Get to Know the Water Treatment Experts at Culligan of West Warwick
Jim O’Hara joined Culligan as a route driver in 1992 and became a general manager in 2000. Think he’s seen it all? Not quite yet. “I’m still learning things, and every day is different, which makes it fun,” says Jim, who is now general manager of three New England branches: Culligan of West Warwick, R.I.; Culligan of Windsor, Conn.; and Culligan of Auburn, Mass. We spoke with the industry veteran about water problems in his service area, how Culligan solves them, evolving concerns about water, and why he’s stuck around for nearly three decades.
What are some popular products that help homeowners?
In many cases we’ll put in a total home system that softens municipal water and also reduces the chlorine that municipals use to disinfect the water and keep it safe. Of course, whether you have municipal supply or well water, everybody needs good drinking water. A lot of people will use a reverse osmosis system. It will take care of chlorine as well, but it will also remove dissolved solids and non-solid contaminates. Most people love the drinking water systems and the fact they can use them for rinsing vegetables, making tea, etc.
Well water in your region has different degrees of hardness. What other issues do you find with wells, and how can Culligan improve them?
In the northern part of the territory, we run into more of what we call “problem water,” which is iron—red water, the stuff that’s really nasty and ruins clothing and everything else. We can install a high efficiency water softener that will reduce the hardness and take out soluble iron. We’ll also put in what we call a Big Blue, which is a particulate filter, and that will remove the harder iron.
When we move out a little bit further east toward the Rhode Island market, you tend to have more low pH or acidic water, so that’s where we’re actually doing more neutralization systems. And then all the way down to the coast, we have situations where customers have what we call saltwater intrusion, where the aquifer tends to dry up a bit and saltwater from the ocean fills that void. We can install a reverse osmosis system that treats the entire home.
Do you also install ultraviolet (UV) systems for wells?
Yes. They make sure the water is biologically safe and will kill bacteria like E. coli. With a UV, you know your water is going to be constantly taken care of, regardless of what changes there are in the water source or supply.
In fact, customers should have UV for both wells and municipal water. Municipals are going to chlorinate the water, but you hear of a lot of boil alerts like if a water main breaks. Somebody who has a UV light wouldn’t have to worry about that.
Do people think about drinking water differently today than when you started in the business?
Definitely. Twenty-eight years ago, there really wasn’t a lot of bottled water. The mentality was like, “Why would anybody buy bottled water?” People have become more health-conscious and concerned about what they’re consuming in their water.
Like you, many people on your team have a long history with Culligan. How do customers benefit from that longevity?
Sometimes the same problems just respond differently to different forms of treatment. Having that experience certainly does help.
What do you like about your job so much?
We like to say that once you’re here for about three or four years, you tend to stay for life. You end up bleeding Culligan blue. There are a lot of great people at Culligan that I’ve met over the years and still work with. Also, we have an opportunity to manage a resource that is one of the most important and is essential to life, so it’s a very important job that we do. We can improve people’s standards of living, and that’s a nice and rewarding thing to see.
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