When Katie Anderson knocked and yelled “maintenance,” apartment residents were skeptical that the young woman at their door was an actual plumber. They’d follow her into the bathroom and watch in disbelief as she set down her tool bag and began fixing the toilet.
Anderson, 32, comes from Dodge, an East Texas town with a population around 184. Her father built everything himself—the family’s home, their vehicles, and later, six airplanes. “His mindset is, if someone else can do it, I can do it,” Anderson says. “That’s been so impactful and inspiring in my own life. I lack that hurdle of ‘I don’t know if I can.’”
She hadn’t heard the word “entrepreneur” until college, when she picked up Napoleon Hill’s book “Think and Grow Rich.” When Anderson closed the book, she knew she could build a business—she just needed a good idea.
After college, she worked as a salesperson for a water conservation company. She found herself drawn to water-related business. In 2014, Anderson started her own company, Dallas-based Save Water Co, which repairs and replaces infrastructure to help apartment complexes and office buildings save water, energy, and money. Her first project: outfitting 216 apartment units with water-saving fixtures.
Her first employees were a school principal and a tree farmer, neither of whom knew much about water. After a crash course in plumbing from Anderson’s father, the workers ventured to Garland for their first job. On day one, they completed one unit. The next day—three units. Nervous about the pace, Anderson dropped everything to work alongside them. “We turned in the keys for all 216 units at 4:55 p.m. on the second Friday,” she says.
That was 16,000 units ago. Though saving water is a nice perk, the apartment complexes and offices hire Anderson’s company to save them money. Save Water Co has two programs. The Restore program reduces utility bills by an average of 30 to 40 percent, while the more in-depth Overhaul program reduces them by 50 to 60 percent. Results depend on property specifications. Save Water Co helped Cooks Creek, a 255-unit complex in Farmers Branch, reduce its bill by 42 percent and saved nearly 13 million gallons of water annually.
Dallas is a great place to be, Anderson says, because of its many apartment complexes and corporate headquarters. She prefers to work in high-density housing because that’s where Save Water Co can make its biggest impact.
Since its inception, Save Water Co has grown to 22 employees and doubled its revenue each year. The company, which Anderson expects will generate about $5 million in revenue this year, has saved 725 million gallons of water so far. “Imagine the world as a pasta strainer,” Anderson says. “What my company does, is find the holes and plug them.”