Ethics & Education

June 3, 2015
WQP’s 2014 Dealer of the Year shares tips for success

About the author: Kate Cline is managing editor of WQP. Cline can be reached at [email protected] or 847.391.1007.

Each month, WQP features a dealer as Dealer of the Month. This spring, we conducted a survey to ask our readers which dealer of the 12 featured in 2014 they felt was deserving of the moniker “Dealer of the Year.” With a resounding 87% majority, they selected Scott Hillman of Integrity Plumbing & Water Treatment in Franklinville, N.Y., as the 2014 Dealer of the Year honoree.

Learning & Growing

Hillman opened his dealership in 2003, when he moved back to his home state of New York from Indiana. After a few years of centering the business on plumbing, he realized that his true passion lay in water treatment, and began transitioning his focus to that market. Today, the dealership’s territory includes two large counties as well as portions of surrounding counties, stretching into northern Pennsylvania. The business is primarily residential, with a small number of commercial customers and a growing cooler rental program. 

In western New York state, water quality problems can range from standard to unusual. “For the most part, I deal with the same basic water issues that most other dealers deal with, as far as a lot of iron [and] moderate hardness,” Hillman said. But the region’s oil-soaked past has led to some unique water quality challenges. “Most people don’t realize it, but it was a heavy oil industry area … so I do run into some methane, and even petroleum in water on occasion, so that’s a little bit unusual,” he explained.

Running a small business with what he describes as “two and a half employees,” including himself, Hillman has his work cut out for him. “As a sole proprietor, I don’t have a partner or even a boss [who] I can look to for advice on different contaminants,” he said. 

For this reason, he finds organizations such as the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) invaluable resources. Hillman joined WQA in 2013, and became certified later that year. He said he also finds events like WQA Aquatech USA to be good opportunities for ongoing education. “I go to the seminars, and I’m just in awe of some of the most brilliant minds in the world when it comes to water quality issues,” he said. “It’s just amazing, and I’m truly in awe of a lot of the minds that are here.”

Hillman also finds the chance to network with other dealers to be a major benefit. “It’s a chance to rub elbows with a huge number of like-minded people—something [that], as a sole proprietor, you don’t get a chance to do very often,” he said. “When I start talking about in-depth chemistry of water, people get pretty bored pretty quickly, so it’s kind of nice to hang out with other [water] people—other water geeks, so to speak.” 

Acting Ethically

When it comes to the future, Hillman sees customers’ increasing awareness of water quality issues and treatment options affecting dealerships. “As far as the trends go, I think the customers, being more and more aware, are going to be demanding more of their water treatment dealers to take care of their issues,” he said. To help meet those needs, he sees technologies such as template-assisted crystallization becoming more popular.

He also noted that as more emerging contaminants are discovered, and possibly regulated, dealers likely will reap the benefits. “Some of these government agencies are discovering more and more emerging contaminants, which is, I think, going to be an opportunity for dealers in the future for POU and POE opportunities,” he said.

Whatever opportunities arise in the future, Hillman has one major piece of advice for all dealers: to conduct themselves with ethics and integrity. He said he has found that unethical dealers have left a “bad taste in people’s mouths,” leading customers to be distrustful in general of water treatment dealers. “It makes it more difficult for dealers that are doing things properly and ethically to bridge that gap and try to help teach people about water,” he said. “If everybody works together, it helps the whole industry.”

If you would like to be featured as a Dealer of the Month, or know of a dealership you think should be featured, fill out the online nomination form at

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About the Author

Kate Cline

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