Richard Zakka, president and chief executive officer, likes to think his idea to start a water company in October 2005 was divinely inspired. He had been in the film industry for 35 years in New York and even the company’s Vice President of Operations and Richard’s son Luke Zakka graduated from music school. The entrepreneurs, though, saw a consumer need that they could capitalize on with bottled water.
Zakka spent months traveling across Upstate New York looking for the perfect spring. He finally found a source on 1,000 acres west of Woodstock, N.Y., and rented the spring for 40 years.
“We literally came in and in the middle of the bush built the plant from zero,” Zakka says. “We brought in a state-of-the-art bottling plant, and we basically do everything up there from blowing our own bottles to, obviously, packaging it.”
For its VBlast! and VBee! beverages, the company also invested in Fusion Cap Technology, a cap that keeps ingredients separate until consumers are ready to drink the beverage.
New York Spring Water’s flagship spring water is packaged in a square bottle and available in four sizes. In addition to domestic distribution that is concentrated in New York, the brand is available in Japan. After the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, the company donated thousands of liters of water from Takeshita Distribution, the company’s local distributor, to the Japanese government.
The need for smaller portions and an environmentally friendly package inspired the company’s development of the Cup-A-Water brand. The foil-topped, thin plastic cups are filled with New York Spring Water and available in 140-ml., 200-ml. and 300-ml. sizes.
The company also offers the VBlast! Vitamins and Spring Water brand, which is a 0.5-liter enhanced water that stores vitamins in its cap in a concentrate. VBlast! is free of sugar and caffeine and is available in eight flavors. The line is sold in about 5,000 stores in the New York City metropolitan area, and this month, will launch in 7-Eleven stores nationwide.
“The beauty of VBlast! is that the vitamins are UV-protected until the consumer releases them into the water, Zakka says. “Therefore, you really are getting vitamins.”
New York Spring Water also offers VBee!, especially formulated for kids using the reservoir cap as well. The 8-ounce enhanced waters are available in Watermelon, Blue Raspberry and Green Apple flavors.
“We’ve discovered in America that our kids lack vitamin D and calcium,” Zakka says. “We created VBee! in three kiddie friendly flavors, and they provide vitamin D and calcium.”
Slightly different than its other enhanced waters, Aqua84 is a spring water infused with 84 minerals from Himalayan Mountain crystal salt.
“We have raised the pH to 9 and added electrolytes, and we’re getting it out to retail for $1,” Zakka says.
If anything, one of the company’s problems is that it comes out with too many products, he says. “We don’t copy anyone, and it’s got to be priced well and play Hollywood, if you will, or play on Broadway, I should say,” Zakka explains.
Last year, actress and singer Queen Latifah invested in the company, under her Flavor Unit Entertainment company, with a goal to grow the company globally. Additionally, the company is in the process of preparing a national commercial and print campaign with Queen Latifah.
After that announcement, Tyreke Evans, point guard for the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings, endorsed VBlast! and Aqua84. The NBA 2010 Rookie of the Year will be featured in New York Spring Water’s national campaign and appear in upcoming TV appearances, commercials, social media outlets and billboard advertisements in key markets.
“Basically, everything that we are doing [with Tyreke Evans] is a focus on ‘Keeping It Fresh,’ which is our newest tagline and that’s been introduced into our packaging and also our whole concept behind VBlast! now,” Luke Zakka says.
And it isn’t all about making money for the company. It created the Font of Mercy charity to manage contributions going to organizations, which drill wells and build potable water systems in developing countries.