This column is about another problem I faced with some customer dissatisfaction in my career. As a health official once said to me, “Michigan has abundant groundwater in almost all regions and it is safe to drink right from the well. However, many people will not accept the chemical quality of that water in its so-called ‘raw state.’ ” I agree with this statement and will tell you readers that most Michigan groundwater is considered hard and has way more iron than the minimum to cause stains. In the late 1950s, my father and I began addressing these issues, and early on we had some real problems with customer complaints.
In the late 1950s, my dad began to sell water softeners that one could call semi-automatic; before that time, softeners came equipped with a series of valves and regeneration was complicated and time consuming for the consumer. He or she also had to sometimes measure the amount of salt used in regeneration and add that to the unit. A step forward was the replacement of the many valves with a single lever valve not unlike the gear shift of a car. This was followed in a few years by completely automatic units, much like we have today where the consumer only had to keep some solid salt in the brine tank and the softener tended to itself, or at least it was supposed to.