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Getting to Know Culligan: A History of Service, A Legacy of Expertise

Culligan has come a long way since its beginnings under founder, Emmett Culligan in 1936. He started his company with a simple goal — help people access better, safer water. It’s a message and a mission that has united Culligan and guided both our corporate entity and your local Culligan Santa Barbara around the country since its inception.

This idea continues to play a pivotal role in helping us align our values as an organization while we grow, and ground us in the importance of the work we do for local communities.

Emmett’s Ideas – Better Water, Better Life

From the early days of his company, Emmett Culligan believed in the importance of the work he was doing — that better water could lay the foundation for a better life. At a time when the middle class was expanding, he knew he could do even more to make life for everyday Americans better, starting with the water they drank and used in their homes.

He also appreciated the health benefits that access to clean, filtered water could bestow, and long before hydration held the place it does now in the cannon of healthy living, Emmett lived with an uncommon commitment to hydration. He understood that good quality water facilitated everything from longer life to better athletic performance, resilient, youthful skin, and so much more, and sought to bring those benefits to every home and community Culligan served.

It also became clear to him that softened and filtered water could make life easier, and more luxurious in the home. From easing the burden of cleaning and everyday housework, to helping laundry feel and look its best, Culligan knew soft water could be an affordable luxury for many Americans. He also knew that people wanted to feel confident in who they were filtering their water with – that it wasn’t just a product, but a service people would depend on and trust to local professionals. Some who were just as committed to their neighborhoods as they were — because they lived there, too.

From Local Water Expertise to Community Commitment

For his ideas to reach beyond his original Illinois headquarters, however, he recognized he needed to establish a franchise model that built on his commitment to water and its benefits, and the service that should come with improving your home’s water quality. He knew how important local expertise was when it came to water, and how much local knowledge could further help homeowners across the midwest, and eventually the entire United States.

It was this vision — for local knowledge, and especially local water quality understanding —that eventually established the franchise model that today, helps Culligan remain leaders in local water quality. Then, as now, Culligan men and women are not only professional water quality experts, they’re neighbors and friends who live and work in the communities they serve. Many of our franchises remain family-owned and operated, some, like the original Culligan in Rosemont, Il, passed down from generation to generation.

By focusing on water, its quality, and the people who can deliver, soften, and filter it, Culligan’s legacy of bringing better water to people everywhere endures through local dealers that understand the value of the water itself, and the service that stands behind it.


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