Like Father, Like Son

January 3, 2012

One day, Felix Zykoff received a request from a friend to fix his water softener. He did. A few more friends later asked him to do the same. Eventually, what began more than 35 years ago as simple favors for friends and relatives blossomed into Ideal Water LLC, a water treatment and conditioning company located in Hopewell Junction, N.Y. Now in the hands of Felix’s son and business partner, Will, Ideal Water is poised to continue offering quality products and services to its family of customers into the new year and beyond.

The younger Zykoff, who is also now owner of the company, grew up in the business, helping his father on weekends and eventually joining him as partner in the 1990s after graduating from college. With their combined experience and commitment to accommodating the needs of customers, Ideal Water has built itself as a trusted resource for people in the region looking to improve their water quality.

Keeping Up With Customers

Much has changed since Will’s father began offering water treatment services in the Hudson Valley area. The evolution of technology has certainly affected the company, as well as the water treatment industry as a whole, in measurable ways.

“Many startups and the Internet have made the longtime foundation brick-and-mortar companies work harder to maintain their customer bases,” Zykoff said, adding that keeping customers satisfied remains a priority for Ideal Water.

“Expansion has always been a challenge,” he said. “We have always tried to respond to our customers’ needs quickly, [such as a] 24- to 48-hour turnaround for service calls and same day for emergencies. The expanse of customers has made it more challenging to accomplish this.”

Regional water concerns also continue to pose a challenge for Ideal Water. “Locally we have a lot of sulfur and bacteria. Some instances of radium and arsenic have popped up, but are rare. We have had several hot spots of MTBE contamination, which have been localized, but require their own dedication,” Zykoff explained.

Expanding Business

Despite these obstacles and the struggling economy, Ideal Water remains a strong player on the water treatment scene. “We have had a slower rental market, but our sales numbers are up about 22% for the past 12 months,” Zykoff said. “I believe the water issues still exist and people still need the work done, but are paying it off right away to avoid any further debt.”

Ideal Water’s customers largely come from the residential market, but Zykoff said the company has steadily been increasing its commercial business by 20% per year for the last three years. Other plans for expansion include branching into salt sales and wholesale distribution to local plumbers.

Putting Customers First

Zykoff is proud of his company’s commitment to treating customers like family with its sound business practices. He said Ideal Water does not “oversell” and simply aims to treat the issues at hand. The company also does not charge “trip charges” to its customers. “We only charge for service if we indeed work on the unit. If when we arrive, the water is soft and the complaint is hard water, we will not look at the system if the customer chooses and there would be no service call,” Zykoff said.

For Zykoff and his crew, it is important to cater to clients’ needs. “Be a resource for your customer. It may seem like it takes up some time, but in the long run it pays off,” he said. With customers growing more aware of what pollutants may be in their water, utilizing emerging technologies will be key for the future.

Added Zykoff, “Customers are sharpening their pencils and doing their research prior to buying.”

Raissa Rocha is contributing editor for Water Quality Products. Rocha can be reached at rrocha@sgcmail.com or 847.954.7915.

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