It’s tempting to rest on your laurels, especially when you’ve been in business for over 35 years. But complacency isn’t what enabled Jim Parker, founder of Warren-based Clear Water Filtration, to grow a successful business. Today, Jim’s children, Jen Fleckenstein and Steve Parker, continue his legacy of innovation and problem-solving.
Jim stumbled into the water filtration business in 1970 when he discovered high levels of lead in the water on his Warren property. Unable to find a local company to help, he installed a backwashing filter himself. Pretty soon he was busy putting in filters for the entire neighborhood. This laid the groundwork for the founding of Clear Water Filtration 10 years later.
Over the next three decades the business continued to grow and expand. Today Clear Water Filtration provides environmentally friendly, high-quality water treatment devices and systems to 6,500 customers throughout Vermont.
Jim’s children, Jen Fleckenstein and Steve Parker, took over the company in 2015. Like their father, they have an eye for expansion. This year, when they had a new idea for their business, they knew they needed outside advice and guidance. So they reached out to an advisor at the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC).
Their VtSBDC advisor, Charley Ininger, helped them flesh out their business idea and step through the process of bringing their new product to market. “Connecting with VtSBDC and, more specifically, working with Charley, has been the best strategy we ever implemented for our business,” the owners said. “He is a knowledgeable advisor, and trusted friend of Clear Water Filtration.”
The co-owners said that Charley helped them understand the importance of beta testing new products and ideas in order to create an MVP, or Most Valuable Product. This business concept is about maximizing the value of your product by focusing on what you do exceptionally well and letting go of features that don’t reach your company’s quality standards. You only release a product when it’s fully functional and able to effectively solve a problem for your customers.
What else did Jen and Steve learn from Charley? To “know your numbers!, “they said, “And how to work best with different lenders.” When asked to come up with three words to describe working with Charley, they said, “knowledge, experienced, and honest.”
Along with their unique history, the owners credit the company’s ongoing success to “our people and our unique understanding of commercial water treatment application, especially brewing.” Clear Water Filtration provides residential and commercial services statewide, from breweries and distilleries to schools and tech companies. For more info: www.clearwaterfiltration.com.
Looking for more? Visit VtSBDC.org to explore resources or connect with an advisor.