One fateful day nearly three decades ago, Al Lozier saw a newspaper ad and decided to attend a presentation about opportunities in the water treatment industry.
“Back then they used to run an ad and 20 to 25 people would show up for a presentation,” he said. “They explained the opportunities in the water treatment business in a group atmosphere and let you decide if you were interested.”
He was. Lozier started training for in-home sales. “I was motivated. If you did well in sales, the companies had programs that would allow you to branch off and start your own business”—which he did.
His company is Fresh KC Water, a full-service, owner-operated water treatment company serving Kansas City and the surrounding 60-mile radius. “I wanted to have my own business and I built it from the ground up.”
Lozier was committed to customer satisfaction from day one. “I built my business on that. I’ve been very conscious that services get done correctly, technicians are trained correctly and the customers get what they pay for.” Over the past 28 years, Lozier and his team have completed more than 10,000 residential projects.
He is a Water Quality Association (WQA) Master Water Specialist VI CI, CSR. He trains his staff to those standards. Key employees are Ron Carruthers, service and sales specialist; Jennifer Jofre, customer care and Jean Richardson, account management. Lozier likes the challenge of water treatment problems and finding the right solutions. “City water is hard and creates a lot of problems for drinking water. We have great solutions for those challenges and customers want solutions.
“It depends on what specific contaminants you’re trying to remove. City water has a lot of chlorine and atrazine. Well water has iron, manganese, hardness and sometimes hydrogen sulfide.
“More and more people are moving out to the country and do not have access to city or rural water, so they’re pulling from a lake, digging a pond or a well. We have the people and the equipment to make that water potable.”
Consumer awareness has changed tremendously, he said. “People used to say ‘the water is great, it’s fine.’ Today we very rarely hear that. Usually it’s ‘I know my water’s bad. I don’t want to know how bad it is – just fix it.’
“If you’ve been in the business a long time and have developed a great name and carry great products, people seek you out, rather than the dealers seeking them out through home sales. People getting into the business today have greater opportunities than what we’ve had over the past 28 years. Today most new business comes from referrals: our customers, Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor,” Lozier said.
People also are receiving information in new ways. That’s why Lozier recently upgraded his company’s website and began developing a social-media presence. “It seems that’s how the younger generation is getting information, so we want to make sure we’re in the ball game.”
The user-friendly website includes customer testimonials, information about water softeners, drinking water systems and whole-house filters, frequently asked questions and consumer tips. The Fresh KC Water tagline is: ‘quality water made with quality products.’
Lozier said one challenge he faced as an independent dealer in the early years was “not having backing from major manufacturers. That was tough at times. Today that has changed. Major manufacturers like 3M™ Water and Pentair Water® have some great programs and name recognition.”
Looking ahead, Lozier sees great potential for rainwater harvesting. “More and more people are becoming aware that water is a precious resource. If you want to save rainwater—collect it from a roof or wherever—we have treatment equipment to do that. I see this as a growth area for water treatment dealers.”
Some day he also thinks independent dealers and water companies will work together. “When people call the water company to hook up their water, they should be asked if they would like premium water: reverse osmosis or a water-softener system. It’s like cable companies asking if you want the premium channels. If water companies got into that revenue stream, they’d have to find a good water treatment company in the area to install the equipment and service it. That’s where I see the fit with the water treatment industry,” he said.
“With the larger manufacturers like GE, Whirlpool and Procter and Gamble getting into the residential water business, they will need great independent dealers to market their products. If they’re getting into the water business, it must mean they see a future that’s good and going to get better.”
That’s reassuring. “It’s a good feeling to know you’re in an industry that’s going to be around for a long time.”