By Donna Kreutz
Tom Faulkner makes quite an impression on his customers. They send him baked goods at Christmas and enthusiastically introduce family members to him in the grocery store. Faulkner is the founder of Crystal Clear Water Concepts of Ohio, a family business he established 10 years ago. “I build friendships,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
One family in particular will never forget his kindness and generosity. Chris and Heather Tomlison have five young children. Life was good until Heather was diagnosed with a rare and debilitating brain disease. She hadn’t been able to work or drive for a year while waiting to get surgery approved by the insurance company. Expenses mounted. Then their old water softener went out. “There was no fixing it,” Faulkner said. So he installed a brand new Hankscraft H2O Products RevV4 softening system—at no charge. “It was the right thing to do. The Tomlison’s have been through a lot and we wanted to do what we could to alleviate some of their stress. I was glad I was in a position to do that for them.”
Tomlison said, “The folks at Crystal Clear came to the rescue and gave us peace of mind and one less thing to worry about. We are incredibly thankful for their help.” Since then, they’ve become fast friends. Faulkner said, “Our boys know each other. Chris sends me texts about how his wife is doing in and out of the hospital.” Hankscraft even put out a news release about Faulkner’s good deed. That’s how WC&P International learned about his dealership. “I like building positive relationships. What I find the most rewarding about my business is the people. I love my customers and I love being able to help them. They become like family to me.” Even in high school Faulkner knew “whatever I did, I’d be dealing with people. I love people. I could not stand working a press or in a factory behind the scenes. I want to be out there with people.”
Passion for good water, healthier lifestyle
Faulkner’s first career was in auto sales where he worked for 18-plus years. He tired of the long hours, wanting to spend more time with his family. “I decided to take some time off.” When Faulkner, his wife, daughter and son moved to Canal Winchester (a small town in central Ohio) they bought a house that was on well water. “Then I answered an ad for a water conditioning company and got intrigued. I was doing training and wanted to know more and more, on the sales side, on the service side, taking classes.” That company closed about a year and a half later. By then Faulkner was hooked and ready to start his own business. That was in 2007.
“I have become passionate about how good water can help provide a healthier lifestyle for people. My wife and daughter have some issues with their skin and I was fascinated by how much water affected these problems. Good quality water helps, but whenever we were traveling and they didn’t have clean, healthy water, they would have outbreaks. It became a priority to make them feel more confident and more comfortable daily.”
Crystal Clear Water Concepts serves customers in central and southeastern Ohio, as well as neighboring northern Kentucky. “We treat many water problems. Heavy hardness, smelly sulfur water and heavy iron are the main areas of concern. We test the water and install the proper equipment to resolve the problems. Some of the best-selling products are Hankscraft RevV4, rotary-valve softening systems, air-injected sulfur and iron units and home drinking systems.” The business is mainly residential, “that’s the bread-and-butter portion,” plus some commercial.
“We’re not a huge company by any means. I’m a small-town dealer. We don’t do any advertising. Everything is word of mouth. Just giving people good service and treating them well has kept us going. Even in 2006, 2007 and 2008, we were still able to keep everything going. We’ve done very well and grown little by little every year.” His staff is small: Faulkner, one installer and his daughter, Bailee, who helps with the paperwork. She’s a freshman attending college on a softball scholarship.
Next generation at your service
Faulkner’s son, Wes, is 12, likes playing sports, yet spends a lot of time at the Crystal Clear office. “He has his own little work area. He has a WS1 class Clack valve he can tear apart and rebuild. He can build a 5600 valve all by himself. I always say he’ll be an engineer of some type. He’s fascinated with how things work. He’s very hands-on and eager to learn. He likes the fact that what we do helps people.” Sometimes when Wes is off from school, he goes along on service calls. “He puts on his little uniform, picks out the filters and is ready to go. My customers don’t mind. They’ll ask me a question and he’ll answer. The Hankscraft folks get a kick out of him too, showing how he can take their valve apart. He’s always wanted to be part of the business. He’s even listed on the company website: contact Tom or Wes at (614) 862-8600.
“The one change I would like to make over the next 10 years is to utilize my Hankscraft H2O distributorship and sell to other small companies. This would allow them to have a quality product with proper training on use and installation of the equipment. I would like to see companies provide more training to their technicians.”
Faulkner stays in regular touch with his customer friends. “I’m very hands-on. If I install a unit for you today, a year from now you’ll hear from me. I send a letter or card. If I don’t hear back, I follow up with a phone call. Then I come out, pull the unit apart, check the internals and retest the water. Cities and wells change. We keep your water up to date. I treat my customers with the utmost respect. The bottom line is we provide them with high-quality work and great customer service.”