DeWayne Hanes got his start in the water industry in Nebraska in 1965 when he began working for a Culligan dealership. After leaving Culligan, he became a distributor for General Ionics, a water conditioning company that built equipment that was largely utilized by NASA.
During his time with General Ionics, Hanes worked closely with the state health department, rural water districts and natural resources districts. He saw that there was a need for state-of-the-art water conditioning equipment that would meet the specific water quality challenges faced by residents in the Midwest and throughout the U.S. In 1994, Dewayne and his wife Sandra formed EcoloIonex to meet this need.
Increasing Popularity & Water Quality Issues
The company’s trademark product is a high-performance, efficient, water purification system that uses EcoloIonex products to not only soften water, but also remove nitrates, odor, iron and other contaminants. The system is used across the country, including in Nebraska, where the company is headquartered. “EcoloIonex attracted a growing number of users in all the areas where it was introduced, including some of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming,” Hanes said. Today, the popularity of the company’s system is continuing to spread in states like Texas and Illinois.
The widespread use of the system is a testament to the diversity of water quality challenges the system is able to treat. “Some of the problems that we face are iron, nitrates, coliform bacteria, arsenic [and] uranium, as well as pesticides and herbicides,” Hanes said.
The company personnel, which includes Hanes’ sons, sons-in-law and daughters, sells, installs and services the systems throughout the country.
Marketing Water Quality Options
In addition to the water purification system, the company offers water softeners and conditioners, drinking water systems, which include reverse osmosis (RO) systems, water coolers, ultraviolet light disinfection, and clean air systems. It also has solutions for small spaces and modest budgets, and provides free home water analysis in order to provide the right types and sizes of equipment for each specific problem.
All of these services benefit the company’s customer base, which consists of about 90% residential customers and 10% commercial customers. Although EcoloIonex’s commercial customers include car washes, restaurants, motels, rest homes, apartments and agricultural businesses, Hanes said that the residential market has proven to be most profitable for the company. “The bulk of our business comes from servicing our clientele with filter changes, salt and service in general,” he said. “We are reaching out to different entities pretty successfully and enjoying this aspect of our business.”
The company markets its services to new customers using a variety of techniques. “We do radio advertising, newspaper ads and some Yellow Pages advertising,” Hanes said. He mentioned that staff always follow up on calls from potential customers, but the company’s biggest source of marketing comes from its existing clientele recommending it to others in their areas. Hanes also has seen the value of having a good website, and he said the company is beginning to discover how social media sites like Facebook can add to the company’s marketing and advertising strategies.
Keeping Up With an Evolving Industry
Just as Hanes is seeing changes in advertising strategies, he said that the water industry is continuing to change. “The business is always changing, therefore there is a need to be a member of the Water Quality Assn., and to take part in continuing education from seminars, periodicals and magazines,” he said.
Hanes, who is a certified water specialist, said that ongoing education was a must for those in the water quality industry. “Stalemates are not good,” he said. Continuing education allows dealers to keep up with technological advances and best practices within the water industry and to continually provide the best products and solutions possible.
Forecasting the Future
Hanes is optimistic about the future of the water industry. As the variety of contaminants continues to grow, he said, there would always be a need for good water — despite any past or future changes in the economy.
“Economics, we feel, have little to do with whether there is a need for clean, soft water or not,” Hanes said. He added that in the long run, the savings that are realized from investing in water quality pave the way, allowing customers to have peace of mind.
He forecasted that technological advances would continue to propel the industry. “The cutting edge of technology will answer the questions that we have and our clients have, and will be profitable for those who are problem solvers,” he said.
As Hanes looks to the future, he noted that although these technological advances will help the industry immensely in the types of services that the industry will be able to provide, they also will shift the focus and require that those in the industry be not just salesmen, but people who really care. This is a trait that the EcoloIonex stands by.
“To borrow a quote from our daughter, ‘for us, selling, installing and servicing clean water systems is more than a business, it’s a mission. We are dedicated to providing good, healthy water to families and businesses in all the areas that we serve,’” he concluded.
Nebraska company’s clean water system addresses specific water quality concerns