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Splash Digest

Dealer Spotlight: How Claverack Pump Found Success with Diversification

Jul 18, 2017

From our company’s earliest days, Water-Right has pursued opportunities to work with those in the well drilling, pump installation, and plumbing trades. There’s a natural connection between those businesses and the water treatment solutions we provide.

An excellent example of how successful this connection can be comes from an Evolve® dealer in New York state. Claverack Pump has strategically diversified its business model to gain a competitive advantage. We spoke with Chuck Keyser, who runs the business along with his son, Alex, to find out how they’ve made it work so well.

Chuck’s grandfather started the company in 1946 and went from blast hole drilling in the local quarries to the well drilling business. Pump installation began in the ‘70s with Chuck’s father, Rey. When Chuck took over in the ‘80s, he saw filtration as a logical next step and began branching out.

“It just made sense that you should complete the job by not only getting the water to the customer at a good flow rate and pressure, but also getting the quality of the water to where they’ll be happy,” Chuck says.

Finding the Right Partner

One of Claverack Pump’s suppliers was selling Water-Right systems, and Chuck recalls noticing a big difference in the quality of those units compared to others. Plus, he appreciated all the educational opportunities Water-Right made available to contractors as well as the service and advice sales managers had to offer.

“Greg Gruett (Water-Right Vice President) used to stop in the shop and help us out when we had problem water,” Chuck says. “We established a good relationship. I consider him a friend. After that, I exclusively used Water-Right, and down the road when my son, Alex, started to run the business, we grew to become an Evolve dealer.”

Claverack Pump has been able to help Water-Right out as well. Their region in the Northeast was ideal for field testing our ozone generator. The Hudson, New York area tends to have problem water involving iron and sulfur bacteria, an issue which ozone is effective at resolving.

“That was a big step in the direction we needed around here,” Chuck says. “It really helped us along the Hudson River. Working with Water-Right, we were able to help develop ozone along with a few other things so we can take that water and make it usable.”

The partnership between Claverack Pump and Water-Right was pivotal in refining an innovation that is a water treatment sanitization solution for many homeowners.

“Now we’re getting to a point where we recognize problem water in areas better and better so we can use the proper equipment to get that water cleaned up,” says Chuck. “It didn’t happen overnight. It took some time, but we’ve gotten pretty good at it.”

Opportunities Abound

Chuck Keyser’s decision to expand into water treatment and filtration has led to plenty of new business for Claverack Pump. The area of the state where the dealership is located is a popular place for people from Albany and New York City to retire and build vacation homes.

“There’s a lot of very nice homes that we supply water and filtration to,” Chuck says. “These homeowners are very concerned about the quality of their water, and they don’t quite understand how you can drill a hole in the ground and get water. So, they want filtration just for peace of mind.”

Much of the work that Claverack does is directly connected to homes in rural areas where crews are digging wells and installing pumps. However, having the knowledge and ability to add filtration means there are opportunities to treat municipal water as well.

Those capabilities came in handy on major commercial work involving different types of water.

“We recently did a large job for a fish farm that raises steelhead and shrimp. They use a combination of wells and city water,” Chuck explains. “We did a big well field for them, which involved a lot of air shocking and hydrofracking. Then, we put Water-Right equipment inside.”

It should come as no surprise that water quality is awfully important when you’re raising fish, and the team at Claverack Pump was able to install a variety of solutions.

“With the city water, they didn’t have the pressure they needed. So, we put a variable-speed booster pump in to give them adequate pressure. Then, we ran it through green sand filters and carbon filters to take out the iron for the shrimp, which don’t like iron. The other thing we had to do was dechlorinate the water for the fish eggs in the hatchery.”

Other commercial customers for Claverack include a large retirement home for nuns and a variety of organic farms, which need help with irrigation and minor filtration.

Balancing Business Objectives

As the Keysers have grown Claverack Pump, Chuck and Alex have been mindful to create teams of workers who specialize in different aspects of the business.

“A few of us float, including my son and I,” Chuck explains. “We have a drilling crew and four pump crews who also know about the basics of filtration. We send them to the Water-Right Water School so if they do run into an issue, they can bypass the unit or program it. Then we have two filtration crews and that’s all they do.”

Chuck says bringing filtration into the mix was almost like starting a new business within the existing one. That’s partly because solving water quality problems can be more complicated than issues that emerge with pumps.

“With filtration, you could be filtering out sulfur or clay; sometimes you’re adding UV disinfection. There are lots of things to consider.”

Another difference is the way you deal with customer concerns and attitudes.

“The filtration aspect takes on a life of its own,” he says. “You’re dealing with people in a different way. You have to be sensitive to the customer’s needs. It’s a different set of questions you need to answer.”

He’s noticed that filtration customers, especially those in expensive homes, can be tougher to please. However, taking the time to deal with them in a patient manner tends to be worth the extra effort.

“The hardest customer to take care of is probably the one who’s going to bring you the most work,” Chuck says. “That’s the way you need to approach it.”

Over the years, Claverack Pump has developed a solid reputation as a trustworthy local business. In fact, the dealership recently won a Best of Columbia County award from the chamber of commerce. Chuck says the fact that Claverack Pump diversified its offerings not only made the company more successful, it’s also made them more valuable in the eyes of the community.

Make sure to check out the new Claverack Pump website. The dealership recently updated to an Evolve dealer web template. The improved search engine optimization, design, and user experience will likely bring them even more new business!

Learn more about our CCWG Web Template Program in a post from Erik Koglin as well as a Dealer Spotlight featuring Prairie State Water Solutions.