Family business keeps valley pumped

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

Business: Siskiyou Pump Service

Business Card

Business: Siskiyou Pump Service

Owners: Scott and Cathy Holt

Address: 3056 Hanley Road, Central Point

Phone: 541-664-4660

Employees: Four

Email: siskiyoupump@gmail.com

Website: siskiyoupump.com

Owners: Scott and Cathy Holt

Address: 3056 Hanley Road, Central Point

Phone: 541-664-4660

Employees: Four

Email: siskiyoupump@gmail.com

Website: siskiyoupump.com

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? (Cathy Holt speaking) We service and install domestic and commercial water systems, water-conditioning equipment, irrigation systems and anything else involved in getting water from a well to the faucet. We work from the California border to Grants Pass north and the Oregon Coast to Klamath Falls. Scott started the business in 1972.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We both grew up in the Rogue Valley. Scott went to high school in Medford and I went to Phoenix.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? Scott's dad owned Rotary Drilling Co. and Siskiyou Hardware & Pump in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1972, he sold the drilling company. Scott and I were engaged at the time, and he had the option to seek employment in another industry or the opportunity to buy the pump service. We made the decision to buy the pump service as partners and carry on the family-owned company when we got married in 1973.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I would've preferred to have had an office elsewhere, you betcha, but for customers it wouldn't have been a good thing. We always try to make improvements gradually. We made small improvements. We try not to go out on a limb and always thought a lot about improvements or changes. We've always had our business in our home. For some people, the advantage of working from home is 5 or 6 at night you walk away and the phones are off. Our business is not such that we can do that. When people run out of water at 8, they expect someone to answer the phone. One thing that has helped us grow is that we've always tried to be there to answer calls.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? The toughest decision was to stay as a sole proprietor or expand and add employees. That was 10 to 12 years ago. We brought our first employee on, Justin, our son, 11 years ago. It turned out to be the best decision we've made. There were a lot of responsibilities that went with that. We had to be strong enough to provide stability and opportunities for growth for the employees. We had to add additional service trucks and more equipment; when you have more employees, you need more equipment. We had to increase our advertising and make sure we were still seen by our customers as a small mom-and-pop business, focusing on the values we started this business with.

Who are your competitors? The established companies I would recommend are Desert Pump Co. in White City, Green Valley Pump in Talent and Hydro-Flow Pump in Medford.

What are your goals? Our goals are to back out slowly and turn the business over to the third generation. In five years, we hope Justin will be at the helm and Scott will be semi-retired by then.

What training or education did you need? Scott got his training in the school of hard knocks. He was a driller's helper with his father, growing up on the back end of a rig. He learned from drilling and then followed into the pump. He had a lot of hands-on training.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Set your goals, make improvements in small steps. If you are going to have a partner, choose them carefully. It's got to be someone you want to work side-by-side with every day. When you are starting out as small-business owners, there are no holidays and no days off for many, many years. You have to choose wisely to find someone to work with and share goals. I remember Scott working Christmas and Thanksgiving Day; that's part of having a small business.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com.



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