Honesty Is the Best Policy
California dealership bases its business practices on a foundation of trust and training
Pacific Purification Inc. was created in 2004 as a branch of Dougherty Pump & Drilling Inc., a central California well drilling and pump business. The company wanted to develop an organization specifically devoted to water treatment and the manufacturing of treatment equipment for the biodiesel industry, mining operations, agricultural operations and the silicon chip industry. Thus, Pacific Purification Inc. was born.
Behind the new branch was company President Clifford L. Fasnacht. He began his career working at Dougherty Pump & Drilling 36 years ago, and bought the business in 1989. As president, he has seen the company grow over the years.
With its team of nine employees, Pacific Purification Inc. has created a niche for itself in the Salinas Valley area. “We fulfill a segment of the marketplace that responds to the ‘design-and-build’ concept,” Fasnacht said. “Most of our projects revolve around specialty areas that are unique or need features that aren’t commonly found on prepackaged or ‘off-the-shelf’ products.” Some of the company’s projects have included ammonia removal for a large silver mine in Canada and specialty anion removal for a plant in southern Georgia.
Water Conditioning Challenges
Since its inception, the company has witnessed quite a few changes in the water treatment and conditioning industry. In addition to general water quality concerns that the company treats—nitrates, chlorides and arsenic—the company has faced water shortages and cutbacks over the years.
While its specific area of business has not been hit dramatically by the economic decline, the company has become more sensitive to pricing and value for those customers who have been greatly impacted. Pacific Purification now provides alternative pricing structures and has taken special care to educate customers on the benefits of do-it-yourself aspects of installation where applicable.
Fasnacht noted a special change that he has seen in certain regions of the U.S. “Water treatment/conditioning has suffered over the years from high-pressure sales, improper applications and customer dissatisfaction. As a result, the industry has been regarded as somewhat unscrupulous,” he said. To combat this image, the company has invested in quality in-house, online and out-of-office training and education of its sales force and dealers.
Industry Goes Green
While it has seen its share of challenges, Fasnacht emphasized that Pacific Purification, along with the entire water treatment industry, is at an exciting juncture. Companies like his are offering new green technologies, techniques and equipment that help to protect the environment. Many companies are developing equipment that is more efficient and utilizes less salt, “which reduces chloride discharge into the waste systems,” he said. Membrane equipment also is becoming more effective, “allowing for less energy use and a higher throughput in membrane separation devices.”
Another exciting change Fasnacht noted is the cooperative efforts between the industry and government that have helped companies “overcome restrictive laws and ordinances.”
“Many states interact with their legislators to help educate them regarding the positive benefits of water treatment and the impact of poorly crafted pieces of legislation,” Fasnacht said. “In California, the Pacific Water Quality Assn. [PWQA] has been instrumental in stopping some legislation and assisting with the drafting of beneficial legislation.”
As members of PWQA and the Water Quality Assn., Pacific Purification is finding that legislators welcome the company and others like it as a resource, and value their input.
What Does the Future Hold?
One of Pacific Purification’s goals is to use communication and advertising to increase the knowledge of its consumers. “We are striving to educate our consumer base to a level that informed decisions are made instead of emotional ones,” Fasnacht said. With the prevalence of smart phones and tablets, the company is utilizing e-mail and phone calls as primary methods of communicating with consumers.
As for the industry, Fasnacht said that growth and prosperity for small water dealers in the water industry are dependant on dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and lawmakers protecting and preserving the environment. He encouraged water softener installers to do their part in protecting the environment by installing high-efficiency units, and replacing older, inefficient units with new, high-efficiency ones whenever possible.
He also noted that it is important for small water dealers to become active in local and state associations and make their voices heard about protecting their needs and the environment.
His final words of advice for water dealers emphasize honesty as the best policy: “Be honest, get educated, don’t do more than your education will allow, be honest, provide excellent customer service [and] be honest.”