SYCAMORE – The owners of Soft Water City are celebrating their 40th year in business Saturday with a customer appreciation day.
The family-owned water treatment company will offer a raffle, a tour of the facility at 440 DeKalb Ave., and various sales from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., said co-owner Chris Puentes.
Puentes added that they are also giving away a $700 reverse osmosis drinking water system.
Puentes and his sister, Lisa Kijowski, took over for their parents, Ray and Kathy Puentes, after 25 years of work. But even though they are retired, they still put in 40 hours a week at the store, Puentes said, noting that his mother still does payroll by hand.
Since taking over, “we’ve expanded our services, the products we provide to our customers,” Puentes said. He said they’ve leased equipment to 4,500 customers and have probably sold equipment to that many customers in their 40 years there.
Puentes said despite the economic recession the country has been undergoing, Soft Water City continues on.
“We’ve been fortunate. The economy has slowed us to a standstill, but business is back,” Puentes said. “We never had a losing month, but we’ve been flat.”
Puentes and his sister grew up in the store. His parents could not afford day care, so Puentes learned about water treatment and how to run a business.
“I always worked here. I grew up in this business,” Puentes said. “I didn’t have any interest in doing anything else.”
With six children between his family and his sister’s, Puentes said it is “statistically possible” that the business will remain in the family in the future. Puentes acknowledged that he cannot keep working on projects and proposals late into the night for too much longer.
“We all take work home with us every single day,” Puentes said.
Puentes said his business hopes to continue to emphasize customer service as they “remain on the cutting of our products.”
“Customer service – that’s our niche,” Puentes said. “We’re in the trades, so you don’t always see [good customer service].”