Colorado dealership combines family values & passion for sharing quality water
In the shadow of the eastern Rocky Mountains rests Thornton, Colo., home to a budding water treatment dealership called Bolder Water. Owners Tim Dickerson and Melissa McMurphy launched the business together in early 2017 and have quickly developed a reputation for attentive customer service, community involvement and quality custom solutions.
Beginning a Business
With 19 years in the water industry doing everything from building water pumps to working at a local bottled water company, Dickerson was an experienced water specialist and salesman long before Bolder Water began. The unexpected passing of his father in 2016 forced him and McMurphy to reevaluate their goals for themselves and their combined family, “one short of a Brady Bunch,” according to McMurphy.
“I wanted to be able to leave a legacy for the future,” Dickerson said. “I realized with the loss of my father the importance of family and being able to follow my passion. My passion has always been in sales and being able to help people.”
With Dickerson’s nearly two decades of field experience, McMurphy’s business smarts and a lot of gumption, Bolder Water was born.
“Life is short; life is sweet,” McMurphy said. “We wanted to create an organic business [using] my organization skills along with his field expertise, and we’ve been able to do it.”
Bolder Water’s logo mirrors the values on which Dickerson and McMurphy founded the company: blue represents the purity of the water they are looking to provide; green represents the sustainability they hope to achieve by limiting bottled water waste; and purple—Dickerson’s late father’s favorite color—represents family.
Dickerson and McMurphy opened Bolder Water in early 2017.
A Family Affair
Owning their own business has enabled the pair to spend more time with their kids. By setting their own hours, McMurphy and Dickerson are able to take more time to be there for the moments that count, knowing their teenagers are soon to fly the coop.
In the meantime, the kids are happy to lend a helping hand for the new business. The three youngest, all around 13 years old, hang fliers around town and assist with inventory. Their eldest daughter, Acacia, is a sophomore honor roll student at the local high school and considering majoring in biology in college. She uses her interest in the subject to assist her family with water testing at the local farmers market in the summertime.
Alex, their eldest son and a freshman in high school, is already considering getting his Water Quality Assn. (WQA) certification with the goal of becoming one of Bolder Water’s first installers.
“The right ingredients are family,” Dickerson said. “We’re teaching the kids to move forward with their goals rather than be behind the scenes.”
For Bolder Water, a small family business, one of the biggest obstacles has been navigating the competition in a service area filled with local plumbers and larger treatment companies. Bolder Water has used a combination of marketing tactics and positive reviews as its primary strategy to establish its name in the community.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve had customers call us just through researching,” McMurphy said. “We are very customer driven, so we let our customers drive our business.”
Marketing tools range from old-school fliers and word of mouth to the company’s strong presence on social media and the Bolder Water blog. The blog serves to thank customers, as an informational tool and as a channel to show customers that the business is current, Dickerson explained.
“I’ve noticed that when you reach out in that way, potential customers want to see something that’s current, not something that someone created on a website that’s two or three years old,” Dickerson said of the blog. “People get to see what I do on a day-to-day basis and how I’m helping people.”
Dickerson’s sales strategy is another key component in setting Bolder Water apart from its competitors. Drawing on his years of sales experience, Dickerson has come up with his own sales plan that emphasizes the customer’s needs.
“I’ve worked with other water companies that have focused so much on sales targets that they forget who their target market is, which the consumer is,” Dickerson said. “Which is their neighbor and our neighbor.”
Instead of overwhelming the customer with information and creating a high-pressure sales situation, Dickerson strives to have open conversations with his customers. He explains the problem in a straightforward manner and relays his recommendations. This simple strategy is rooted in the core values of Bolder Water.
“We want to bring family back to business and we really listen to what our customers want and need,” Dickerson said.
Bolder Water is one of the only water treatment dealers in the area that is open on weekends, and because Dickerson and McMurphy own the business, they can afford to be flexible. They let the customers tailor their business and, in exchange, they can spend more time with their family.
For Dickerson, who is a certified water specialist and certified installer through the WQA, association certification is invaluable. In fact, Dickerson views WQA as a stepping stone for his business.
He said WQA certification is, “absolutely one of the best assets [of] being in the water treatment industry. I don’t feel you can absolutely learn about water quality issues unless you are targeting your education.”
The 2018 WQA Convention & Exhibition gave Dickerson the opportunity to continue his education right in his own backyard, as this year’s convention was held just south of Thornton, in Denver.
While Bolder Water is still in the early stages of growth, both Dickerson and McMurphy are optimistic they will be in a position to bring more employees into their team by the end of the year. When that time comes, WQA certification will be mandatory for Bolder Water employees.
“That’s going to be one of our requirements because they hold the industry standard on water quality,” Dickerson said. “I truly believe being listed as a member and having my certifications is something that I market.”
The company promotes its WQA certification on its website and Dickerson includes it in every business point of contact because, “being a certified water specialist is not something I take lightly,” he said. Moving forward, one of his primary goals is to become a master water specialist and continue his water quality education.
From a marketing perspective, McMurphy could not agree more. “The reputation that [WQA has] is stellar and that’s important when you have a customer base,” she said. “They instill confidence in the customer.”
The Adventure Continues
With the increase in water quality issues and emerging contaminants covered in the media in recent years, Dickerson sees growth in the water treatment industry on the horizon. Consumers are more aware than ever before and continuously questioning what is in their water.
“With the water quality issues we have seen throughout the country in the last 12 to 18 months, people will absolutely take their water treatment into their own hands,” Dickerson said.
Beyond consumers being more aware of what is in their water, Dickerson foresees a push for sustainability. As customers seek to reduce their environmental footprint from bottled water while still obtaining high-quality drinking water, demand for in-home water treatment systems will increase. Bolder Water hopes to continue growing with the water treatment industry and continue improving water quality for its community in the coming years.
“It’s been an adventure serving our community, and we want to continue that adventure,” Dickerson said. “Our passion to our vision has driven us on a daily basis.”
“We’re just grateful that we have the opportunity to make a difference somehow in the quality of people’s lives,” McMurphy said.