By Lee Howard Day staff writer
Waterford — Bryan Grandieri had been such a trusted friend of the family that, when the Waterford High School graduate told Scott Gladstone he wasn’t going the college route, the entrepreneur told him to find an opportunity for himself.
Then Gladstone, with Wireless Zone partner Neil Ryan of Mystic, bought Maxum Irrigation and set him up in business. Now with eight full-time employees, the company is the biggest irrigation business in southeastern Connecticut, Gladstone said, applying new technology to save water and using new scheduling software to improve the customer experience.
The partners also have been busy renovating a former shoe store, barber shop and lighting retailer on Route 1 near Crown Pizza to turn into the company’s headquarters.
“We redid everything,” Gladstone said during a tour of the 5,600-square-foot building that was still under construction earlier this month.
The partners, through a related company Track Realty LLC, paid the Sylvestre family $250,000 for the building in November of last year, and Gladstone said he expects to put an additional $100,000 into improvements. The back of the half-acre property is being used to store Maxum Irrigation trucks.
Dave Atkinson is the project architect, with a bevy of local contractors adding their expertise, including Michaud Plumbing, Caro’s Painting and Remodeling, Hayes Services, Grand Services, R&D Electric, Duncklee Heating & Cooling and UBS. Charter Oak Federal Credit Union provided the financing.
Gladstone said the partners bought the irrigation business from B&W Paving, moving its headquarters from Cross Road. Since the sale, they bought and wrapped new vehicles purchased from T.J. Motors in New London, developed a new logo and relaunched the company website.
“One key element wasn’t in place: customer service,” he said.
So Maxum has been working hard to make sure customers get prompt attention for their questions, and that visits to certain areas of the state are done in tandem with other nearby customers’ needs to make for smoother and more efficient scheduling. The company is being managed on a day-to-day basis by Bryan Grandieri’s father, Bob.
In keeping with the family theme, the new Maxum Irrigation building includes a downstairs space to be occupied by Compass Rose Strategic Partners, a financial planning firm owned by Gladstone’s wife, Simone, and the upstairs apartment is occupied by Kate Devlin, Maxum’s office manager, along with husband Anthony and their two small children.
Gladstone had nothing but praise for town officials, who were happy to see the building occupied after nearly a year and a half on the market.
“They had an open door policy and were a pleasure to work with,” Gladstone said.
Gladstone said as the weather has warmed up, the irrigation business has started to heat up as well. The company, which retained its customer list in the sale, does work throughout the state, he added, pointing out that unlike many other similar firms it is focused exclusively on sprinkler systems for lawns, dock lines and other irrigation systems while eschewing lawn and garden maintenance and landscaping.
Though Gladstone admits it is unusual to set up a non-family member in business, it goes along with his basic philosophy of putting good people together.
“I don’t try to put square pegs in round holes,” he said.
Gladstone, who along with partner Ryan were last year’s Citizens of the Year in the region for their charitable work, added that one of his main motivations is giving back to the community. He plans, for instance, to donate the company’s irrigation services to improve the town’s Little League and Babe Ruth fields.
“We’re going to focus on building this business,” he said.
What: Maxum Irrigation
Where: 426 Boston Post Road, Waterford
Who: Scott Gladstone, Neil Ryan, Bryan Grandieri
Phone: (860) 525-7000
Email: [email protected]