Patrick Stoute, a Culligan sales manager for residential sales, has been with Culligan of Canada for nearly a decade—but his current tenure with the company isn’t his first. Stoute first joined Culligan back in 2007, and then, in 2009, he went to work for a short time for a competitor. Stoute rejoined Culligan in 2010, returning, he says, to a company that people known and trust and that provides a high level of support to its sales and service reps. We spoke with Patrick about what he loves most about his job and how he and his team are helping customers address leading water quality issues in Sudbury.
What are the top water quality issues you see in Sudbury?
A majority of customers here are on municipal water, but the source of the water is well water, groundwater, which is harder than municipal lake water. You get into some very hard water. (*Note: “Hard water,” as defined by the not-for-profit Water Quality Association, contains between 7.0 and 10.5 grains of dissolved calcium and magnesium per gallon; “very hard water” contains more than 10.5 grains per gallon.)
With hard water, people will see stains and spotting on their glasses, shower doors and shower heads. It can cause skin irritation, too. One solution we might offer is the Culligan HE (high-efficiency) Water Softener—it’s the best unit on the market—a whole-house filter, which would be a carbon filter; and then a drinking-water system.
Sudbury is one of our more “problem water” markets. There are more private wells (than in some other markets), and you get into issues where they have really high iron. We might go to a chlorination system where we put in a system that would treat the water, the whole tank, with chlorine. The chlorine would neutralize the iron, the sulfur, and then we have other pieces of equipment like a carbon filter to remove the chlorine. We recommend that customers change their filter once a year.
Ultraviolet (UV) sterilization also is something we recommend for all customers on private wells. On a private well, because there’s no chlorination, we always recommend a UV light.
Water softeners come in different sizes and capacities. What factors determine the water-softener capacity needed for a particular home?
The capacity would be determined by the number of people in the house, the hardness of the water, and the gallons used on a daily basis. Let’s say an average family of four uses 250 gallons per day; we would multiply that by the number of people in the house times the hardness of the water.
Then we would generally factor in a three- or seven-day regeneration cycle; usually we’ll go seven days, because the less the water softener regenerates, the less salt and water the customer is going to use. We want to make sure customers are not going through a lot of salt or a lot of water.
What are some of the questions you hear most often from customers? How has their interest in and understanding of water quality changed during your time with Culligan?
I think one leading question is, “What’s in my water?” People are curious about that. I find that people are more educated now about the water that they use, and they’re looking for how they can improve it.
Bottled water sales have really surged—I don’t think you can find anybody really now that drinks tap water; bottled water is definitely dominating what people drink. People are always looking for alternatives, and we offer that.
Is there anything residents are often surprised to learn about their water supply?
In terms of chlorine, the chlorine levels will differ from municipality to municipality. Municipalities are always testing their water daily and adjusting the chlorine levels accordingly. Also, fluoride: There are some municipalities that use it; there are some that don’t. There’s always debate on whether fluoride prevents tooth decay.
In some areas you might have a high level of sodium in the water. We encourage water consultants to pull a water report for their region just so customers can what municipalities are testing for and what are the acceptable minimums for certain things.
What are the top comments you hear from customers about their Culligan water system?
Once we get it installed, folks are really happy with the taste of their water. They see the difference even with simple things like ice cubes, or when they’re boiling pasta water or making rice. If they make tea, they see a big difference with the tea because our water plays a big part in the tea tasting better and smelling better, and they’re not getting any stains in their cup or their kettle. I tell customers, too, that I’ve had a kettle for about five years; I use our water in it; and it looks like the first day I bought it.
On the water-softening side, they see a big difference with their skin, and with not having to use as much soap, detergent, shampoo. They see the benefit of those savings right away. And they’re not getting all of the staining and the water spots that they were before. They’re really happy with the results.
What do you love most about your job? What keeps you passionate about your work?
For me, it’s just seeing other people being successful—helping them to reach their goals. Our team, they’re all professionals; many of them have been with the company a very long time. They’ve helped a lot of people over the years, and they’ve seen a lot of different situations. They know what to offer in terms of solutions. I’m very proud of the professionalism and knowledge of our team.
Also, I like what I do because I think we’re in a great industry. We’re helping people improve the quality of their water—and not just the quality of their water, but they’re improving their life with the quality of their water. They’re saving time and they’re saving money. It’s a win-win.