Brian Bayford, owner and president of WaterPro, Inc., recalls his company’s first offices: a simple desk outside he and his wife’s bedroom in their eastern Virginia home.
“It was just my wife Dorothy and I and our Great Dane running the business,” Bayford said. “Within the first year, we grew, got a receptionist and built an addition onto our home so we could warehouse the products. Then we had to build an extra driveway so all the tractor trailers could fit. When we reached 12 employees, the neighbors were getting a little upset, so we moved into a real office and warehouse.”
In its 9th year, WaterPro markets its products and services to a large portion of Eastern Virginia.
WaterPro, Inc. was started in 2000 and now in its 9th year, employs 16 people and markets commercial and residential water systems, water sampling and analyzing for new homes, well-drilling services, filter and RO coolers and salt and filter delivery to a large portion of eastern Virginia.
The recent crippled economy has affected WaterPro a little bit, Bayford said, but the company has taken active steps to mitigate the effects. The company has founded a few new product lines, used some unique marketing tactics and expanded sales territories to include some larger cities. Bayford admits that the success of his business almost directly corresponds to real estate sales, so it has been a bit of a struggle, but he sees things looking up in the near future.
“We used to do eight to nine tests per day in new homes and subdivisions,” he said. “In the past year it dropped to just four per month. But now, I’m back up to four per day. I’m starting to see realtors smile again, which is a good thing.”
Melanie Bayford, mother of Brian Bayford, demonstrates the brand-new water bottle filling station installed in WaterPro’s headquarters.
With the real estate market hopefully improving soon, Bayford said the builders market will get back up and running again, too—this means builders and residents will look to WaterPro for well-drilling services and residential water treatment systems.
WaterPro’s marketing strategies succeed in reaching the community and setting itself a part from competitors. They give a free water system to local restaurants and health food stores and, in return, the business must put up a sign advertising WaterPro products. The catch is the businesses must pay for filter replacements; Bayford says he breaks even in six months, and still receives the free advertising.
Radio advertising is also approached in a creative way. Contests are held where WaterPro employees can write a song, jingle or poem that advertises their products. The radio station decides the winner, uses the winning entry in radio ad spots and the winner and spouse get a free gift certificate or dinner.
An exciting new project launched in the past three months was the water bottle refilling station installed in the WaterPro showroom. Anyone from the community can walk in and refill their water bottles or purchase bottled water.
“Tap water is terrible around here, so it’s a way for people to get high-quality water without paying for an expensive RO unit,” Bayford said. “Yet, it gets people in here and drives interest in the RO system because they can see how it works for themselves. Since we started this, walk-in traffic has increased by four times and sales of our salt filters have skyrocketed.”
Bayford is an active member of the Eastern Water Quality Association, the local chamber of commerce and many realtor associations. He also teaches sales and marketing training to other small water businesses nationwide. Brian and Dorothy are also the parents of eight children—to say the two have their hands full would be an understatement. But by staying busy, keeping up to date on industry trends and being creative with marketing approaches, the Bayfords have grown their company bigger and better by the day.