Lloyd Gordon founded the company on that promise to provide better drinking water when he chose to make Salem home – four generations and more than 75 years later, that’s still the case.
“We really are in the business of helping people live better,” Gordon Bros. President Scott Jones said.
Scott is a grandson of Lloyd and represents the third generation in the family business. His mom and dad, Ned and Carolyn Jones, son-in-law and daughter to Lloyd, and his late uncle, Bruce Gordon, Carolyn’s brother and Lloyd’s son, represent the second generation. Scott’s daughter, Mallory, who also works for Gordon Bros., is the fourth generation.
Ned serves as chairman of the board and Carolyn still works for the company part-time. Before his death in 2010, Bruce served as president and chief financial officer while Ned previously handled sales and marketing.
Located at 776 N. Ellsworth Ave. in Salem since the beginning, Gordon Bros. quietly celebrated its 75th anniversary last year during the height of the pandemic and opted out of a large public celebration.
Instead, they’ve been celebrating the company’s best year ever in 2020 and great numbers in 2021 as well.
That’s staying power and quite a legacy.
“I think Lloyd would be really happy to see where his business is now,” Ned said.
According to Carolyn, her dad was the youngest of five boys and as a young man became interested in water. He wanted to own his own business and he knew he wanted to be located within 60 miles or so of Pittsburgh. He picked Ohio where the water wasn’t good and borrowed money from his brothers, hence the name Gordon Bros. She said he loved Salem and ironically, the business is now growing more towards Pittsburgh.
A leader in the water treatment industry, Gordon Bros. is an authorized independent Kinetico dealer and offers free water analysis to determine the best type of water treatment system for each customer. Scott said it’s not one size fits all when it comes to water treatment systems.
According to Scott, Kinetico revolutionized the industry by coming out with the first non-electric water softener in the 1970s, which is also when Gordon Bros started installing permanent systems. The two companies have had a relationship since 1974, with Gordon Bros. becoming the second Kinetico dealer ever. There are now 350 dealers in the United States.
“That is something we’re really proud of, dealing with a product made by fellow Ohioans,” he said.
Ned and Carolyn’s son Ted is the Vice President of Sales for Kinetico in North America. Their son Brad works in the pharmaceutical sales industry. Both Ted and Brad live in California.
Ned, Carolyn and Scott all attributed this past year and current year’s success to a few factors. During the pandemic, people were stuck at home and working on home improvement and health and decided to take care of water issues. Carolyn said people are concerned about the water they’re drinking and that’s where Gordon Bros. can help.
“I think the water business has grown faster than most businesses,” she said.
Ned also credited the company’s ability to adapt to changes and also said luck played a part when drinking water became a major thing.
All agreed, though, that a large part of the company’s success is due to it’s people. They have a lot of longtime employees with a lot of enthusiasm who are excited to be there. Scott said they’re all very excited to be part of the legacy, himself included.
“I think our people are our biggest asset,” Carolyn said.
The company has grown from three employees in the beginning to close to 50 now, plus a fleet of 15 trucks. All water systems are professionally installed by certified employees of Gordon Bros.
One of their former employees, who approached Lloyd for a job when he was a young man, helped Gordon Bros. celebrate the 75th anniversary by creating miniature replicas of the Gordon Bros. trucks over the years. Donald “Colby” Vincent came for a visit this past spring and shared a lot of memories of his time working for Gordon Bros. in a post-visit email. He used his earnings to put himself through college and said he thought of “that compensation as a scholarship from Gordon Bros. since there were many days that I did not think of it as work. I enjoyed it that much.”
He said he was gratified to have been part of the earlier years of the company and Ned, Carolyn and Scott told him they were proud to say he was a big part of the Gordon Bros. family. That’s what it’s all about for Gordon Bros. — family — both team members and customers.
Treatment has evolved from the early exchange tanks to reverse osmosis treatment systems and even bottleless water coolers. The customer base used to be 90 percent on wells and now close to half have city water. Gordon Bros. even has a relationship with Home Depot as a water treatment service provider, putting Gordon Bros. personnel in the stores to set up free in-home water testing.
“We provide customized solutions to people through Kinetico,” Scott said, handling 19 stores in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
About five years ago, Gordon Bros. started a water club customers can join for an annual membership fee of $100 to cover discounts on systems, parts, some repairs and maintenance, and year-end checkups.
People can even come to the showroom and use the fill station to fill up bottles of “the best water on tap.”
To learn more about Gordon Bros., visit gordonbroswater.com or call 1-800-331-7611. Showroom hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
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