By Denise M. Roberts
Angelica Saldivar and Hugo Figueroa, owner/operators of Fresca Waterhouse, are grateful their neighbors have entrusted them with something as important as their clean water and health. Serving the greater Reno/Sparks, NV area, the company’s mission is to provide the community with the highest quality drinking water at the best value through self-serve water refill stations and vending machines. The husband and wife team enlist the aid of another family member during the summer months, but otherwise, handle all aspects of the business themselves.
Saldivar, the company spokesperson, was introduced to the water treatment industry in her youth when she worked several summer vacations with distant family members who owned their own water stores in southern California. “I didn’t think much about it until a decade later,” she said. “After graduating from college and working in the field of accounting and IT, I made the move to northern Nevada to follow several business opportunities. While here, I found myself looking for a place that provided the purified drinking water I had become accustomed to all my life. There was no such place, and with that need came an idea to build and operate my own. Many people come in and thank me for providing them with the purified water they need to keep their family healthy. It makes me proud to hear those words, and it keeps me going when times get tough. I struggled for a few years to keep the business open and afloat. The economy still isn’t back to what it used to be but my customers are the ones who keep me motivated and give me words of encouragement to keep at it, because to them it is an important part of their lives.
“As a retail, self-serve establishment, our customers bring their empty reusable bottles and refill here, instead of having it home delivered or purchased already bottled at a grocery store. Our clientele is varied, from families to small businesses. But all are budget-conscious and would rather refill themselves. Northern Nevada has faced high unemployment rates and one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, which has affected the type of customers I have seen come into our retail store. Many customers are in some sort of transitional housing, apartments or condos after losing their homes to foreclosure. Many used to have in-house systems, or used to pay for bottled water delivery, but now cannot afford it.
”We serve the residents of Washoe County where an in-house filtration system is out of reach economically, but don’t want to give up quality water for themselves or their families. I’ve had several customers proudly come in and tell me that our water has even surprised dealers that make in-house consultations and test their drinking water, trying to sell them a system. ‘Wow!‘ they always respond. ‘Your water is actually good!’ Customers come in elated, knowing they’re getting just as good, or even better water, than from an in-house system, for a fraction of the cost. This is exactly what keeps me going, makes me feel proud to have this business, knowing I make a difference every day in the lives of so many people and they appreciate it. Customers have also become more educated about the resources required to bottle water and know how our self-serve system leaves a much lighter carbon footprint than bottled water, with far fewer plastic water bottles in the landfill. ”
“Customer service has always been and will continue to be the key to our success,” said Saldivar. To meet these quality expectations, Fresca Waterhouse employs an eight-stage purification process that includes RO treatment. For customers who have to deal with regional problems such as hardness, iron, arsenic and bad odor and color, this simplifies their quest for clean, safe water at an affordable price. The drinking water is routinely sampled and quality checked by an independent laboratory and conforms to Washoe County District Health Department standards, giving customers assurance that they are receiving quality products. Company services include rinse and refill stations, an RV refill station and an outside, double-vending station at the front of the store. At night, the area is well lit for customer convenience. The machines can accommodate most standard water bottles and can fill two bottles at a time. Coins and bills are accepted, making it even more convenient. In addition, customers may pay for services inside the store with debit or credit cards during business hours.
“Customers are constantly referring their friends and neighbors to us, because they trust that we deliver a quality product,” Saldivar noted. Recently, the company got a little more attention than expected, in the form of a rare encounter with a badger. According to wildlife officials, there are badgers in the mountain areas but they are not generally found in town. In August, one made its way into the store and stirred up more than a little excitement. Covered by KRNV-News4, the incident made an impression on the owners and the customers. “Although we don’t have a company mascot, our recent and unusual encounter with a badger gives our customers reason to believe that it should be the mascot!” said Saldivar. The full story can be viewed at www.mynews4.com/news/story/Badger-caught-at-Sparks-water-store/oo6S9xqWE0GNfPOTUH2DbA.cspx and is certainly an interesting tale.
While regulatory issues may make a water dealership more difficult to maintain, Saldivar notes that local water regulations are too lax. “When we have more stringent water purification regulations, it provides citizens with a better product and ultimately, better health. We hold ourselves to a much higher standard than what local authorities require. That is both good and bad. It’s great for our water store and our products, but frustrating because others aren’t providing the same quality product.” In spite of that, Saldivar has no reason to change the business practices. “Our future plans are to continue to provide our community with the best purified drinking water, to be the affordable solution to their drinking water needs. Our retail plans also include expanding into other neighborhoods and continuing with our community outreach programs.” As a result of their commitment to water quality and customer service, there is every reason to believe this company will have a very successful run for years to come.