Jan. 1 2004 12:00 AM

GPM Lawn Sprinkler and Lighting Supplies

Robert Drucker started at 16 installing sprinkler systems out of his truck. Now age 48, Drucker owns three irrigation supply stores, an irrigation company, a swimming pool installation company, and, as we go to press, a new company is being added.Drucker didn?t plan his future this way. As a high school student in 1969-70 he noticed that his neighbors were having sprinkler systems installed. He needed to earn a few buck and because he was good at putting things together, he thought he could earn some money installing sprinklers. He kept doing it while attending college at SUNY at Stony Brook, Long Island, New York.
His plan was to be a physician and he was a pre-med major. Upon graduation he was going to take a year off and then go to medical school. However, in 1977, when he found that he couldn?t get a job using his university degree, he continued with his business. He was surprised at how much money he made that year, and that was the end of medical school. In 1980, (10 years after he began installing sprinklers) Drucker opened his first parts store and that was the beginning of GPM (gallons per minute) Lawn Sprinkler and Lighting Supplies.
The growth of the irrigation industry allowed him to expand and today he has three stores on Long Island, New York. He sells and services between 400 and 500 accounts. Drucker is proud to say, ?My people are excellent when it comes to dealing with contractors.?
And that he believes is the reason he is the third largest irrigation supply house on Long Island. Two other companies that Drucker owns are All Island Irrigation (the original business) and All Island Gunite, which does custom gunite for swimming pools. In fact, the supply parts business is getting so large he is thinking about selling the irrigation contracting business in spite of the fact that they have between 5,000 and 10,000 accounts. Also, the gunite company is among the top 10 in the country. Drucker lives with his wife, Carol, and their four children (two from his first marriage, and two from hers) on Long Island. Their children, Brian 20, Ilene 15, Joseph 21, and Anthony 19, are all in school; Ilene is in high school, the boys are all in college. Joseph is a business major who plans on entering the business upon completion of his studies.
Brian is majoring in engineering because Drucker told him, ?I don?t need another business major, but I could use an engineer.? Both Brian and Joe have worked in the business during the summer for the past two to three years. They are learning from the ground up, and doing very well. ?They started from the bottom doing all of the hardest jobs and now they can handle customers on their own. I?m very proud of them.? Drucker recalls, that Brian came to him and said, ?
Dad, you?re my best friend. You work harder than anyone I know, you play harder than anyone I know, and I?d be a fool not to want to be part of this company after I?ve seen what it can produce and how it grows every year. I almost cried when I heard that.? Drucker views his businesses as family. Depending on the season, he has between 50 and 100 employees. ?A lot of them have grown with me and some of them have been with me 15 years, 18 years, some 20 years. Some of them started out as kids working during the summers and now they are managing stores for me, or different divisions. They have become part of the family.? When I go to work every day, it is a constant learning experience and a constant challenge. ?I still enjoy trying to grow the business.? He still does some sales work and works with customers. As Drucker explains, ?I?m anywhere I need to be. I?m very hands-on and whatever is necessary, I do. A plumber; an electrician; I?m a problem solver. I can help because, over the years, I have done almost everything. I have knowledge in many fields.? Drucker keeps current by going to all the trade shows; the irrigation shows, the pool shows, home electronic shows.
We?re going to be doing whole house computer controls soon.? You?ll be able to control everything in your house from your sprinkler system to your swimming pool to your surveillance cameras. You?ll be able to view what is going on inside and outside your house over the Internet while you are on vacation. This company is called All Island Custom Electronics and is being created as we go to press.
Drucker has a simple philosophy; ?We develop our own market.? Once he learns something, he offers seminars teaching contractors how to do it. ?I run two to three day schools in lighting three or four times a year and we do the same for irrigation. This does two things ? it provides the contractor an opportunity to upgrade skills, and also increases GPM?s market. Moreover, he foresees tremendous growth in the irrigation industry and has plans to add more stores in the near future. From his truck, as a successful contractor, he turned it into a successful wholesale business, and now is one of the top gunite companies in the country.
Who says it is not possible to succeed in the irrigation business?

January 2004