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A Special Invitation from Culligan of Kansas City, MO

Connie Rishworth of Culligan, Kansas City has graciously offered to host an open house at their dealership on Monday, April 23, 2012 from 1 PM to 5PM. If you are interested in touring the Kansas City dealership, please contact Connie at or David Brewer at to RSVP. A map will be provided and transportation will be on your own. If you are not taking exams, please try to stop by Culligan of KC! Thank you Connie for your hospitality!!

History of Culligan of Greater Kansas City

It all started in a blacksmith shop in Northbrook, Illinois, in 1936. Emmett J. Culligan had the idea to found a water conditioning company, based on a service plan. One day Mr. Culligan met a friend who told him he was doing quite well selling a machine which softened water. He showed Mr. Culligan the machine and the natural greensand, called zeolite, which was used to remove the hardness minerals from the water. This intrigued Mr. Culligan, so he took some of the greensand home, just a paper grocery bag half full. After perforating the bottom of a large coffee can, he put the greensand into this, making his own water softener. He ran the tap water through it and used this first "softened" water to wash his new baby's diapers. This tiny softener brought the 36 grain hardness water down to zero hardness. He thought he had witnessed a miracle! Now Culligan's interest in softened water could not be abated.[1] With $50.00 in his pocket to establish credit, used equipment and the blacksmith shop of a friend, Mr. Culligan began his business. The first dealership was franchised in 1938 in Wheaton, Illinois followed by Hagerstown, Maryland and Iowa City, Iowa. By the start of World War II, the company had 150 dealers. In 1945 the company was incorporated and its name changed to Culligan Inc. in 1952. In 1970 its name was change to Culligan International Company.

The original Olathe, Kansas franchise was purchased from the Culligan Zeolite Company, in June of 1951. The company was referred to as Culligan Soft Water Service of Olathe. The franchise territory consisted of the entire county of Johnson with the exception of the townships of Shawnee and Mission, all in the State of Kansas. The company was expected to purchase 80 units in each of the next five years. The dealership was off and running with a deposit of $500.00. Over the next twenty years the franchise expanded its services to include D.I., Industrial Water and Cooling & Boiler Treatment. Territories were expanded also to include most of Wyandotte County and parts of Lenexa, Ks.

In December of 1974 Al Cerne bought the franchise, known as Culligan Water Conditioning of Olathe, Ks., Inc. from Mr. Poland. Connie Rishworth joined her father in 1980 as the company continued to expand. As the City of Olathe grew so did the dealership. The company store (owned by International) located in Shawnee Mission and Olathe Culligan began to bump heads on many occasions. As Olathe expanded and became more aggressive the tension and rivalry between the two Culligans grew. Finally in October of 1988 after years of slow to no growth in the Greater Kansas City Culligan Franchise, Olathe Culligan acquired them. This purchase immediately expanded the joint franchise territory to well beyond the Missouri border. The consolidated and now singular dealership was known as Olathe Culligan until 1990 when it changed its name to Greater Kansas City Culligan.

In 1989 Mike Cerne left his dental practice to join the family business in Olathe currently being run by Al and Connie.

In 1987 a bottled water division of Olathe Culligan was started calling itself American Bottled Water. The name was necessary since Culligan International was not franchising bottled water and consequently viewed this expansion of business "non Culligan activity." This position changed in 1988 when Culligan International saw the success of several franchise dealers handling bottled water and made the commitment themselves. At this time American Bottled Water became Culligan Bottled Water. With the boost of an acquisition the new bottled water company outgrew the ability to stay within the boundaries of the water conditioning facility so in 1990 a split was made and an independent franchise, Culligan Bottled Water, was born headed by Connie and owned by Connie and her husband Bill.

In 1992 the Topeka Culligan Franchise was purchased by Al Cerne from an independent dealer, adding a second franchise to the dealership in Olathe and was run by Al & Mike Cerne.

In 1993 Bill Rishworth joined the Culligan ranks and the Joplin Culligan Franchise was started from scratch by Connie and Bill, adding their second franchise.

1997 was a year of transitions and consolidations when Mike Cerne died from Cancer and Al Cerne retired. The four existing franchises, two from Connie and Bill, and two from Mike and Al were now joined together as one group supporting each other in a consolidated effort to cover the entire far eastern side of Kansas and far western side of Missouri. Connie Rishworth became CEO and President of the company as Connie and Bill took ownership of all the dealerships.

1998 realized yet another dealership expansion in the Fort Scott/Nevada area. This dealership closed the gap between the furthest southern location in Joplin, and the northern boundaries of Greater Kansas City.

Growth in the Kansas City area demanded full time attention of its managers and staff facilitating the sale of the Joplin dealership and the southern most part of the Fort Scott dealership in 2001.

Today, Culligan of Greater Kansas City and Topeka Culligan are in the top 10% of the 600+ independently owned Culligan Franchises. Culligan Bottled Water of Greater Kansas City is one of the largest producers of Culligan five-gallon water from the 260 U.S. production plants. Numerous awards from Culligan International include:

Culligan of Greater Kansas City employs sixty dedicated associates including Connie, son Robert Rishworth, Residential Sales Manager; daughter Candice Shum, HR and Office Manager; and son in law Joseph Shum, Commercial Sales Representative. Nine of the Culligan men and women have been with the company over ten years with two having put in twenty seven years. One of these includes "Uncle Dave", our COO. Kansas City Culligan services and sells residential, commercial, industrial, deionized and bottled water which is all franchise opportunities offered by Culligan International.