31 Aug Jutzi Water Technologies (D.H. Jutzi Limited) celebrates 70 years in business
What started out in a small garage on Hope Street East in Tavistock as a petroleum company seven decades ago has transformed into a water treatment company.
Now known as Jutzi Water Technologies, D.H. Jutzi was started by David Jutzi after making the jump from Perth to Oxford County. Tavistock resident Brian Jutzi is the company’s principal and said it all started when his father married his mother. “David Jutzi (Brian’s dad) married Frieda Gerber at Poole Mennonite Church in Milverton in 1953. His first order of business was quitting his job as the couple moved to Tavistock which in those times was a big move. He became an Imperial Oil distributor which was the start of the family business.” He added the first employee hired three years later was Raymond Ruby who was able to make the 70th anniversary shindig in Stratford. Ruby is the father of Brian’s brother and business partner David’s wife, Karen. Also in attendance was recently retired Grant Kaufman who was an employee of the Jutzi’s for 53 years.
The business eventually outgrew the double-car garage in Tavistock and moved to Stratford and that is when Brian and his brothers David and Dean joined forces with their father in the 1980’s. “I started off as a student after high school and that’s when the opportunity to sell water treatment products became available, so I decided to give that a try for a year and I never left. His brother David worked on the petroleum side of the business and eventually took it over while the middle brother Dean started out with his own accounting business but ultimately became a part of the family business before retiring in 2017.
Part of the move into the water treatment business was a result of the energy crisis in the early 1980s when the Middle East stopped sending oil to the United States. “There were lineups at gas stations in the US daily at the same time Prime Minister (Pierre) Trudeau was trying to demolish Alberta’s oil industry with the National Energy Program so the future of the petroleum industry looked pretty dim. We thought diversifying was a good idea and it was.” To prove the point Brian said in 1982 there were eight petroleum distributors in Stratford and when the dust settled there were only two. “Being in the oil business had its challenges, and the water treatment side helped us get through,” he added.
Eventually, the company decided to completely leave the petroleum sector thanks to business conditions that were unrealistic. “It was difficult because of the insurance costs and the liability exposure. We were too small to slide under the radar and not big enough to be profitable.” The decision was made in 2017 to sell the petroleum side of the company to MacEwen Petroleum. “In 2017 we changed the name to Jutzi Water Technologies and the next year we decided to take the risk of building a new location (at 525 Wright Boulevard in Stratford) which has proved to be a good business decision,” said Brian.
The water treatment company has clients across Southern Ontario, from Ottawa to Sudbury to Windsor, and offers a variety of services. “We have residential products, service the health care industry, as well as municipal water treatment.” Through an employee acquisition, Brian was able to bring on a salesman with an extensive knowledge of the microbrewery industry. “We have expanded our business in that direction, and it is definitely a growth opportunity for us.” During the 2008 financial crisis, the company focused mainly on the industrial sector but many of them closed their doors. “We changed our attention to healthcare, and we now have a substantial number of customers in that sector.” Jutzi Water Technologies also provides municipal water treatment products and offers a number of residential products including Kinetico water systems.
A good measurement of a company’s growth is the increase in the number of employees. Brian explained “When we first moved into our new facility we had two drivers, now we have six. We have also hired more sales and service staff along with warehouse employees.” Despite the growth, the business remains a family operation. Along with brother David is Brian’s wife Cindy, nephew Jon in sales and service, and niece Laura performing inside sales. Jutzi has 32 employees, many from Tavistock and area.
Brian said there are several reasons why the current business is growing “We have dedicated employees, past and present, great long-term customers, committed suppliers, and competitors who require us to be solid at what we do. The industry as a whole is committed to professionalism and service for customers.” He added that their service to customers and attention to detail is what has led to their success.