Dennis Martin’s success story is a classic tale of hard work and quality service. As owner of his namesake company, Martin Water Conditioning, he remembers when it was just himself with one other employee, working out of his garage in Myerstown, Pa.
That was 37 years ago.
These days the Martin family remains at the helm, operating eight locations throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania and New York, with 55 full-time employees. Martin said he takes pride in his sales and service technicians, who each have a broad service/installation knowledge base and can professionally assist customers with their needs.
Eighty percent of the business is residential; the remainder is commercial and industrial.
“Most of our applications are on well water as compared to municipal water, so we do face iron, manganese, sulfur, nitrates, turbidity, bacteria—many waters a combination of those,” Martin said. "Our sales technicians can properly address problem water applications due to their broad service knowledge base. I believe this is something unique to our company."
Martin also places an emphasis on continued learning and development for his employees.
"We have our own in-house sales, service and installation training that is an ongoing effort,” Martin said. “We sell Kinetico’s products and take advantage of Kinetico’s corporate sales and service academies. Our employees also receive training from the Eastern and National Water Quality Assn. Currently we have 32 employees certified by WQA.”
Martin Water Conditioning also operates a state-certified water testing lab, Pure Test Water Laboratory.
“With that certified analytical service available, it’s turnkey for us: We can bring waters in, provide the certified analytical service, make a treatment recommendation, do the installation and all the following maintenance and service,” Martin said.
The company also has adapted the Internet and technology into its processes.
“We are computerized in terms of our systems, which include customer records and barcode inventory control,” Martin said. “We utilize the Google ‘pay-per-click’ to drive customers to our website, www.martinwater.com , and we have an ongoing maintenance for website optimization.”
With so many different facets of his business, Martin said he relies on the quality of the individuals he hires—and that begins with good character.
“We feel if we have someone of good character, we will invest in teaching them the trade and skills,” he said. “I think our hiring practice, in terms of who we hire and introduce into the workforce, is the key.”
It also is important to make sure that employees always are part of the daily business process, he said.
“It is kind of a grassroots employee effort as we go about tweaking our processes and making changes to what we do,” Martin said. “We have our employees very much involved, as compared to a top-heavy management style model. As the company has grown, we have implemented a human resource team, marketing team and service employee team. Employees appreciate the opportunity to contribute in various ways; this leads to a healthy working relationship between employees and management. I believe employee involvement contributes to retaining employees.”
Key challenges also have evolved, and Martin delved into some of those.
“The issue of finding the technology and what is going to best serve the customer was a challenge years ago as we worked with various water problems,” he said. “One thing we’ve never done is walked away from a problem water. Even though providing the services was at times a low-margin experience for us, we took care of the customer; and today as a result of these experiences we are able to successfully make preferred recommendations that serve the customer well.
“Our largest challenge today may be the issue of managing and adjusting our business model to accommodate the continued growth we have as a company," Martin said.