BARTHULY IRRIGATION: A BUSINESS OF BROTHERS
Brothers Larry and Ken Barthuly have been operating their business, Barthuly Irrigation, Inc., together for 21 years. The business’ beginnings can be traced back to a summer job Ken got in the eighth grade while living in New Hampshire. The Barthuly’s father wanted to instill a strong work ethic in his sons and, therefore, demanded that his youngest son Ken get a job at an early age. Ken, while “technically” underage, got a job working in the landscaping/irrigation department for the Anheuser Busch plant in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Shortly thereafter, Ken helped Larry to get a summer job in the same irrigation department with the King of Beers. The boys spent several summers working at various irrigation companies.
Following graduation from Purdue University, Larry got a job in the insurance industry where he worked for six years. While Larry was working in the insurance business, Ken followed Larry to Purdue. In the summer of Ken’s senior year at Purdue, the brothers agreed to install an irrigation system in their parent’s newly-purchased house in Crown Point, Indiana. Larry, still working in insurance, went to the office that next week and told one of his co-workers that he and his brother had just finished installing an irrigation system at their parent’s house. The co-worker asked if they would do the same at her house in Carmel. While doing the installation at the co-worker’s house, her neighbors started to stop by and ask Ken and Larry for a quote to install a system at their house. This experience gave the brothers the belief that they could start their own irrigation business.
Ken said he and Larry made it a goal to have their own business in order to have some control of their future. Both of the Barthuly brothers watched as their father’s career, a pilot flying private aircraft for large corporations, was constantly subject to the whims of corporate management. Their father’s profession required the Barthuly’s to move frequently.
In starting the business, the brothers had little to no resources and no building from which to operate, except for Larry’s one bedroom apartment at Pickwick Farms. Each night, the brothers would carry the materials they needed for the next day’s job up to Larry’s apartment, including 20’ pieces of PVC pipe, for fear that they would be stolen otherwise. Ken said he can still remember sitting in Larry’s apartment having a beer at the end of a long day with piles of PVC pipe under his feet.
By providing quality service at reasonable prices with a personal touch, their irrigation business grew quickly. As the business grew, they progressed from working out of Larry’s apartment to working out of his house to ultimately, in 2000, building their own facility at their current Zionsville’s location on 106th Street. Three years ago, they expanded beyond the Indianapolis market when they bought an existing irrigation business in Lafayette. The work ethic instilled in them by their father and the technical expertise that they developed in those summer jobs in the irrigation business gave the Brothers the tools they needed to build Barthuly Irrigation into one of the largest irrigation companies in the state of Indiana.
According to Ken and Larry, the future of irrigation will be directed toward water conservation because it is inevitable that water regulations will become more stringent and water more expensive. To meet the future, Barthuly Irrigation is one of the few companies to be recognized as Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors (“CLIA”) in the state of Indiana. Not surprisingly, Barthuly Irrigation offers an array of water-saving devices, some of which are relatively inexpensive. For example, Barthuly Irrigation offers a rain sensor that can be installed on your home irrigation system for only $228 that shuts off your system when it is raining and restarts it when the rain is over. How many times have we driven down the street in a blinding rain and seen someone’s sprinkler wasting both water and money.
Tips on hiring an irrigation company:
• Before getting a quote, make sure the contractor actually comes to your home to check your water pressure, the sun/shade relationship in your yard, water tap location, your preferred location for the water controller, and where the best place to “hide” the green valve box.
• Ask if the contractor can complete the job where there is a risk of encountering tree roots during installation. Some contractors will give you a quote but will either refuse to do a job or will increase the price once they discover the presence of tree roots.
• Does the price include the cost of a permit?
• Make sure the water coverage plan is designed so that the amount of water going on the turf is different from your plantings (trees, shrubs, etc.). They each have different water requirements.
• Because there are no licensing requirements for irrigation specialists in Indiana, make sure they are bonded and insured. Most of all, BUYER BEWARE!!!