By Nate F. Searing, WC&P Managing Editor

Located about 120 miles northwest of San Diego and just as far south of Riverside, California, Borrego Springs is a small community nestled within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Situated in the northeastern portion of San Diego County, it is one of several dozen towns of similar size in the region, home to roughly 2,500 people.

Glenn Drown, owner of Borrego Springs Bottled Water, hopes to one day serve them all.

Drown purchased Borrego Springs Water from his friends Frank and Judy Eckis four years ago and has doubled the company’s size and facilitated five new distributorships in his first 48 months at the helm.

“It’s taking a lot of time and a lot of energy, but we’re turning Borrego Springs Bottled Water into a real gem in this community,” Drown said. “There are some big plans on the horizon.”

To get there, the bottling company has taken a unique approach to marketing its products, expanding its presence in San Diego County through distributorships and helping to benefit local small businesses and nonprofit groups. So far, the strategies have been effective, helping to propel Borrego Springs Water to parts of the City of San Diego, Julian and other smaller municipalities.

According to Drown, the company divides its business into three market categories: residential users, which includes delivery of three- and five-gallon bottles, businesses and nonprofit groups, both of which are targeted for their private labeling potential.

Borrego Springs Water currently offers a variety of bottled water products including private labeling, home delivery and direct sale:

  • Drinking Water, with a multi-step filtration process that includes RO and carbon filtration.
  • Fluoridated Water having the same filtration process as drinking water, but with added fluoride per U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
  • Purified Water, a deionized drinking water that has all salts and minerals removed.
  • Mountain Spring Water sourced from the Laguna and Paloma Mountains in San Diego Country, purified through ozonation, carbon filtration and micron filters.

Private labeling opportunities
About 40 percent of Borrego Springs’ business comes from its private labeling services. A company’s name, logo and other contact information can be placed on the bottles, providing a unique product for sale or as a promotional gift.
According to Drown, the majority of private labeling service is for half-liter bottles, typically used by small businesses as a cost-effective product to market their own products or services.

“We’ve purposely kept our minimum order size very small, 40 cases, to make it affordable and appealing to that market sector,” Drown said. “It’s part of the focus so far. It’s really been on the private labeling side of things. It’s a way for us to help other small businesses and nonprofit groups benefit from more exposure. We’re a small business too, and we want to help them in any way we can.”

Private labeling for non-profits
Borrego Springs also markets their private label bottled water as an opportunity for non-profit groups and charity organizations to raise money for and awareness about their causes.

The company’s half-liter bottles cost approximately 49 cents, depending on labeling options, with minimum orders of 960 bottles (40 cases). When resold for a suggested retail price of $1.20 per bottle, the profit is more than $599.
Drown also suggests these groups employ a sponsor, to underwrite the cost of the water while the charity group retains the profits. The result, Drown said, is a marketing and moneymaking opportunity for nonprofit groups that is unlike any other available in the region.

“These are small communities where everyone knows each other and this is just one more way for us to be a productive part of the community,” Drown said.

Seeking independent distributors
Borrego Springs is currently seeking additional distributors for its three- and five-gallon bottles throughout San Diego County and southeastern Riverside County. The company now has five independent distributors; three selling Borrego Springs water under a private label and two others using the company name.

That option is key to Borrego Spring’s expansion efforts, enticing new distributors with the lure of their own company name, Drown said, with only a commitment of a warehouse from potential distributors.

First, individuals who want to become a distributor can develop their own company name and logo, and deliver Borrego Springs water inside their own privately labeled bottles. Or, they can distribute in the traditional sense, acting as an expansion of the Borrego Springs Bottled Water name by delivering the company’s bottles.

“There’s not a lot of other bottlers who are taking that approach,” Drown said. “We’re doing it for two reasons. First, it’s a really effective way of bringing new distributors on board. Second, the communities we are serving are small, and when a distributor can carry his own name on the bottle, he has a connection to that community that’s hard for an outside company to emulate.”

Drown said he hopes to use the Borrego Springs office as a regional hub for a variety of smaller distributors who are selling Borrego Springs Water under their own names.

“I haven’t been as aggressive as I could be with marketing new distributors and expanding Borrego Springs,” said Drown, who manages three additional businesses unrelated to the water industry. “But I think we are growing in the right way. We’re staying close to our community, we are helping other small businesses and we are doing it in such a way that our success gives something back.”

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