Residential water treatment and conditioning have been the mainstays of this industry for decades, but in recent years, more and more dealers are venturing into the commercial water treatment market.
What exactly constitutes a commercial water treatment application has been cause for debate. According to Chubb Michaud of Systematix Co., the Water Quality Assn.’s Commercial & Industrial Section also grappled with the question of how to define residential versus commercial water treatment systems. He described the final verdict in his article “Commercial & Industrial Water System Design”: “It is the reliability of the function and the consequences of failure that separate the two categories.”
With those parameters, it is clear that many applications across many market sectors could fit the bill. Michaud mentions a car wash and a medical testing laboratory as examples of commercial water applications, and those are only the beginning.
New commercial water treatment applications are arising as industries develop and regulations change. Recent developments in Washington state opened unexpected opportunities for Jim and Pat Fox, owners of Custom Pure in Seattle and the May Dealers of the Month—local craft distilleries and breweries and marijuana growing operations are in need of water treatment. “All of those people need water filtration, so that’s been a growth market for us,” Pat said.
The variety in applications is what draws some dealers to commercial water treatment. One such person is TJ Rhodes of Futuramic’s Clean Water Center in Omaha, Neb., who finds commercial applications “not as monotonous” as residential. “[With] the commercial stuff, you almost never see anything [that’s the same],” he said. “You never have the same job twice. You get to see a whole lot more, and there’s a whole lot more opportunities for trying new things and seeing different things.”
Some dealers, on the other hand, specialize in particular markets based on business needs in their service areas. Todd VanHouten, owner of All-Rite Water Purification in Vero Beach, Fla., and the September 2016 Dealer of the Month, has found success by focusing on medical applications—specifically water treatment for cleaning medical and dental equipment and for dialysis. “Nationally, we’ve got the demographic of the baby boomers retiring … and with that brings health issues,” he said. “[The] dialysis process requires a significant pure water presence, so if there is going to be a lot more dialysis going on, there’s going to be a lot more water that needs to be treated.”
With so much variety, there are many ways to enter the commercial water treatment market, making it an ideal avenue for dealers looking to expand their businesses. We want to hear more from you. How much commercial work does your dealership do? What are your most memorable commercial water treatment projects? Visit us on social media or email us at [email protected].