Ken Hulse, general manager of Culligan of Oregon, joined the company in January 2020. “They decided to initiate me by throwing a worldwide pandemic at me,” Ken jokes. Yet, even in tumultuous times, people still need clean and safe water. Ken, who has worked in executive management throughout his career, is proud to be working for a company deemed an essential business. We spoke with him about some of the water problems in his area, how Culligan helps fix them, and why he’s so glad he works for the company.
Culligan of Oregon has locations in Portland, Albany, and Springfield/Eugene. How would you describe your service area geographically?
It’s a pretty wide swath. If you look at a map of Oregon and draw a box from the coast almost due west to east to the Cascades and then north up to the state line, around Vancouver, Washington, that’s who we serve. There are times when we go over the Cascades for some servicing and some commercial work.
What are some common water problems you come across?
We’re doing a lot of hard water treatment for customers with municipal water. We’re putting in softening systems to help with the lifespan of their washers, reduce buildup in their sinks, and make their skin feel better after showering. We’re also installing a lot of reverse osmosis systems to purify the drinking water and improve the taste.
Once you get outside the municipalities, there are a lot of private well systems. Those will be just as varied as the number of customers who have wells, because the water table changes so much depending on the time of year. There can be environmental effects on the water quality and supplies. In some areas we’re dealing with arsenic, and in other areas there might be environmental pollutants that come from companies. We can look at an area and generally know what problems they may have, like higher iron content, but until we do specific water tests, it’s hard to know what every customer needs and at what level.
What kinds of treatments do you offer well owners in addition to softeners?
There are chlorine treatments that kill bacteria and also a post-treatment ultraviolet light (UV) system that neutralizes the bacteria so they become nonproductive. Some people do a combination of both with filters and other components. For a lot of people, the UV is there for peace of mind. They just want to know that the UV is going to neutralize anything present in water even after treatment.
Why is preventative maintenance service so important?
If you buy a vehicle and just drive it around, and you don’t ever change the oil and you burn up the engine, it’s because you’re not taking care of the system to make sure it’s functioning properly. We have technicians and all the backing of Culligan to make sure systems keep functioning in their proper way for a long time.
Has working for Culligan changed the way you view water?
I’ve become a water snob. We have good water in our home, and we drink good water at work. There’s an opinion we have pretty dang good drinking water in Oregon, but if I drink water at a restaurant, I notice the difference. Treated, good water really makes a difference in taste.
What do you like about your job?
Culligan is an international brand that has been around a long time. We have technology we’re working with to treat something that we use all day, every day in our lives. There’s a lot more we can do in our markets here to improve the water quality for a lot more folks. It’s exciting.