EcoWater enters Albert Lea market

Published 9:31 am Monday, July 14, 2008

Water cooler conversations in Albert Lea could have a change of scenery with a new water treatment company now in the area. EcoWater Systems, 1816 E. Main St., begins regular business hours today.

The new water treatment company has been in operation since May, and Jim & Dude’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning has carried the brand in the past. But now EcoWater Systems has its own office in town — in addition to the offices in Rochester, Winona and Austin — to offer customers the company’s full services.

General Manager Greg Reese said he opened EcoWater because “it was a great opportunity for myself and the community.”

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The company offers water softeners, reverse osmosis drinking water, bottled water, water coolers, iron filters, salt deliveries and water softener maintenance.

In addition to the business opportunity for Reese, he said he likes the fact that Culligan Water Conditioning has competition in town. Reese himself was a Culligan man for 12 years and has been in the water treatment system for 16 years.

“I’m a water man,” he said.

But after Culligan bought out MI B&J Water in February, “it left a void in our community,” he said. The franchise was coming to town anyway, Reese said, so he took up the opportunity.

“We want good, fair, friendly competition,” Reese said.

With Culligan’s purchase of MI B&J Water, there was a management change that seemed the right time for Reese to make the transition, he said.

Culligan Manager Noah Hawks said when Reese left Culligan he took a few employees with him, some of which had noncompete clauses in their work contracts, so they aren’t working at EcoWater yet.

“It was a pretty rough situation,” Hawks said.

Since EcoWater has opened, he said Culligan has lost several bottled water customers. Hawks said he wouldn’t mind competition in town, but this competitor has been difficult for Culligan.

“Competition is healthy,” he said.

There are five people working at EcoWater currently, with plans for growth, according to Reese.

“This is going to be a long-term adventure,” he said. “We’re here to stay.”

1816 E. Main St., Albert Lea

Monday through Friday

8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

EcoWater Systems is holding a grand opening celebration July 18 and 19.

EcoWater in Albert Lea already has residential and commercial customers. Reese said the company offers hometown, family service. His wife, Joanne, is the receptionist.

The water treatment company is the oldest in the industry, beginning in 1925 in Woodbury. Plus, everything is made in the United States, Reese said.

The company spends a lot of time and money on research and development, according to Reese. One amenity EcoWater offers is a remote control that gives the homeowner updates on the water softener through HydroLink Communication Technology.