By Donna Kreutz
Donovan Adfield is natural-born salesman. At the age of 19, he started a vacuum-cleaner sales and service company that grew exponentially over the next 15 years and won awards as one of the nation’s top dealers. Then in May of 2014, he discovered a passion for water. A business acquaintance suggested he look into the franchise-like RainSoft business model. Adfield discussed this possibility with RainSoft Regional Director Don Miller and began nearly immediately to recruit sales staff and make “a serious volume of sales” from his base in Loveland, CO, Miller recalled.
“Today, the Loveland office of Home Water Solutions is in a 500,000-population category and we are the number-one office in the United States,” Adfield said. The company serves northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. “We go from Cheyenne all the way to Colorado Springs.” Rapid growth allowed him to purchase RainSoft of Denver from long-time owners Peter Waelti and Rocky Wall. That office is in Thornton, CO, a Denver suburb. “In 2018, we could triple our production because of the Denver market. And I may be on the verge of opening another office in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” where he has contacts from the vacuum-cleaner days who could run the business there.
Adfield is a hands-on businessman. “I have done well over 100 installs of water treatment and filtration systems myself. I come from a sales background, not really a service background. I definitely wanted to learn the service side and installation part. You can only teach what you know.” He is hyper-focused on training his team of 35 employees. “We do meetings every day” on varied aspects of the business. “We cover testing and demonstration, water chemistry, marketing, sales, closing, installation in unusual situations. We want to make sure everybody is well trained. All my technicians carry equipment to test for lead in the water. We run into a lot of that around here and not many other dealers do this.”
Adfield quickly lost interest in the vacuum business and closed it. “I wanted to focus on water 100 percent. I really like water a lot.” He then hired many of his former employees to work with him in the water business. “We’ve done very well.” Why? “Because we sell the best product on the planet—the premium RainSoft RO model that comes with a full factory-backed, lifetime warranty for either of the two original purchasers—plus the ease of lead generation with multiple retail partners like The Home Depot and JCPenney. We are the off-site service provider for The Home Depot.”
One key to the company’s success is the house-by-house bottle-drop program offering free water testing. “We have a passenger van that holds a 12-person crew, including a supervisor. Monday through Friday, the crew hangs bottles on door knobs for residents to fill with tap water, then comes back the next day to pick up the samples.” It’s labor intensive but pays off. “We schedule appointments to come out and do more extensive tests—not just for hardness but taste, acidity, pH levels, chlorine, lead, iron and sulfur. For the iron, we offer a chemical-free iron removal system for the whole home. It is a vast improvement over the older technologies still on the market.” Specific regional challenges include mountain sites with “terrible water and brine wells. Our team can make that look, smell and feel like mountain spring water.”
Home Water Solutions specializes in providing water treatment, water filtration, water purification, alkaline water, RO, water conditioning and eco-friendly laundry solutions. “Our environmentally responsible water treatment services improve the quality of life for our customers and their families. Through a unique process, our home-water treatment strips the water of contaminants and impurities, leaving the home with a higher quality of water, water that tastes and feels clean and hydrates better.”
Adfield’s team focuses on providing excellent customer service. “We have a 4.5-star rating out of a maximum of five— one of the highest in the market. We work hard for the customer to earn high scores on online reviews, which will be even more important in the future. Our customers recommend us to their friends. Customer-service education is a must for all companies that want to improve and grow.” Home Water Solutions also is a member of WQA and the Better Business Bureau.
Looking ahead, Adfield said key regulations will continue to become more stringent, like lowering the acceptable level of arsenic. He also sees the smart home as a reality in the future “and RainSoft already has the WiFi-connected EC5 water conditioner and the Smart Home RO drinking water unit, which also has a lifetime warranty on all but the consumables and soon will be connected to the app on your smart phone.”
Both Adfield’s sons share his passion for the water treatment business and started working at the company when they were 12. The oldest, Jayden, now 16, has done installations, marketing and customer service. “The only thing he hasn’t done yet is sell, which he is eager to do.”
This means the future is bright. Adfield’s ambitious vision for the company is “to remain highly efficient and become the number-one dealer for RainSoft in the world. The 10-year plan includes sitting on the beach with a Corona, with Jaydon running the company.”