NMP Water Systems in New Jersey finds networking key to customer growth in a large area
NMP Water Systems has been around since 1985, but the company today hardly resembles that of 30 years ago. Originally, the NMP name stood for Nature’s Market Place, a whole foods market owned by Ed Van Overloop in Ridgewood, N.J. Ed soon realized pure food went hand in hand with pure water and opened the water treatment company.
Ed’s grandson Tim Van Overloop grew up around the business, working on weekends and during summers. He graduated from Fordham University and took a job in the corporate world, but after two years, he realized where he belonged.
Van Overloop purchased the company from his grandfather in 2004, and he has been growing the business ever since.
“Where the business came from to where it is now to where it is going is a very stark contrast,” Van Overloop said. “Jokingly we now say NMP is for No More Problems.”
Covering a Lot of Ground
NMP Water Systems services 75 miles in each direction of its Mahwah, N.J., location. This includes parts of Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
“It’s a big area,” Van Overloop said. “There’s 10 electricians and 10 plumbers in every town, and there’s probably only 10 water treatment guys in that whole area, if that.”
Van Overloop doesn’t shy away from commercial jobs, but the primary component of his business is residential. About 60 percent of his customers have city/municipal water and 40 percent have well water.
“We have an array of different water conditions here,” he said. These include high-iron and high-sulfur well water and hard city water."
Building a Network
Van Overloop said he started out with 40 or 50 customers but now has more than 1,000. This large increase in numbers, however, hasn’t come from traditional advertising but networking instead.
“You have to have a network of professionals you do good work for and who refer you business,” he said. “I have three or four builders, one or two kitchen designers and renovation guys. And we get business from them each and every week.”
An online presence is also crucial for NMP Water Systems. The company has been awarded the Angie’s List Super Service Award for the last 4 years. The review website gives this award to the top 5 percent of qualifying businesses with superior service ratings per category in each industry.
“Angie’s List revolutionized my business, and it took me out of my garage and into my commercial shop” Van Overloop said. “It gives you credibility.”
Although Van Overloop said he is not really into Facebook and Twitter, social media can be yet another source of business.
“There are a few local Internet groups like the Ridgewood Mom’s Group that if you get on there, people talk about how good of a job you did,” he said. “I probably got 10 jobs in the last three months from the Ridgewood Mom’s Group.”
Certifying the Team
Training is a key component of the business for Van Overloop and his team of six employees.
“Every quarter you have to make a concerted effort to train your guys, and a lot of times the best training is on the jobsite,” he said. “It’s me coming down to a jobsite in a commercial building or at a customer’s home and pointing out correct things for my guys, explaining to them why we’re putting certain equipment in this application versus different equipment in another one.”
Training also comes from vendors and Water Quality Association (WQA) and Eastern Water Quality Association (EWQA) membership. Van Overloop sees the value in both Water Specialist and installer certifications.
“It’s important to have my guys certified because moving forward there’s going to be licensing, and I’m actually a big advocate of that,” he said. “I would like to be the first licensed water purification contractor in the state of New Jersey.”
The knowledge that comes from these certifications is just one key component to providing the best service possible and installations that NMP Water Systems can stand behind, a practice since the very beginning.
“I give a 10-year warranty on all our equipment and workmanship no matter what because it was my grandfather’s philosophy that any installment should work for 10 years without any problems or it’s up to you to make it right,” Van Overloop said. “Some things have changed, but there’s a lot of tried and true practices and similarities to what there was 30 years ago.”