River City Six: Jeff White
Aqua Systems (ilovemywater.net) has been helping people improve their water since 1959, servicing clients across Nebraska as part of a national company with over 300 dealers nationwide. Jeff White is the owner of Aqua Systems in Nebraska.
Tell us a little about your business.
Aqua Systems is a water treatment company that specializes in water softeners, drinking water systems, water purification, problem water solutions and large scale water solutions for business and industry. In addition to water treatment solutions we provide bottle free water coolers and ice machines for homes and businesses. Our passion is to show people and businesses how to go bottle free and get rid of plastic water bottles. It is one thing to be passionate about recycling but we are passionate about waste elimination.
How did you get started in the business?
I was a commercial loan officer for a local bank and one of my customers was in the water treatment business.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?
The housing market crash. I will never forget August of 2008, the roughest month I have ever had in business. It was like someone disconnected our phone lines.
What has been your most important achievement professionally?
Likewise, having made it through the housing market crash. I had to make some difficult decisions about employees, overhead, etc. I even changed the way we were doing business by going to a format of having no commissioned sales people and putting our prices online. This has turned out to be one of the best business decisions I have ever made. The traditional way of doing business in the water industry is having in-home commissioned sales people. People feel much more comfortable with our approach. We encourage people to take our information and prices and shop the competition. There is no pressure to doing business with Aqua Systems. This has greatly increased our referral business.
Tell us a little about your family.
My wife Kris is a Guidance Counselor for Raymond Central Public Schools. My oldest son Ian is a senior at Raymond Central, Isaac is a freshman, Eli is a 7th grader, and our daughter Ellie is a 4th grader.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life?
Leaving the 8-5 comfort zone of a banking career. I had a great job and worked with great people. However, I often worked with successful entrepreneurs and kept my eyes open for an opportunity to get out there and be an entrepreneur myself.
What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?
Coaching basketball. While I’ve coached my kids in a variety of sports, basketball is my favorite.
What are you the most proud of?
Raising kids that have been taught to respect others and get involved. I have been involved in a lot of organizations and community events where I can give back. I see the same in my kids.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
‘You were not born a winner, and you were not born a loser. You are what you make yourself to be.’ -Lou Holtz
What local non-profit organization(s) are you passionate about or involved with, and are there any special reasons why?
I am the Secretary/Treasurer of the Valparaiso Rural Fire Board. We just completed construction of a $1.6 million dollar fire hall and I’m proud I was able to contribute. This building will be a pillar to our small community for years to come.