Driessen Culligan is a 53-year old family corporation, consisting of 21 regional facilities. Its service distribution serves all of Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, and northwestern Ohio. With our unique industrial capabilities supported by four deionization processing plants and three bottled water facilities, we have a worldwide market. With a service base of over 250 employees and a fleet of 150 vehicles, we provide unequaled service to our 100,000 residential and industrial clients.
The founder, Gene Driessen was employed by Culligan International in 1947 prior to starting Driessen Water in 1962. Gene Driessen was also married to Kate Culligan, daughter of Culligan's founder E.J. Culligan.
Founded upon integrity, quality products and employee excellence, Driessen Water's mission is to maintain those principles and to be a leader in the water treatment industry by continuing to expand and be profitable in our market segment while providing the highest level of customer service and earning customer loyalty.
The Culligan Story
In 1936, Emmett J. Culligan, now nationally known as the "Father of the Soft Water Industry", started in business on the streets of Northbrook, Illinois. Northbrook is still the headquarters and principle manufacturing site of the Culligan International Company.
It is literally true that the company was actually started on the streets. At first glance, several miles of lonely unused paved streets in a weed-infested, defunct real estate project would appear to be the most unlikely place to start the world's largest household water conditioning firm, but these streets paved the way for low-cost, mass production of Zeolite, a man-made mineral used to soften water.
E.J. Culligan had perfected a process for manufacturing Zeolite, based on solar drying technology. In 1936, with an idea, faith, courage and $50.00 in his pocket, Culligan approached an astonished city council in Northbrook and offered to lease the abandoned streets for the manufacturing of Zeolite, and soon the streets were strewn with Zeolite, drying in the summer sun.
The company was almost a community project in the early days. Everyone helped. Culligan first housed his operation in Jack McLachlon's blacksmith shop on Sherman Avenue and then in a small frame building on Walters Avenue. These buildings were finally joined together with a "quonset-type" structure. The blacksmith shop served first as office and manufacturing plant, then as a laboratory.
In 1938, Culligan launched a program of soft water for every home through franchised dealers. The first Culligan dealer started in business in Wheaton, Illinois in the same year. So rapid was the company growth that the number of dealers had grown to 150 at the beginning of World War II. No new dealers were added during the war, but facilities were developed in San Bernardino, California for the manufacturing of a critically needed dehydrating material called Silica Gel which protected metals from atmospheric corrosion. Culligan experience and know-how soon made the company one of the largest suppliers of this material, and the company was awarded an Army-Navy certificate for its contribution to the war effort.
In 1946 the company returned to the task of expanding its dealer organization. Within a few years, the Northbrook plant became the world's largest Zeolite manufacturing plant, with 34 acres of solar drying basins. In 1947, a two-story structure was added in Northbrook and additional plant facilities were obtained in Evanston, Illinois.
On October 13, 1951, fifteen years after Emmett J. Culligan arrived in Northbrook with $50.00 and an idea, the Northbrook Civic Organization proclaimed "Culligan Day". All the townspeople were invited to a square dance and barbecue to celebrate the opening of the new half-million dollar Culligan Plant on South Sherman road. Growing acceptance of soft water brought about eight expansions of the plant since that time.
In 1952 the company name was changed from the Culligan Zeolite Company to Culligan Incorporated. Then in 1958 overseas expansion of Culligan marketing began with the establishment of licensed distributors in Western Europe who imported Culligan products from the Northbrook factory. Rapid growth in Europe was responsible for the establishment of the first European factory in Brussels, Belgium in 1962, which has since quadrupled in size. Continued growth in Europe plus expansion into Africa, Asia and the Pacific necessitated the acquisition of an additional large factory in 1969 at Bologna, Italy. In 1969 Culligan International was created to meet the demand as the world's leading manufacturer of water conditioning equipment.
In 1970 the Culligan International Company World Headquarters was completed. The modern office and factory building was expanded in 1977. The facility was located on 41 acres and housed 463,336 square feet of manufacturing research, laboratory and office space.
The company is still growing and has become world-wide in water conditioning with plants in Libertyville, Iowa; San Bernadino, California; Sheridan Park, Ontario, Canada; Diegem, Belgium; Bologna, Italy; and Barcelona, Spain.
Millions of families in over 5,000 communities in the U.S. and Canada are served by over 700 Culligan dealers. Internationally, Culligan products and services are available in most of the free world. So, from the humble beginning in a blacksmith shop, Culligan has progressed to the world's leading water treatment authority.