The Portasoft Co. in Westfield, N.J., began in 1946 with the partnership of Omer Miller and John Nooney. The friends were separated while serving in the military during World War II, but they reunited after the war and decided to start a business together. The result was Portasoft, which began as a central regeneration softener facility with offsite exchange routes. The company grew quickly, earning 11 patents for softeners and expanding its network of retail sales and rentals.
Today, Omer Miller’s son Byron Miller runs the company, which he leads by following the Golden Rule. “We treat others as we would like to be treated,” he said. He puts this philosophy both into providing quality customer service, and in managing employees.
Helping Employees Succeed
Finding and keeping good quality employees is Portasoft’s number one challenge, said Miller.
Treating coworkers with respect, concern and understanding is Miller’s philosophy in working with his 13 employees. He views every event as a learning opportunity, and strives to give employees the tools they need to succeed. The company holds a weekly staff meeting to set performance goals and to keep employees informed of what is going on in the company and get their suggestions.
“My job is to make everyone better at their job,” said Miller. “I am the coach, the teacher, challenging people to think for themselves, providing information so they can solve problems.”
Lasting Customer Service
Providing excellent customer service is Portasoft’s top priority. Customers receive personal service from the start: a live person always answers the phone, and even the owners take calls from customers.
The high quality of service lasts throughout a customer’s relationship with Portasoft. The company developed a special scheduling system that ensures that customers who need service will be accommodated as quickly as possible, while keeping the service routes in a tight pattern.
Customer education is also a major factor in Miller’s customer service philosophy, so he aims to keep customers informed. One of the biggest challenges Portasoft faces is customer confusion about contaminants. “New regulations create concerns, so we need to help consumers understand the ‘why’ and the benefits of remediation,” said Miller. “We are kicking off a green campaign highlighting the advantages that home water improvement creates.”
The “do unto others” philosophy in customer service has paid off: Portasoft has more than 15,000 active customers, with more than half of new customers coming from referrals.
Ethical practices and improving water resources are important components of Miller’s business philosophy. He is the director of Pure Water for the World, an international organization that creates sustainable drinking water solutions for people living on less than 50 cents a day.
“No one understands water improvement better,” Miller said. “Purveyors deliver and improve safety, but we make it more efficient, more useful. The future is bright for an industry that embraces ethics and can improve this precious resource.”