John F. Netto, chairman and president of Salt Lake-based Water & Power Technologies, a water purification and filtration company, is proof that the school of hard knocks can provide a pretty good education for business.

A high school dropout, Netto sold cosmetics, cookware and Bibles door-to-door, then later moved on to selling cars and shoes.At age 22, he started delivering bottled water for Mount Olympus Waters, did route sales and sold water coolers. He collected delinquent accounts and then moved into collections full time.

He wanted to get back to sales, but the boss said no. Netto then want out on his own and sold a $2,500 water purification system. The boss changed his mind and Netto became a full-time salesman.

After three years, Netto was recruited by a bigger company, but he didn't like it and went back to Mount Olympus with an agreement with the company president that if Netto could expand the company's then small industrial division more than he could, he would earn a partnership.

In 1986, Netto did a $6 million deal with Eastman Kodak and became a 30 percent owner of the company. In 1991, he bought out his partner for $2.6 million and became sole proprietor.

Netto has developed several new markets and capabilities and has launched a fabrication system group to supply the products the company sells.

He also started a chemical sales group to treat boilers and cooling towers and began an outsourcing marketing strategy using trailer mounted and land based systems.