Food Service & Agriculture, Manufacturing, and Retail

Boxed Water continues rapid expansion

Company sold product in stores across the country just a year after launching in 2009.

July 7, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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Boxed Water
The premise for Boxed Water is that it uses a renewable resource — trees — as opposed to plastic to produce its packaging. The idea is catching on for the firm, which last year moved its offices to downtown Grand Rapids. Courtesy Boxed Water

Boxed Water outgrew its office in Holland, moved to downtown Grand Rapids last year and already outgrew that space.

Daryn Kuipers, Boxed Water’s CEO, said the move to downtown was to help recruit talent for the growing company, which has reached 50 employees this year, with more positions opening. Previously, the company’s headquarters was at its Holland filling facility, which was joined in 2016 by a facility in Utah to fill its packaged water.

“The office grew out here, until we were all on top of each other and eight of the 10 people were coming in from Grand Rapids,” Kuipers said. “When we’re recruiting talent, we want that downtown feel and to be accommodating. It seemed like everyone we were interviewing was in Grand Rapids.”

Boxed Water has grown significantly since it first launched on March 4, 2009, when it dropped off four cases of water boxes to Grand Central Market in downtown Grand Rapids. Less than a month later, Boxed Water was in 10 Grand Rapids stores, and by February 2010, the brand was in stores in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

Today, Boxed Water ships from more than 200 distribution points to retailers across the country and began selling on Amazon last month. Food distributors, such as Sysco and Gordon Food Services, carry Boxed Water, but it’s now the beverage distributors — such as Grand Rapids-based Alliance Beverage — helping the brand grow into more retail locations, Kuipers said.

Major grocers also carry the brand across the country, including SpartanNash and Meijer locally, and Whole Foods and Kroger nationally.

Boxed Water is continuing to invest in the growth of the various channels it takes to enter retail locations. The company recently hired Joe Jankowski as national account executive grocery mass, to lead sales in large grocery chains. Jankowski has more than 22 years in sales and operations for brands in grocery, including 15 years managing beverage brands and a sales leadership position at Sunny Delight Beverages Co. The company also has two other national sales leadership positions, one for convenience stores and one for on-premise locations, such as parks, aquariums and office buildings.

“We have done well in on-the-go purchases in convenience and retail store fronts,” Kuipers said. “The next natural evolution is expanding our footprint in grocery.”

As the brand grew, specifically out west, a new filling facility was needed, so Boxed Water opened the Utah facility for ease of access to the Pacific states.

It wasn’t until 2016 when the company’s employee numbers really began to grow, as it jumped from 18 in 2015 to 38 last year. Now, the sales force is expanding to grow the retail outlets.

As the brand continues to grow, Kuipers said filling facilities could be opened in a number of U.S. regions. The company already is running two shifts at each of its filling stations.

“We’re not a spring water; our goal is to get it to the customer in the most efficient manner as possible,” Kuipers said. “If we can fill as close to them as possible, we could potentially put a facility in whatever municipality needs it.”

Ideally, consumers would use reusable water bottles, Kuipers said, but Boxed Water is meant for the times those are inaccessible. Instead of turning to plastic, Boxed Water is an option made from a renewable resource: trees.

“People realize (plastic bottles) aren’t the best thing, we all know that, but it’s hard to go a day without interacting with them,” Kuipers said. “If you’re conscious about it, it’s one small thing to be better. An easy habit change.”

Along with a growing sales force, Boxed Water also launched a new website this year to help consumers order online or find where the product is sold nearby. The focus will continue to be an easily accessible option for consumers who want to be more conscious about their choices on the environment, Kuipers said.

“We want to make sure our customers have the option and make sure we’re right there with them,” he said. “We’re focusing on helping consumers find the product near them or online. Take both avenues and run full steam ahead.”

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