After reading up on water conditioning, in 1949 grocery store owner and butcher R.C. Pat Abendroth began operating Abendroth Water Conditioning out of his garage. Passed down through three generations since, today the Ft. Atkinson, Wis., family business is run by Vincent “Vince” M. Kent, MP, CWS-I, CI, the husband of Abendroth’s granddaughter Linda.
Abendroth Water is comprised of seven service technicians/installers, two salt and bottled water delivery technicians and three office staff members. Possessing a combined 150 years of education in the water treatment field, all of the service technicians are Wisconsin master and journeyman plumbers with Water Quality Association (WQA) CWS and CI certifications.
Kent credits his employees with having afforded him the opportunity to take on the role of 2009-2010 WQA president. “Our team members are the type of people that you can feel the passion they have for wanting to help each and every customer walk away with a pleasant experience. Even when they are on the other end of the phone—the type of team members that a customer can feel them smiling when talking to them,” Kent said.
This genuine customer-first approach separates Abendroth Water from its competition, according to Kent. “Let’s face it,” he said, “we are still an industry that has all the same things to offer our customers. But in understanding the customers’ needs and being compassionate with them, that takes quality, and that is not something most can offer.”
In addition to its people, Abendroth Water prides itself on its involvement with the WQA; the company has been a member since 1960. From improving its tradeshow to creating a new marketing image for water softeners via a recent Battelle study, the association will roll out numerous accomplishments in the coming year, Kent said.
“How can you not become involved in the association that is the lifeline to your business and livelihood? How can you not be willing to support the single association that promotes, defends, educates and provides leads for your day-to-day business?” he asked. “Most water treatment dealers spend more on a cup of coffee on the way to work each day than what a membership in WQA will cost them.”
Call to Action
Because regulators “never sleep,” Kent urges water industry professionals to engage in today’s market, joining the WQA and supporting research and development—for a salt- and chloride-free water softener, for example.
“Many members don’t get involved because they simply think, ‘That won’t happen in my area.’ Wrong!” Kent said.
The industry advocate also encourages his peers to go beyond “soft and fluffy, smooth and silky” promotions, touting the benefits of modern water treatment technologies that act as home security systems of sorts.
From addressing customers’ water problems to protecting industry interests, Kent’s ultimate call to action is to become wholly and significantly involved, and he is leading by example.