By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Even after all those years, Bob Perry still calls on current and prospective customers.
“I go out every day and see customers. I’d rather take a beating than sit in an office,” Perry said.
He came to Enid in 1970 to take over Advanced Water Solutions, an Ecowater dealer. He had been working in the business since 1963 in Topeka, Kan. His boss had a dealership in Enid that was not doing well and asked Bob to come and take it over.
Today, business is good.
“It’s like every business. It’s good if you work hard at it, and it’s not good if you don’t go to work every day,” Perry said.
There is a lot of water in Oklahoma that is not good. Some of the water is hard, he said, and some contains high levels of nitrates, arsenic or lead. Water must meet federal and state standards, but still may have some type of chemicals in it, he said.
The maximum level of nitrates allowed in drinking water is 10 parts per million, but a few years ago it was 13 PPM, Perry said. The maximum level for lead also is much lower than it was a few years ago because it was found to cause damage at lower levels than first believed. In addition, field tests to determine the levels were not available to test water until relatively recently.
“Enid was a great move for me. I say frequently Oklahoma and God have been absolutely great for me and my family, and not in that order,” Perry said.
Bob Perry was born in Salmon, Idaho, and moved with his family to Topeka, Kan., at age 6. He was president of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at Washburn University and was responsible for obtaining a speaker for the alumni dinner.
“I managed to get the most boring speaker in history,” he said.
John Leven, an alumnus, happened to attend the dinner. He invited and finally convinced Perry, who already had an office supply firm job, to come see him for a job.
However, Perry said he was not enthused at first. Leven took him into the warehouse, put a system together and placed it in his parents’ house. Perry said after his first bath, he was a believer and became a better salesman.
In the past 43 years, his business has grown from three employees to 18 employees, and he has thousands of customers across the state.
Perry and his wife, Debra, together own Advanced Water Solutions, an independent distributor of Ecowater and other brands of equipment. He said anything goes when looking for a solution to a customers water problems.
“Our primary focus is solving problems,” he said.
Originally, Perry sold only water softeners. At one time a Norman church built a new structure but could not obtain a certificate of occupancy from the city of Norman due to extremely hard water, which contained nitrates.
Perry said he is proud he was able to install equipment that solved the problem and allowed the church to obtain the certificate of occupancy for less than $7,000.
By working with Brueggeman Engineering in Enid, he also was able to resolve a problem at Twin Lakes Community Center near Crescent for about $11,000, which was less than the group had been quoted.
His first sale locally was to a Carrier family who wanted to go on vacation. However, they had a cow and could not leave because someone had to milk the cow. Perry knew how to milk cows and told them if they bought the system he would milk the cow day and night for the week they were gone. He did that and now sells products to the family’s children.
At 70, Perry plans to continue what he is doing. His business has become a family business, with his son, son in-law and two sisters in-law now working alongside him and his wife.
“We feel like everyone who works here is a member of our family, and we treat them that way,” Perry said.