This article originally appeared in WQP July 2020 issue as "Love at First Filtration Demonstration"
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When Julio Torres installed a water filtration/softening/purification system for his home in 1982, he quickly realized the vitality of the water quality improvement industry. Excited with the prospect of being a part of this industry, he soon ventured out on his own in 1984 in order to fully realize his dreams.
“When I first saw a demonstration, I said, ‘I think this is going to be the next appliance,’” Torres said.
Torres earned a Bachelors of Arts in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from the University of New Orleans as well as a Bachelors of Science in Pharmacology from Xavier University, College of Pharmacy.
He started selling water filtration systems part-time, working for the company that he bought his systems from and then eventually going off on his own. Torres took his sales experience, and along with another coworker from this company, who specialized in installation, started a business in 1984. In 2010, Torres took on a partner, becoming Wellness Water Co., up until July 2018 when Torres bought him out, evolving into Torres Water Co.
Torres Water Co. is located in Jefferson, Louisiana. Torres is a Certified Water Specialist with the Water Quality Association (WQA).
Drinking Water Needs & Customer Service
Torres Water Co. sells, installs and maintains equipment for customers and it serves all brands. The dealership mainly serves residential and commercial needs with some industrial opportunities cropping up every once in a while.
“We have a long list of happy customers, including restaurants, hotels and hospitals,” Torres added.
In Louisiana, several northern water systems lead national rankings for contaminants, including chloroform. This seems to be one of the state’s most pressing issues, according to Torres.
After his business partner discovered studies touting the benefits of drinking alkaline water, the team became involved in developing an alkaline water cartridge that will adjust the drinking water pH to 9 to 10. This filter is what separates Torres Water Co. from others, according to Torres.
The biggest challenge in the beginning of Torres’ business venture was educating his customers about the dangers of what contaminants may be in the water. Today, this hardly ever comes up in conversation with clients.
“People are definitely more concerned now,” Torres said. “They ask us questions. It is great. There is a difference between then and now.”
According to Torres, today’s water quality equipment has become more efficient since when he first entered the industry. He also notes that there is more interest in improving water quality in a more economical and sustainable way.
Change & COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
Overall, the business is home to eight employees. As the company hires new service technicians, it is commonplace to take them out into the field and train them. This hands-on experience is crucial to helping water quality employees understand how to maintain the equipment properly. Educating the consumer on the job is also common, according to Torres.
This process is on hold for now, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I built my business on service, but during this time, we are not servicing commercial industries. We respect the consumer’s thoughts on whether they even want us to enter their homes,” Torres said, noting the challenges that come with checking in on filtration systems as the coronavirus social distancing measures have ramped up. “Believe it or not, we’re still selling systems.”
The company prides itself on its ability to use electronic customer service and maintain proper social distancing practices in response to the pandemic. Rather than taking a reactive approach to water filtration system maintenance, Torres Water Co. keeps tabs on its customers to remain proactive in determining their service needs in a timely manner.
No matter the odds, clean water is a necessity, Torres added. Health, aesthetics and economics are crucial business goals for the company. Customers generally want to eliminate hard water, especially in Jefferson. Torres Water Co. uses its website to draw attention to these water issues and the water systems best-suited to customers’ needs.
Looking Back at Hurricane Katrina
The state’s water source is the Mississippi, which is one of the largest drainage basins in the world. With this massive size comes responsibility and a serious need for improvement. The Mississippi River is an important commercial waterway and one of North America’s great migration routes, so it only makes sense for its system to require major maintenance measures.
Due to New Orleans parishes being rather antiquated, Louisiana is experiencing a number of boil advisories for water, according to Torres.
Since Jan. 1, 2017, the state’s Safe Drinking Water Program has reinstated a bacteriological sample collection program for all public water systems statewide. The program collects and analyzes the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and haloacetic acids (HAA5) samples for water systems statewide, according to the Louisiana Department of Health.
Hurricane Katrina compromised a distribution system and burst pipes, among a plethora of other consequences affecting the Mississippi River and communities long after the hurricane.
Storm surge from Hurricane Katrina destroyed hundreds of square miles of coastal wetlands.
“We are still feeling the effects to this day,” Torres said.
Nevertheless, Torres Water Co. is still playing its part in the community, managing to find ways to work around the challenges and unpredictable circumstances as they present themselves. For Julio Torres, it is timeless and important to serve communities quality drinking water.
“Without water, there is no life,” Torres said.