedicated family and staff for their continued good fortune. “My daughters have worked for me at different times, both in the office and in the field, though neither of them are looking for a career in water purification.My associates all play vital roles in our success. Melanie Young takes care of the financial and general office management. She and Michelle Collins share all of the day-to-day responsibilities, such as taking calls, scheduling sales, service and installation appointments, ordering inventory and institution of new operational tools like GPS tracking for company vehicles and scheduling software. Soon they will be instituting inventory control.
“Our two service/installation technicians, Bobby Arena and Nathan Hastings, are well trained for the servicing of most of the valves on the market and proper installation of whole-house and light commercial water purification equipment. While we train corporately, including in-house for the equipment we sell, as well as state/local training classes, we have recently become WQA members and plan on starting the WQA training programs within the next few months. Additional service offerings(which include well pump installation, radon measurement and mitigation and public water systems operations) all require certification and licensing. Continuing education for these programs are required annually or biennially.”
Noting the complexity of water treatment in general, McBride doesn’t say his venture has been an easy ride. He remained in the water filtration business, keeping his doors open during the hard times, because failure was never an option. The worst situation he has had to deal with, hands down, is the recession, which began only 18 months after the company purchased a highly visible office building. “As a relatively young company, our phones all but stopped ringing in December of 2008 for three months, recovering minimally the rest of the year,” McBride said. “We have grown in the double digits every year since. Refusing to fail made us work harder, go after more service customers and broaden our revenue streams from only water purification to well pump installation, air measurement and radon mitigation, all of which fit nicely into our portfolio of services. Happily, it worked well for our business.
“Now, we are in a major growth cycle, paying down debt and gaining on the larger, regional water companies. We are currently (at least for now), only offering service in New Hampshire. Our five-year plan, however, includes plans to grow all four of our revenue streams. Our main focus will be residential and commercial water purification. We are getting big enough now to institute internal systems that will serve to streamline our operation now and into the future. I am currently looking to hire an individual with the combination of field experience and technical knowledge who can share my responsibilities of sales, application and management, allowing me to focus on training and growing our business. We project we will add one service truck and tech a year over the next few years and continue to build our company into a self-sustaining, well-oiled machine.”
McBride has come a very long way since launching his company. He anticipates many more years of activity in the water treatment indus-try and offered his expectations for the future. “Our clients are becoming more and more aware that they need reliable laboratory water testing to find out what’s in the water they are drinking. As younger generations buy homes and have children, they are becoming more educated about drinking water and the hid-den health concerns that well water may contain. As the emphasis on consistent and reliable access to safe drinking water becomes ever more important, I believe that testing will become far more commonplace and water purification technology will continue to get better and more complex. We have some very complex issues here in New Hampshire and I know that our clients rely on us to help them with theirs.
“So what’s on the horizon for the water industry? Better educated water professionals will be needed to help a better educated public reach their goals of providing clean, safe water to their families. You can’t underestimate the value of a well-educated and well-trained professional. Many years ago, William R. Hague told me to become a student of the business. I did and I’m still learning. And I hope the industry will take that credo seriously to make water treatment better for everyone.”