Culligan by WaterCo.
In the late 1930s, when Chicago faced issues with hard and iron-ridden water, the Culligan family – ensuring Culligan International (Culligan) be known – began to coin the slogan: Hey, Culligan Man. Before long, Culligan was a household name for water treatment solutions and service.
“Culligan is a 77-year-old company,” shares Don Fuller, CEO of Illinois-based franchise Culligan by WaterCo. “Emmett Culligan and four partners originally founded the business after successfully formulating and marketing a water softening technique that would help the city’s hard water problem.”
After a few short years, Emmett and several other family members launched Culligan into the Chicago market spotlight. “They sold water softeners door to door and they had a nice market in the Chicago area,” recounts Fuller. “The close-knit, family-run business was all over the media and ‘Hey, Culligan Man,’ became very well-known.”
In fact, it was actually the same slogan that first attracted Fuller to Culligan. “I heard the tag line almost every day on the radio,” he recalls. “I was out of college and looking for a job and I decided to look into Culligan.”
Continuing the Culligan tradition and trusted name
After working for Culligan for more than three decades, Fuller and his fellow employee and friend John Capone, now COO of Culligan by WaterCo., saw an opportunity they couldn’t resist. “A few years ago, Culligan corporate owned a little over 120 stores out of their franchise network of approximately 700 stores,” Capone explains. “The company elected to re-franchise and sell off the 120 company-owned stores.”
Capone, who had also been with the company for 25 years, joined Fuller and the pair initially purchased 11 Culligan stores in October 2011. “Along with the help of our equity partners, we acquired our first Culligan stores, since then we’ve added four other franchises and we now have 16 locations nationwide,” adds Capone. “Overall, we’ve grown by 50 percent over the last two years. We went from working in a corporate environment to running our own multimillion-dollar company.”
As a well-established business, Culligan by WaterCo was not the typical startup. “It was like we grabbed hold of a tiger while he’s running by,” explains Fuller. “We spent years managing stores so we were already intimately familiar with the industry and the personnel. We were even able to retain 100 percent of the company’s previous employees. We have reinvented the entire infrastructure of the business, setting up new information technology and streamlining operations across nationwide locations.”
Nationwide with a small town U.S.A. feel
Today, Culligan by WaterCo is headquartered in Lombard, Ill.; however, the company’s reach spans 16 locations from coast to coast. “We have 16 physical locations overall after just purchasing another franchise several months ago,” details Fuller. “We cover a large portion of Massachusetts, all of Connecticut and Rhode Island, half of New York, Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; portions of Indiana; Spokane, Yakima, Seattle and Olympia in Washington State; Portland, Ore.; Napa, Calif.; and the San Francisco Bay area.”
Culligan by WaterCo employs approximately 240 employees. “Everything is done from our trucks, by our employees,” says Capone. “While we own a fair number of stores there are several other large Culligan dealers who also own multiple locations, but by in large, 90 percent of the Culligan store owners are small town U.S. dealers who own the water treatment business in their area.”
The neighborhood water expert
Culligan’s focus has always been, and continues to be, providing better water for customers in their homes, offices, restaurants and industrial facilities. The company’s complete line of water softeners, filtration systems, commercial and industrial water treatment solutions, drinking water systems, whole-house filtration systems and bottle water delivery have set the standard in the water treatment industry for decades. Homeowners and business owners continue to count on the Culligan Man, because clean, pure and refreshing drinking water is a necessity.
“Even amid the recession, we’ve been able to grow,” adds Fuller. “There are lots of things you can do without when times are tough, but suitable water for drinking, cooking and cleaning is always a concern for people. Culligan by WaterCo delivers a variety of solutions to approximately 1,500 homes and businesses each day across the nationwide network with invaluable services.”
Customers can count on Culligan for in-home water testing for chlorine, sulfur, hard water, iron and other contaminates. The company offers certified laboratory testing and specialty testing for specific concerns when purchasing a new home where well water or other non-municipal supplies are the primary source of drinking water. The Culligan Man also delivers bottled water, portable exchange tank delivery and removal, water conditioning rentals, sales, maintenance and system sanitization.
Since acquiring 16 Culligan locations, Fuller says the company remains in acquisition mode. “We’ve grown 6 to 8 percent internally, but most of our growth is external through acquisitions,” he notes. “We’re building on a rich history and we want to continue purchasing companies while growing internally and externally.” When water is a concern, Culligan by WaterCo is the answer, with a trusted name built on over 77 years of industry-leading experience and expertise.
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