La Feria News
Feature Stories by Bill Keltner

Yes, You Can Go Home

The Story of Culligan Water of the Rio Grande

Tyler Stenseng at home as General Manager of CULLIGAN WATER of The Rio Grande Valley

According to an old adage that has been repeated so often that it is considered Gospel, the sayings goes: “you can never go home.” However, the current General Manager of Culligan Water of the Rio Grande, Tyler Stenseng, has effectively dispelled that popular belief.

Like the Greek hero in Homer‘s epic poem about Odysseus‘s ten-year journey back home after the Trojan War, Tyler found that everything he really wanted was to be found back home where he started--in the Rio Grande Valley.

To begin with: The new Culligan General Manager is a true Valleyite. He was born in San Benito--in Dolly Vinsant Hospital, to be exact, to Winslow and Susan Stenseng. It gets interesting here because both of his parents are from Minnesota--about as far north as you can get from the Mexican border. Interestingly, what brought the family to the Valley in the first place, was a business opportunity that came their way--the opportunity to buy the Culligan Water Franchise for South Texas. They came, it looked good, and they bought it.

That is why young Tyler says that he was born into the water business. But let’s go back a bit: Tyler graduated from Harlingen High School in 1999. Then, to the delight of his family, he chose their Alma Mater for his formal university education. So, he was off to St. Olaf Lutheran College in their native Minnesota-- The same College from which both his father and his paternal grandmother had graduated. Not familiar with that school? That is because you are not from Minnesota. That northern state was settled mostly by Scandinavian immigrants, including Norway, Finland, and Sweden. Olaf is the Patron Saint of Norway. So, logically, he was chosen as the namesake for this college.

After graduating from St. Olaf with a degree in Social Studies and Business Management, Tyler, like the Greek hero in Homer’s Odyssey, set out to learn, and, as he puts it, “broaden my horizons.“ He worked in banks and in the insurance business. “I was well-paid, but, unsatisfied with my career options, and wanted more than I found in banking,” he said.

About this time, my parents gave me the opportunity to join the Culligan family business in the Valley. “That was a great opportunity for me--now, I would be able to work, and continue my education at the University of Texas in Brownsville.” In 2007, I walked across the stage and accepted my diploma as Master in Business Administration (MBA Degree). With that achieved, I moved to Iowa as a Financial Analyst for an Insurance Brokerage house—for another couple of years in the Midwest. “But, this was still not what I wanted to do.“

“After working for others for years, I remembered what my father said about the value of working for myself,” he said. “My Dad always told me that, but now I finally realized that he was right.” The family now sat down and talked about his future. The result was that Tyler decided to settle down and set his roots for good in the Valley in the family business. “That was April 2011,” he remembered, adding, “It was a good decision. I am in my first year with the company and doing what I really enjoy.”
“My father is the President and Owner of Culligan Water in the Rio Grande,” Tyler said. “He doesn’t second guess me, and has given my overall management responsibility with the company. Culligan is a great company with 800 franchise worldwide.”

He added that the Rio Grande Valley offers a tremendous opportunity and a good market for our water purification business. His family bought the franchise in 1975, and it has grown steadily ever since.

“Anyone who has lived in the Valley for any length of time, knows we have a water problem because the Valley depends on water from the Rio Grande and surface water from both sides of the river. From the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, one river town’s discharge water is the next town’s drinking water. All that gets even more complicated when you combine that with flooding, which introduces natural and chemical fertilizers, septic tank overflows, and discharges of industrial wastes directly into the water supply--need I say more?”

“The Culligan System stands above and apart from others in the business,” he elaborated. “We have someone available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to deliver bottled water and water-softener salt or other needs. Others don’t do that. The core of our business is household service. We also have contracts with hotels, hospitals, manufacturing plants and restaurants,” he said.

Our office invites inquiries into any water problem people may have. We like to help people solve problems.. Please call us at (956) 399-1780 or visit our web page at

Tyler with his parents: Susan and Winslow (Win) Stenseng.

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