Clean Water Guys Tackle Hard Water, Keep Taps Pure

Small Business of the Month

Rory Sherman, owner of Clean Water Guys, stands in his business at 13336 Industrial Road, Suite 106, in western Omaha. (Photo by Emily Kerr)
Emily Kerr
The Daily Record

NASA astronauts on Apollo 17 took a photo of clouds whirling over Earth’s oceans in 1972 that looked like a “Big Blue Marble.”

While water covers about 71% of the planet’s surface, only about 1/200th of Earth’s water is fresh water that’s accessible and suitable for drinking.

Rory Sherman, owner of Clean Water Guys, wants the Omaha metro community to know his business is here to treat any water issue, helping to connect people with fresh, clean drinking water. 

Working with household names such as Tyson, Scooter’s and even Google, the Clean Water Guys collaborate with manufacturers that have proven themselves to be staples in their industry and creates custom systems to retrofit any building in need of water treatment. The company, incorporated as United Distributors Inc., also offers home and office solutions for water softening and water treatment systems.

Sherman grew up in a small town in South Dakota and went to trade school to become a mechanic before changing his focus to water treatment. He has been serving his customers for more than four decades.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary in Omaha, the first Clean Water Guys was founded in 1979 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it grew to cover over seven states. 

Eventually, Sherman said his brother suggested opening a branch in Omaha, and the company’s new headquarters was established in 1984.

“It was a lot larger city for development and growth,” Sherman said, noting that a central location was helpful for shipping in parts from across the country.

Clean Water Guys has experienced consistent growth because of the dedication to treating its customers like family. 

“The key thing for us is having very strong core values,” Sherman said. “If you take care of the customer, the customer will take care of you. If you don’t take care of the customer, the customer will take care of you. We think it’s better to do it right the first time.” 

Family is at the heart of the company, with Sherman’s daughter, Elizabeth, recently marking her fifth anniversary with the company. She said her favorite part of the company is working with a “tight knit team” – and working at a family business.

“Everybody who comes in here feels the family vibe,” she said.

Hard water is a top issue across the United States, and Nebraska has high concentrations of minerals in the water supply. Those can calcify over time and accumulate in water heaters and pipes.

In fact, Sherman said his team has taken piece of sediment from water heaters in Omaha that measured nearly a foot in length.

That’s why Sherman stresses the value of a water treatment system to clients for both commercial and residential properties.

“There’s an old saying in plumbing: ‘It takes one plumber to bring in a water heater and three men and two boys to carry one out.’ Well, the reason for this is because of hardwater scale,” Sherman said.

When water is untreated and mineral scale is left behind, it calcifies and hardens to form a barrier that the water heater must then heat through to function. 

“That’s what drives cost up,” Sherman said.

Besides prolonging the life of plumbing and appliances, softer water is healthier on people’s skin and it eliminates the issue of soap and hard water forming scum on shower walls – making bathrooms easier to clean. Even laundry is more efficient, requiring less soap to wash and causing less damage by removing harsh irritants that damage clothing over time. 

Pollution is also filtered out, which can provide safety when the water has contamination – whether that’s from floods, like in those across Nebraska this year, or lead or other elements leaking into the water supply from decaying pipes, like in Flint, Michigan.

“People don’t realize that the water we have today is the same water we’ve always had. You can’t make water,” Sherman said.

While water is filtered before it goes into the water supply to be safe, another layer of filtration can bring some peace of mind.

Because of their diligence and care for customers, Clean Water Guys was selected as November’s Small Business of the Month by the Greater Omaha Chamber. 

Sherman said success is measured by the company’s longevity and “feeling like you’re a part of something bigger” – through serving the community further, such as by repurposing and donating used water softeners to those in need who can’t afford them.

“I’m more excited about the business today than I was 25-30 years ago,” Sherman said. “Thank you to our customers, because without them, none of this would have happened.”

Find more on Clean Water Guys at

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