What Do U.S. Presidents, Elvis, Joe Louis and a Kansas City Private Equity Firm Have in Common?
When it comes to sourcing investment opportunities it’s important to understand the industry dynamics. The bottled water industry is an interesting one considering its change and growth, which shows no sign of slowing any time soon. 2017 was an industry milestone when bottled water outsold carbonated soft drinks for the first time. Bottled water consumption hit 39.3 gallons per capita compared to soft drinks at 38.5 gallons per capita. Over the past 40 years, bottled water consumption has grown more than 2,700 percent.
An emphasis on health and wellness has consumers evaluating the effects of soda on their health. Now, not only are consumers choosing water over soda, but they’re also choosing what type of water they buy based on where it comes from, what the brand stands for, and the health benefits gained (real or perceived).
The Mountain Valley Spring Water Company is well positioned in the bottled water category. The company goes toe to toe with imported brands, and it’s unique in the marketplace as an American premium water given its heritage, brand and packaging, mineral content and pH levels, and environmental footprint. The water has been bottled from the same spring on 2,000 acres of protected forest in the Ouachita Mountains since 1871, making it the longest continuously operated bottled water company in the U.S. The water’s refreshing taste comes from granite-based aquifers which it has flowed through for 3,500 years. It is naturally high in minerals and has a pH level of 7.8.
Frankly, we think it’s the best tasting water in the world. And a solid investment. So do The Mountain Valley Spring Water Company’s loyal fans and the judges who’ve awarded it “Best Tasting Water in the World” twice at Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting. The water is bottled primarily in recyclable glass. Thanks to low impact water withdrawal from the spring, it is not depleting the springs from which it’s drawn like other water companies have done (and are still doing). It’s a domestic product, reducing resources required to import other brands from overseas.
The spring water has been the hydrator of choice for the U.S. Senate and presidents from Eisenhower to Clinton, and legends like Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Joe Louis. It was even provided to American troops in World War II. Proud history. Storied brand and products. Strong consumer loyalty. These qualities are common among companies in GRC’s portfolio.
But in many respects, The Mountain Valley Spring Water Company missed out on the explosion of the single-serve disposable bottled water industry. The company’s water was historically only delivered in large glass bottles and delivered to the home. While the company had started to penetrate retail distribution prior to GRC’s ownership, we partnered with former Nestle Water and industry water executives, Jim Waldeck and Rick Tanner, to elevate the brand and gain traction in the growing bottled water industry. The company’s story was already in place, and it was waiting to be told. Investments were made in revamping the brand and packaging, upgrading equipment and accelerating into retail while continuing to grow home and office delivery.
As part of Great Range Capital’s portfolio, The Mountain Valley Spring Water Company has become a leading premium bottled water company in the industry.