Getting to Know Your Culligan Lenox Dealer
Paul Duma, general manager of Culligan of Lenox, knows his community. Having lived “essentially 40 seconds up the road” from his store for the past 15 years and volunteered with the Lenox Fire Department for 14 years, Duma is a wealth of local knowledge in an area that has a high share of seasonal residents. “You name a street in town; I know where it is,” he says. When it comes to water, that local savvy—built through a decade and a half of experience working first as a service technician and an installer and now as a manager—makes Paul a resource for residents who may find themselves, for example, in a home that relies on well water for the first time. We spoke Paul about what he loves most about his job and how he and his team are helping Lenox-area customers address their top water concerns.
What are the leading water quality issues in Lenox?
Primarily it’s hard water and iron, and a decent amount of low pH. The county (Berkshire County) is predominantly wells, and with wells, you see a lot of bacteria in the water, so we do a good amount of UV water treatment, too.
As far as hard water, the level is usually in the mid-20s grains per gallon. (*Note: The not-for-profit Water Quality Association defines hard water as containing 7.0–10.5 grains of dissolved calcium and magnesium per gallon; “very hard water” contains more than 10.5 grains per gallon.) When we try to explain hard water to people, that it refers to calcium and magnesium in the water, they’ll think, “Well, that’s not anything bad.” But then they see their coffee pot, and it’s got that white mess to it, and I tell them, “You should get none of that,” and that really catches their attention. They think, “Oh, I shouldn’t get this? I can fix this?” And I tell them, “You can fix this; you can not have to scrub this off your glasses or your shower doors.”
You mentioned that the area you serve is primarily well water. What do people need to know about untreated well water if they haven’t dealt with it before?
A lot of people have this misinformed idea, “Well, I have well water; well water’s OK.” It seems to be this idea that, “It comes from the ground; it must be OK.” But usually it’s the exact opposite. Usually well water is the problem water. I’ve learned for most of my adult life that most of the time, well water is not OK.
There are a lot of second homes in the area—the population of Lenox can almost triple in the summer—and wells are a foreign experience to them. They’re used to living in New York City or somewhere else, and they don’t know what they’re looking at in terms of a pressure tank or anything. They may get the gist of, well, a well has a limited supply of water, but they call us to come out and explain a water softener, a UV treatment, a filter.
People’s education is changing somewhat. Now, with more of an emphasis on clean drinking water and it being bacteria-free, more people are interested in what’s in their water.
What kind of feedback do you get from customers?
Our longtime customers who’ve had our tanks forever; they swear by Culligan. We may have installed their original tank back in the ‘60s, and we’ve been delivering tanks to them for years; we’ve always been there when they needed. They know us on a first-name basis.
What gives you pride in your Culligan of Lenox team?
Between me, my service tech and my maintenance installer, we have roughly 72 years of experience across the three of us. Guys who I worked with in the field (as a service technician) are still out there in the field; they’re good guys, still out there doing their job. I have customers who call, and the minute they find out (it’s me), they’re thrilled that I’m still here, because I was in the field for nine years. Our technician Jim has been here 36 years—he knows everything, from commercial to old systems and new ones. Bill, my installer, he’s a licensed plumber (by Massachusetts code, a licensed plumber must be on staff for water treatment businesses), which is a huge bonus. Inspections, permits and all of that—he knows his codes.
What do you still love about working in water? What gives you personal pride in being a Culligan GM?
It’s just something I’ve always liked. This is only the third job I’ve ever had. I started here at 20; I’ve been here 16 years. At first I was a route driver; then I learned service and install; then I started learning as much as I could on the computer systems. At first it just paid the bills, and then as I had the chance to learn and move up, it was something that gave me a chance. I didn’t come in with a degree, but this gave me a chance to learn this and that and move my way up. If nothing else, I’d like to be able to hire people in and do the same with them.
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