So what made a successful fishing supplier branch off into the water treatment business?
During his child's first pediatrician visit, Mike Scanio said the doctor told him something that astounded him. “He said don't give the baby any tap water,” Scanio recalled. “Only bottled water. Tap water will give the baby problems, especially while he's young. And that intrigued me to think that people are paying for their water. And I realized that if this is something that people are going to have to do more in the future, this could be a soluble business.”
Puns aside, Scanio saw his curiosity through to its natural conclusion, founding in 1987 what is now called Aqua Systems, along with his business partners, brother Vince and father Vince Scanio.
Aqua Systems 2907 N. Florida Ave.
On tap: Aqua Systems sells over 300 water softening and purification systems, bottled water (plus deliver), ultra pure water for industrial use (such as for labs, pharmacies, and hospitals), for residential and commercial use.
Aqua source: The Scanios first entered the water treatment business in 1987 as Southeastern Marketing International, co-locating it with their other business, Southeastern Fishing Tackle Liquidators. In 1989 “we saw the merits,” Scanio said, “of going with a national company, so we bought the distribution rights with General Ionics.” In 1999 an overnight fire totaled their building at 3745 N. Florida Ave., forcing them to relocate a few blocks south at their current location, 2907 N. Florida Ave. By 2000 Scanio became dissatisfied with the direct sales commission structure “which is predominantly what this industry is run with,” he said. So that year the Scanios aligned their business with the Indianapolis-based Aqua Systems because it doesn't use direct sales people who give high pressure, in-home demonstrations.
The Aqua way: “This is a prefect fit for us,” Scanio said of joining the Aqua Systems fold. You have a retail store where people can come in and get educated about water systems and water quality. It's like buying a fridge. Would you want to have someone come to your house with a couple brochures, or would you rather go to a store and have someone educate you about all the models available so you can make an informed decision? With us, you're not dealing with a bunch of middle men and sales persons,” said Scaniko. “Generally we'll save customers 20 to 50 percent because there are no middle men involved.”
Why purify?: “Our water is safe, first and foremost,” Scanio said. “The water (treatment) issue is more of an aesthetic issue, It's not a health-related issue. Unfortunately the industry wants to paint a picture with scare tactics. But that being said, there is actually dollar and cents problems that people have with there water quality with minerals and water disinfectants in their water, causing 600 to 800 dollars of damage a year.” Scanio things like toilet seals, faucets, dishwatshers, and ice makers all have explicit voids in their warranties if their problem is due to water quality.
Well spring: Michael Scanio hails from a Sicilian/Spanish family with Ybor City roots and a love for fishing fishing. His angling memories stretch back to his childhood and dot the bay area’s waters. He and his family would put in at Ben T. Davis Beach on Old Tampa Bay and go for redfish, trout, snook, drum and cobia. Summer beach house stays meant shore fishing at Indian Rocks Beach. As a Tampa Catholic student, Michael would skip class to fish behind the campus on the Hillsborough River. Today, Michael lives on a lake in Lutz with his own family.
Business hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays appointment.