Air and water are the building blocks of life. But for William Wendling they're the elements of a successful business. The owner and founder of Oxygen Ozone Inc. has enjoyed triple-digit growth designing air and water purification systems for green-conscious homes and businesses.

Since he founded Oxygen Ozone in 1998, Wendling has sold more than 1,400 filtration systems, from Montana all the way to Malaysia. In an industry dominated by large commercial names such as Culligan and US Filter, he's carved out a niche not only with personalized service but high-quality breakthrough products.

"William takes purification a few steps beyond the rest of the industry," notes Ellen Strickland of Livingreen, who sells Oxygen Ozone products in her sustainable design stores in Culver City and Santa Barbara. "He comes at it from a health and wellness perspective, layered by technical knowledge."

Wendling has spent years perfecting a nine-stage process that uses carbon filters, reverse osmosis, de-ionization, and natural ocean coral to clean and re-invigorate water with essential minerals. Competitor LifeSource Water Systems Inc., of Pasadena, uses carbon filters in combination with its own proprietary conditioning treatment.

In a Wendling system, levels of TDS (total dissolved solids) contaminants usually caused by ground runoff and pesticides are reduced to zero parts per million. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines cite TDS levels in excess of 1,000 ppm as unfit for drinking. Piped-in municipal water has a TDS level of 100-600 ppm.

He also offers everything from a $500 low-voltage heating, ventilating and air-conditioning filter to a $12,000 system that cleans swimming pools with UV light and copper-silver ion technology developed by NASA. But his biggest sellers are under-the-counter tap purifiers.

Wendling won't publish revenues or margins. But with an average of 10 installations per month in the $2500 to $5,600 range, the company is a solid, six-figure annual earner.

Wendling, 39, credits childhood visits to a John Deere factory, where his father worked in manufacturing, as sparking his love for engineering. He first noticed the impact of water contaminants on the Illinois farm where he grew up.

"Our well water was so hard, you could see the calcium and other mineral deposits on the teapot and humidifier," said Wendling. "I think it played a part in my father's heart disease."

Wendling started on his path at 19 when he moved to Northern California to study herbal medicine. An article about a therapeutic ozone spa in Florida developed by a veteran with effects of Agent Orange ignited a passion for the benefits of purified waters.

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