Culligan Possibly Seeking Bankruptcy Filing

Culligan Possibly Seeking Bankruptcy Filing
Posted in: Other Companies
By Mark Timmons
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Culligan Possibly Seeking Bankruptcy Filing

The times - they are a changing! At least that's what Mr. Dylan told us. According to Thompson Reuters News & Insights, Culligan International Co, which sells water coolers and filters and installs water softening devices in homes, has hired restructuring advisers and is considering options including a possible bankruptcy, according to sources familiar with the matter. "Hey Culligan Man" has been around since I can remember and I doubt that it will go away anytime soon, but the economy and growing Culligan dealer dissatisfaction have caused this to happen.  The water treatment business has changed and most companies have been slow to change from the "blue suede shoe, in-home, high-pressure, commissioned salesman," in fact, most companies in the Point-of-Use Water Treatment Industry have continued to ride this dying business model. American consumers hate the slick, high-pressure sales tactics employed by many water treatment companies.  The industry has been in a free-fall the past several years.  I just returned from the Annual Water Quality Association trade show in Las Vegas which was the smallest in both attendees and exhibitors I can remember. The big box stores and internet have forever changed things.  Most water dealers are waiting "for it to come back."  It ain't ever coming back.  This is the new paradigm.  Culligan has a myriad of problems, but it's biggest asset is that name.  Culligan dealers are leaving as fast as rats off a sinking ship.  If I were Culligan, I'd be looking to take that name en mass to the Big Box stores, where the multitudes would jump on that brand name.  In the meantime, consumers demand excellent service without the imposition of high pressure blue suede shoe sales tactics.  The water industry needs to take note and change... or maybe not - Their reluctance to change is great for companies like us!
March 10, 2012
Comments
Randy Easton
March 12, 2012 at 2:26 PM
As a Culligan dealer whose business is growing about the only thing I found to agree with in your article is that times are changing but please don't assume you're the only one keeping up. Contrary to your assertion, Culligan dealers are not leaving the system - quite the opposite as most are making significant new investments in their business and enjoying the fruits of an expanding customer base. Also, please don't assume that just because you ship someone a water treatment product you have solved their problem. We actually get next to our customers - go to their homes and businesses - assess their needs and apply equipment appropriately. I guess that's hard to do from an order desk such as yours but - hey - there's room for your model of doing business. Whether it stands the test of 75 years as Culligan has is hard to judge, however. Our parents taught us not to believe everything we see and read and so before regurgitating false information from a wire service story you should check out the facts. The Reuters story is false in almost all of its particulars but I guess since someone else printed it you thought you'd use it to your benefit. Oh well, facts are stubborn things as you will learn when the Culligan Man keeps going strong for another 75 years. It's tough being number one but all of us in the Culligan family will just keep bearing the burden. Someone has to and I'm very proud that I'm part of it. Make it a great day - I know you've made mine.
mark
March 12, 2012 at 5:47 PM
Randy, There are lots of good Culligan dealers, but I know for a fact that many remain dissatisfied. The bankruptcy rumor was rampant at the WQA show and repeated in trade journals as well. It would be unfortunate if it were false. I think the Culligan brand is one of the strongest in any industry. Are you saying that Culligan (as a corporation) is growing (i.e., experiencing greater sales)? You accused me of "regurgitating false information" but then you proceed to do exactly what you accused me of when you said: <em>"don’t assume that just because you ship someone a water treatment product you have solved their problem. We actually get next to our customers – go to their homes and businesses – assess their needs and apply equipment appropriately. I guess that’s hard to do from an order desk such as yours."</em> I have been in this business for over 40 years and am a CWS-VI, CI and CSR and am one of the longest-tenured CWS-VI's (V), since 1981. My brother works in the business and has 30 years of experience and we have 6 Certified Water Specialists as well as a person with their Waste Water License. You shouldn't assume that we are order takers or that we don't take care of our customers. We ran a regular retail dealership for many years, but over the past 3 years we have evolved from a traditional dealership to a water treatment dealership that utilizes the internet to sell our products. We are NOT an internet business - we are a water treatment company that utilizes the web as one of our vehicles to reach the customer. We require a water test, consult with the homeowner or business, have them take digital photos of the installation and proceed to solve their water problems. It's not for everyone... we admit that, and we sometimes refuse to sell to some consumers. But it is a growing segment of the market because the internet has made the world much smaller. Consumers are more educated and are smarter. We have doubled in each of the past two years and continue our growth because we do what we say, we are available 8 AM to 11 PM, 7 days a week, and treat people the way we like to be treated. That's why we have many repeat customers and referrals. This is the 21st Century. Times are changing. Water Dealers are dropping like files. I'm glad you are doing well, but most dealers aren't. We just do it differently than the Culligan man. Yes, Culligan is Number One, but it's an indictment on this industry that the Number One company is allegedly considering bankruptcy.
Randy Easton
March 12, 2012 at 6:42 PM
I’m not sure it’s profitable for either of us to get into a tit-for-tat on issues but you essentially made my point by acknowledging that the talk of bankruptcy is a “rumor.” Rumors have a nasty way of being false on their face but in spite of knowing it was a rumor you saw fit to print it anyway. Hmmmmmm. Also, I didn’t accuse you of anything. I merely called your customer service number and asked about your products and services. I asked about installations, shipping, etc. If I want help installing a unit I can call you until 11:00 PM. Great. What if I don’t want to install it myself – or can’t install itself myself? The information given to me by your own CSR clearly demonstrates that your business model is much different than ours. I understand that – it works for you – good for you – but why drag Culligan into the picture and discuss its fate when you have no specific knowledge of the facts. Again, you engaged in helping to make the rumor – again, your word - rampant. That practice to me is unprofessional. We all know that the Internet is a growing field for all types of products and services. We also all know that it isn’t the desired point of purchase for a large segment of customers. I suspect that many of your customers aren’t my customers. So be it, there’s room for us all. But, I don’t run around slamming desk jockeys and armchair water specialists because I can convince some people that is all you do. Sounds to me like you’re much more than that. Sounds like you are an experienced water treatment professional that takes what you do very seriously and also sounds like you’re good at it. Again, good for you. I applaud your initiative but take umbrage at the seeming smugness with which you dispense apparent wisdom about Culligan dealers. There are over 700 of us in the U.S. I’d expect some of them not to be happy. So, what purpose does it serve to bandy that about in your blog? I suspect there are some unhappy McDonald’s franchisees as well. Does it make you feel better, superior to speak ill of your competition? Does it add justification for you for having changed your business model? Remind yourself how smart you are and how dumb the rest of us are? Somebody has to service the products, deliver the salt, install the units, etc. You choose not to do that. Some things in the water industry will thrive via the Internet and some will not work. Some require hands-on application. Again, room for us all. Bully for capitalism. You do your thing – we’ll do ours. As for your comment that it’s an indictment on the industry that Culligan is allegedly considering bankruptcy – again you have no facts to base that on and I happen to know that it isn’t true and why it isn’t true – but you can’t seem to let it go. There is so much more to that story but I guess taking the time to understand might result in some inconvenient facts that don’t fit your narrative. If you boil this all down you seem to be compelled to speak poorly of a competitor rather than speak well about yourselves. If your sales are growing so fast how do you have time to create your blogs. Maybe what’s true in politics is also true in business – that negative advertising really does hurt the other guy. I don’t know – I’m just glad I’m not in the business of doing it. I sleep better that way.
mark
March 12, 2012 at 6:47 PM
Randy, We reach out to consumers and let them know there are alternatives. Until (if) Culligan files, it is a rumor, but the news service who reported it is not the NY Daily News or the National Enquirer. We frequently tell people to stay with their “Culligan” dealer. Reporting what was reported by the News Service and Water Technology On-Line is hardly negative – it’s just reporting the facts as available to me. I am less of a journalist than Water Tech and they reported it…. Insofar as Culligan dealers, I know some very good ones and very bad ones. I think there is room for us all, but changing the way you do business sometimes become necessary to survive… or thrive. In 2001, a company called Zappos started selling shoes on the internet and did $1.2 million dollars. In 2008, they did $1 Billion! In shoes! WOW! I don’t know where all of this is going to take us, but I know there are no good old days. I appreciate your input and I wish you success… unless you are selling against us. ;)
Emmett
March 30, 2012 at 7:43 PM
Mark Seals and Mike Bornhorst have run Culligan into the ground. They will be bankrupt soon. It is sad. Very sad!
Tami Vogeler
February 25, 2014 at 6:56 PM
We recently attempted to sue Culligan water, Inc. for a faulty whole house potassium water treatment system that poisoned our drinking water. We rented a potassium whole house water softener which was maintained by Culligan. My daughter was physically harmed, and while Culligan admitted to their negligence causing the poisoned water, they refuse to take action to prevent further damage to others. We requested that Culligan locate the faulty unit that was taken out of our home, they refused and admitted that they don't know where it is & that it could be in someone else's home right now! Here is the link to the CPSC incident report: http://www.saferproducts.gov/ViewIncident/1374272 Culligan offered us money to keep this incident confidential but we refused, and removed any confidentiality clauses so that we may tell our story & prevent others from being harmed by Culligan's negligence. Culligan "sold" us on the potassium whole house water softener, claiming that it would be safe for our family, even our 12yo daughter who has a kidney condition. I later discovered that The W.H.O. (World Health Organization) warns that those with cardiac or kidney disease should talk to their doctor before using potassium water softeners. Culligan should have known this! Toxicologist & water analysis reports from Associated Labs verify that Culligan-treated household water had copper sulphate values at 14.9mg/L, which was more than 10-fold the EPA's MCL (Maximum Contaminate Level) of 1.3mg/L (untreated household water had copper levels of .05mg/L). Culligan-treated water also contained acetone (maybe from glue on filters??), untreated household water had no acetone detected. The culligan-treated water had a very high hardness level (the culligan system was suppose to be softening the water) & the untreated household water had a much lower total hardness level than the treated water. The culligan treated water was harder and more corrosive than untreated household water & it caused leaching from our copper pipes, which caused copper levels to be at toxic levels in our drinking water. My 12yo daughter & I had documented symptoms which were consistant with copper poisoning. My daughter's symptoms were worse, she had bloody diarrhea and anemia. After the system was removed by culligan, our symptoms got better. My goal is to prevent others from being harmed by Culligan's negligence & to make them be accountable for providing safe treated water. Maybe they should be required to perform water analysis testing to be sure their systems are working properly. These companies are NOT regulated and therefore, have no accountability. Consumers like myself, take for granted that big corporations like Culligan are making our drinking water safer to consume. Our city drinking water districts have strict safety regulations to follow to be sure it is safe to ingest, as does bottled water. It is unbelievable that a company can come in and chemically alter our regulated city water and not have any safety standards to follow. Please help get this story out into the public, so that others can avoid being harmed by this careless company. Thank you, Tami Vogeler, RN C: (425)830-5328