October 30, 2009
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor
To say that the bottled-water industry has a public image problem these days—being continually berated for wasting the planet’s most precious finite resource and littering the landscape with empty plastic bottles—is tantamount to stating the obvious.
But not much more obvious, perhaps, than saying that the industry would not be living through such as public relations nightmare if more of its main players approached their business with the sort of progressive and proactive mindset displayed by the likes of Ice River Springs Water Company Inc. of Feversham, Ont.
Founded in 1995 by the local husband-and-wife team of Jamie and Sandy Gott—one-time trout and poultry farmers and, later, vendors of firewood and natural stone—the company had grown in giant leaps and bounds since Jamie erected a 5,000-square-foot-facility on the family farm right next to the nearby Beaver River, about 200 kilometers north of Toronto.
In fact, by 1998 the water-bottling business had grown to the point where the Gott’s made it their full-time occupation, the company’s executive vice-president Sandy Gott told Canadian Packaging on a recent visit to the Feversham water-bottling plant, which is today a state-of-the art, 560,000-square-foot facility employing 200 people—or about half the population of Feversham.
Today ranking as Canada’s largest bottled-water producer, the company also operates Canadian-based sister plants in Grafton, Ont., Calgary, and Cranbrook B.C., as well as four plants in the U.S.— Kentland, Ind., Pittsfield, Ma., Morganton, N.C. and Marianna, Fla.—employing an additional 200 people between them.