With more than 20 years in information technologies (IT) work, Jose Grullon was introduced to the water industry by a friend who performed tests on his water. Grullon had a water treatment system installed and he said the difference in his water was like “night and day.”
Grullon was so moved, he started selling water treatment products part time in Florida in addition to his full-time job in IT. Following his separation from his wife, he moved to New Jersey, where he continued in the water treatment industry. But he noticed a worrisome trend: Some of his colleagues would say anything to make a sale.
Grullon admits he emulated that behavior—exaggerating problems and overselling solutions—but it took its toll. The culture of pushing products made him uncomfortable.
“I couldn’t sleep at night. It was a whole week I couldn’t sleep at night just from one or two sales I did like that,” Grullon said. “I couldn’t do [it] anymore. I changed completely.”
Recognizing his passion for the water industry and his desire to help people, Grullon got in touch with the Water Quality Assn. in 2012. He became certified and opened his own business, Purified Solutions, in Melville, N.Y.
The burden of the business falls squarely on Grullon. He has hired salespeople in the past, but they did not pan out because he saw the same attitudes and behaviors he came to resent at his previous jobs.
“I didn’t know what they were going to say to the customers to make their commissions,” Grullon said. “I had a few, but I had to let them go because of that same reason. [Now] I just hire people as I need, but I don’t have anyone on staff.”
He takes a passionate, client-oriented approach to sales. Rather than trying to push one product on a family looking to improve its water, Grullon educates customers on what is in the water, if there is anything dangerous about it and some options to deal with those problems. With this approach, Grullon does not constrain his sales to a particular brand of products. Instead, he suggests a product he trusts that also works within the budget and desires of the client.
The commercial side of the water industry, he said, has a greater demand than residential. Spas, restaurants and offices desire high-quality water, and servicing larger clients can be more lucrative. But Grullon finds satisfaction in helping residential users.
“I don’t need to do a killing. I just need to survive and help people, and that drives me and my business,” Grullon said. “I care about the people. … I will go the extra mile in helping people.”
Knowing His Audience
Portions of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx get their water from the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, but Long Island residents use groundwater. Municipal water in his clients’ homes is semi-soft (around 3 to 5 grains of hardness per gallon), and those levels have increased since the spring of 2016, Grullon said.
“The water that goes down through the ground when it rains—runoff [from] salt through the winter that we throw in because of the snow, the fertilizers, the pesticides, herbicides, you name it … that eventually leaches nitrogen into the water,” Grullon said.
High nitrogen levels from algal blooms have killed thousands of fish in New York state. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation estimated between 300,000 to 400,000 died due to lack of oxygen as a result of the algal blooms. Grullon said this can lead to risks to humans, as many people in the area rely on septic tanks and cesspools. These factors—along with improper pharmaceutical disposal and use of microbeads in soaps—contribute to water problems.
This holistic image of water in New York is what Grullon uses to educate customers. He explains how those issues relate to them, and what they can do if their water does have a serious problem.
“I really like the way they feel when they get the result. I like to be part of the evolution of someone actually developing themselves to become a better person,” Grullon said.
Diversity & the Next Step
Grullon has made efforts to improve Purified Solutions. He added air purification as an offering and recently changed his website hosting services to better leverage the internet for his business. He also has enlisted office help.
The changes have not been without their difficulties, but Grullon sees them as a step toward an even better business. He has generated sales leads through the internet and said it will become more important than ever to be visible on the web.
“Having a good presence everywhere is necessary, especially on the internet. Everybody, especially the millennials, wants to do everything on their own,” Grullon said. “Making sure people can find you is really important, too.”