Why did you start this company?
The start of this and all of our companies has to be attributed to my father, Ike. He started Eisenhauer Plumbing in 1971 and I joined the company in 1975 after graduating high school. After running a relatively successful plumbing company for many years, Dad suddenly passed away in 1990. While still running Eisenhauer Plumbing in 1993, Don Smith (owner Carlin Fire Protection) and I decided to create a new backflow testing company, Chicago Backflow, Inc. with the hopes of earning enough money to feed our collective golf habits. That plan was so successful that in 1997, Chicago Backflow bought Eisenhauer Plumbing and subsequently Carlin Fire Protection was closed.
After many years of primarily focusing solely on the testing side of backflow prevention with Chicago Backflow, it became readily apparent that a huge void existed in the water system implementation and administration of backflow programs. My business partner Don Smith (now retired) and I knew that in order to continue to expand our testing company, we would have to provide water systems with the specific expertise in administrating and implementing a successful backflow prevention program. Thus, BSI was born. BSI was the first of its kind. We had the technical knowledge of backflow prevention, as well as the administrative capabilities to catalogue backflow test results and semi-automate letters. This proved major relief as we have grown exponentially from idea inception.
In your own words, can you tell me what BSI does?
In a way, BSI is similar to a multi-faceted singularly focused private university. BSI exists to educate all participants regarding the harmful ramifications of plumbing cross-connections and backflow within the water system. BSI is uniquely qualified to help all participants involved in cross-connection control and backflow prevention with any specific questions, challenges or implementation concerns that they may have.
After many years of administrating traditional manual cross-connection control programs that were time consuming and expensive to operate, BSI shifted gears in 2008 and implemented the first patented online cross-connection control administration program of its kind. This single accomplishment revolutionized the way that water systems viewed cross-connection control. BSI’s revolutionary online concept made cross-connection control and backflow prevention program management accessible and affordable for all water systems, consumers, and testers.
What Are Your 3 Biggest Accomplishments?
The first is easy. That being married to my wonderful wife Laurie for 43 years. She has put up with a lot. I am truly thankful and lucky.
Second would have to be raising two wonderful, thoughtful, caring sons. Each in their own ways accomplished visionaries with the drive to succeed as parents and businessmen.
Third would have to be our companies, Chicago Backflow, Inc., Backflow Solutions Inc. and CB Marketing.
Chicago Backflow is, I believe, still one of if not the largest backflow assembly testing companies in the US, testing 25,000+ valves annually.
Backflow Solutions is without comparison, the leader in the field of cross-connection control and backflow prevention around the globe. BSI is rapidly approaching the administration of over 1,000,000 (one million) backflow assemblies on an annual basis.
CB Marketing continues to be a market leader in sales and service of backflow prevention assemblies and fire pumps for the fire sprinkler industry.
Give me one word that describes you the best.
What other CEOs do you look up to?
Gregg Huennekens – USA Fire Protection
Bob Del Boka – Northrup Grumman
Ray Freemont – General Air Products
What are your outside interests?
Grandkids above all else
Travel – two more continents and we will have them all
How long have you been doing this?
Long enough to know that it is almost time to turn this all over to the next generation.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
By far the biggest challenge has been my own personal self-doubt. Growing up in a successful business minded household, you hear at the dinner table life lessons of the inner workings of what it takes to run a successful business and you ask yourself, “Am I worthy? Can I do this?”. At some point you simply decide. Being in business is not for everyone. There is no safety net until you create it for yourself. I remember reading something when I was just starting out that said “if it is to be, it is up to me”. I have never forgotten those words and so when you decide that something is worthwhile, you simply press on no matter what obstacles are in your way. Never quit!!!
And there you have it folks, just a little insight into Mike and how BSI came to be.