This article appeared in the July 2020 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Water remains our world’s most important natural resource. Yet, our world is changing and our needs have evolved. We’re more aware of nutrition, physical fitness and wellness; in 2016 sales of bottled water surpassed carbonated soft drinks for the first time ever (according to a Beverage Marketing Corporation report released in 2017). We’re also more “on the go” than ever before. Reliable access to water is essential and it still has to taste great.
That’s the centerpiece of Nestlé Waters’ mission — delivering quality bottled water that is both refreshing and healthy.
“Under trusted brands like Ice Mountain, Pure Life and Poland Spring, we make water available across every type — natural spring water, purified water, distilled water, mineral water and sparkling water,” said Jeremiah Thompson, Factory Manager for Nestlé Waters’ Michigan and Indiana facilities. “There’s a lot of complexity to what we do and I think we have a responsibility to provide great daily options for people when and where they need it.”
While demand for Nestlé brands continues to trend upward, people aren’t just demanding water, they’re demanding water with a taste they recognize.
“Our brands are available nationwide and abroad, yet, we have noticed that people have particular preferences based on where they grew up. They crave something familiar,” explained Thompson. “For example, Michigan consumers tend to be drawn to the taste of Ice Mountain while someone in the northeast might favor the flavor and taste of Poland Spring. There’s a real science to getting it right region-by-region.”
Nestlé’s Stanwood facility, now encompassing more than 850,000 square feet, provides Michigan with a high-quality, state-of-the-art production system for bottled water ranging from 8- ounce bottles to 2.5-gallon jugs.
“People are choosing healthy hydration. It can be bottled, filtered or straight from the tap, but water is making a comeback,” said Thompson. “We want to make sure there’s a quality option available to everyone; no matter where they go.”
Thompson and his team don’t use the word “quality” lightly either. From the source to the customer, they perform thousands of quality checks to ensure the highest standard possible. Their passion and care is also on display through the people who do the work every day.
“We’re always looking out for one another — we can’t succeed without everyone being on board,” said Thompson. “I think for any manufacturer it’s that way, and our employees believe in providing the highest quality, most delicious and most reliable product to consumers. This commitment becomes a way of thinking that gets into the whole company culture.”
Over the next five to 10 years, that culture will continue to thrive as Thompson’s team has plans for further investment into projects to highlight the need for greater recycling efforts, reductions to overall plastic usage, packaging innovation, more community involvement and strengthening their voice in efforts to protect Michigan’s water, land and other natural resources.
“When you get to know Nestlé’s values, you quickly discover how much we care,” Thompson stated. “At the end of the day, whether you make a product people drink or not, it needs to be about the people. Be upfront and honest with them. Open your doors to the community and build up those relationships so that they get to know you. Trust is everything in manufacturing.”