Wednesday, December 24, 2014

20 years of customer service & company growth

Richard (Dick) Schuessler is in a unique position to comment on Norland’s growth and development as a company. Hired in December 1994, Dick was the company’s second employee, brought on board by president Mike McFarland.

“I had been working as a salesman for another company, and found myself on the road more than I was at home,” Richard said. “So when Mike started the company and was looking to fill the position of Manager of Customer Service, I eagerly agreed to come on board a new and exciting venture.”

Over the next 20 years, Richard helped the company grow from its humble beginnings focusing on a core product to a world-class manufacturing powerhouse with three divisions and 65 (and growing!) employees.

Although Richard semi-retired earlier this month, he will still be around on a part-time basis to continue helping Norland succeed.

A proven record of customer service
Richard brought years of diversified experience with him when he joined the Norland family. He had an established background in sales and customer service, and electrical and industrial engineering in both the private sector and the military.

He has patents in the design of oscilloscopes, using ultrasound to detect cracks in human teeth, and at Norland helped design evaluations and testing of single effect, and high efficiency multiple-effect and vapor-compression water distillation systems.

“Distillation equipment was the initial machinery Norland produced and had great success in manufacturing and selling,” Richard said.

Initially, Richard’s main role at Norland was Managing Customer Service, the coordination and scheduling of customer start-up services and in-plant technical support services for Norland technicians who traveled around the world to help customers. He also provided after-the-purchase customer support for the full range of Norland equipment. Richard even traveled a time or two himself, recalling fondly his first international trip for Norland.

“I had the opportunity to help a customer in the setup, operation and training of equipment purchased from Norland.” Richard said. “Since that first trip, I have made many friends around the world by putting myself in the customer’s shoes and trying to help them find the solutions to their problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Richard’s background
Richard was born and raised in Grand Island, Nebraska. He attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. He went on to graduate school at UNL and obtained a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering. He also met his wife, Phyllis, while attending graduate school.

Today, the couple have been married for 37 years and have two children, Erin and Jess, and one grandchild, Zion. Before joining Norland, Richard taught classes in Industrial Engineering at UNL. He also spent three years in the Army during the Vietnam era, where he was the project manager for the first use of fiber optics in communications.

During his semi-retirement, Richard plans on watching his grandson’s sporting events, listening to SW radio and playing fantasy sports with his son.

At Norland, Richard will still help out with customer service and scheduling customer start-up services.

“The environment here at Norland is very rewarding so I don’t plan to fully retire anytime in the near future, if health permits,” Richard said.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Siemers are doing business "The Right Water" way

 Lorne and Joan Siemers, along with their four kids, Emma, Grace, Owen and Liam, live in St. Paul, Alberta, Canada, the heart of oil country, with a strong agricultural base.  We are all born, raised, and live in the communities we now serve.

1)Why did you decide to get into the bottled-water business?

We had a desire to diversify.  When the opportunity to purchase an established water bottling and delivery business presented itself, we saw it as an exciting new proposition for our family to invest in, with growth potential.  On July 4, 2011, we became the new owners of that business.
We further expanded the business in May 2012 with the purchase of our closest competitor and merged the two companies together under the new name, “The Right Water Bottling Company.”
2)How did you find Norland and why did you decide to purchase from us?

When we got into the water business, the bottling process was still very hands on.  We felt there had to be a better way to bottle water that was more effective and efficient, while reducing the possibility of contamination.  So we started researching on-line and found Norland.  After contacting Chris McCormack and visiting the facilities at Norland, we knew that Norland was the best choice for us.  Norland designs, builds and tests all of its equipment on site.  There is a qualified person behind every step of the process, available to answer any questions or concerns, including technical support.  And even though Norland is over 1,400 miles away from us, we consider them a “local” company that we can easily deal with.

3)You mainly use the Triton 160. How is the machine working for you? How many bottles a year do you produce? How has Norland’s customer service helped you over the years?

We started using the Triton 160 in March 2012, and it has been a fantastic machine for us.  It has been a real work horse, simplistic in its use and maintenance.  It has increased our productivity, and alleviated our concerns regarding possible contamination issues, and has even received high praise from our health inspector. Norland stands behind its equipment, and staff are always available to answer any service questions or concerns we've had, including shipping out parts to us in a timely manner to keep us up and running with minimal down time, which is extremely important to us. 
In the 2 ½ + years since we've been using the Triton 160, we've bottled over 430,000  3 and 5 gallon water bottles.

4)How do you use your equipment? (What size bottles do you produce? Do you add flavors or minerals to your water?)

We are involved mainly with the production and delivery of the 5 and 3 gallon water bottles.  We use the process of reverse osmosis with ozone to produce the purest drinking water.  As of this time, we do not add any flavors or minerals to our water, however, with the set up of our new facility, we’ve allowed for the future expansion into this area.

5)Tell us about your business. How many employees do you have? How big of a territory do you cover? How has your business grown since you’ve started? Any plans for future growth?  

We currently service a large area, delivering water bottles within a 125 mile radius to convenience stores, oilfield sites, schools, businesses and private residences, both rural and urban.  We started with one business, one truck, then bought out a competitor, added 4 more trucks, 2 smaller in town delivery vehicles and more employees. We have 3 employees and ourselves, and deliver approximately 3,000 – 3,500 bottles a week.  We are very hands-on owners, involved in the daily production, delivery runs and office administration. Our four kids, ages 12 to 8, put their time in too on a daily basis, making this a family oriented business.

Further expansion is underway with the renovation of a larger facility to accommodate our growing business.  This will include upgrading the Triton 160 to the Triton 450, which will enable us to keep up with the demand.  This will also reduce the need to hire more employees, as Alberta is currently experiencing a labour shortage.

In addition to the production of the 5 and 3 gallon water bottles, we are gearing up to produce 500 mL custom labeled water bottles.  Our goal is to market this product to businesses, organizations, schools and community groups.  Norland, of course, has supplied us with a complete SpectraPak 3000 bottling line.  This includes the blow molder, unscrambler, case pack and shrink wrap systems, and we are very excited to start producing our own small water bottles.

In addition to the production and delivery of water, we also produce party ice, which we supply to liquor stores, convenience stores, and lake resorts, with peak ice season from May to September.  This part of our business has also seen increased growth this past year, and we are currently looking to upgrade this process for next year to accommodate the growing demand.
We also have two self serve water dispensers for customers to use.

6)Any other thoughts you wish to share about your business, the importance of bottled water, or how Norland has worked with you to make your business a success?  

Norland has been absolutely fantastic to deal with.  Their staff is knowledgable, professional and a pleasure to deal with.  We’ve been to the Norland facility three times in the past three years, and each time they have been very welcoming, like old friends.  We are able to put a face to every name.  They also understand our desire to grow our business, and offer valuable advice to help us do just that.
Norland’s technicians also attend on site initially to properly set up the equipment and ensure it’s running to specifications, and provide training on all of the equipment.  We look forward to seeing the Norland team at our new facility to get us up and running.

Patrick McFarland at Norland has also provided us with oxo-biodegradable caps, which has allowed both us and our customers the ability to minimize our impact on the environment, while still maintaining a competitive edge. This is especially beneficial to our customers in the oilfield industry, who have received a bad reputation with their “dirty oil.”

They’ve also given us contacts to suppliers for preforms, shrink wrap, and cardboard trays, which has been invaluable to us, especially since we are just starting out with the small bottling line.
We would highly recommend Norland International to anyone in the water bottling business, and will continue to do business with them in the years to come.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Todd Liberty - The man with the plan

Todd Liberty, the man with the plan

Todd Liberty is an American native, but in the fall of 2013, he was given an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“Mr. Gomes Bonda is a business man in Luanda, Angola, and always wanted to start a business near his home town of Negage,” Liberty said. “In 2011, he purchased some land near Negage that included a fresh water spring and founded the Cesse Spring Water Company. After a few years of planning, construction, licensing and hiring, the plant was ready for full installation in 2013 and I was hired as plant manager in 2013.”

From the start, Liberty said Cesse Spring Water has used equipment purchased from Norland International for several reasons.

“Norland has one of the best reputations in the bottled-water industry,” Liberty said. “The company wanted equipment that was user friendly, could withstand the Angolan heat and would be reliable for many years to come. After researching several companies, Mr. Bonda decided to purchase from Norland.”

Reputation is one thing, but seeing is believing and a trip by Bonda to Norland’s Lincoln, Nebraska, facility in 2012 sealed the deal.

“He saw firsthand the professionalism of the entire staff and the ownership,” Liberty said. “He was able to see equipment operate and sit down face to face with personnel who explained to him in detail about the bottling process. Another key factor for Mr. Bonda, was every piece of equipment for the bottled-water line was made by Norland International.”

Cesse Spring Water currently offers three sizes of bottles, 330ml, 500ml and 1.5L, but plans to expand in the near future.

“We have recently purchased two additional bottling lines, blow molders and 5-gallon equipment from Norland International that we expect to receive in January 2015,” Liberty said. “With the new equipment, we will be adding 5-gallon bottles, 3L bottles and 330ml vitamin water to our product line.”

A great business requires a smart leader like Mr. Bonda, and an efficient plant manager like Liberty, but it also takes reliable, dependable equipment that can handle a heavy workload with minimum down time. Liberty said his company is putting Norland’s equipment to the test.

“Cesse Spring Water just started selling water in February 2014, and as of October 10, 2014, we have produced 2.5 million bottles,” Liberty said. “Norland’s equipment is very durable and reliable. Our downtime and loss of production are very small margins, even when you factor in the heat of Northern Angola. We have only had to contact Norland two or three times since we started producing, which speaks volumes about the reliability of the equipment.”

Since Liberty is an American, one would expect some difficulties in acclimating to a different culture in a different country, but he said language has been the only issue.

“I am always trying to pick up and learn Portuguese and the workers try to teach me,” Liberty said. “I am lucky to have two employees at the plant who know English, which has been a huge asset for me. The Angolan people are great people who take pride in the work they do, the cultures may be different, but our common goals in life are the same.”

Cesse Spring Water has 25 employees and operates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. six days a week. They currently sell water up to six hours away from the factory, with the goal of servicing all of Angola in the near future.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A million bottles of water on the wall...

Craig and Pam Bartschi moved from a small town in eastern Idaho to Boise in 1998 to start a bottled water business. Sixteen years and more than 1,000,000 bottles of water later, Idaho Springs Water has been extremely pleased with their relationship with Norland International.

Norland: Tell us about your business.

Craig: “I am originally from a small town in eastern Idaho.  We moved to Boise in 1998 to start our business. We are very much a family business with all of our children growing up in the business and taking their turn in working at various jobs in the company. My wife Pam is the office manager who took that position after our daughter Dana graduated from college and moved on with her career as a nurse several years ago and after all the kids were in school. Sons, Jason route manager, Jared route driver, Brandon route driver and Cameron as the warehouse manager/bottler who does all the bottling with the help of a friend. We have one other Driver Ben who came to work for us as a friend of one of our boys. We also have one son Jordan who is currently serving a religious mission in Mexico who also worked in the business before he left. Our daughters in law Christina, Tianna, and Megan have also filled in when needed. I come from a retail background (20 years previous experience) and worked for a fortune 500 company in the grocery business in several management positions. In 1998 I was 38 and looking for an opportunity to get into a business of my own. I wasn’t specifically looking to get into the water business at the time but this was the opportunity that presented itself. We started to pursue it and it all fell into place so to speak.”

Norland: How did you choose Norland in the beginning?

Craig: “Norland International was recommended to me as a source for turn-key start up equipment to begin our bottling operation. The decision was pretty simple based on the budget we had and the proposal made by Daren Waters at Norland which provided us with everything we needed to get started.”

Norland: How has the water business changed since 1998?

Craig: “I think it was pretty simple in the beginning. The biggest change has been in product diversification. You used to be competitive with just delivering water and now in my market you can’t be. We added break room coffee service several years ago and a variety of water products, i.e. spring water, purified drinking water, and more recently an alkalized anti-oxidant water product all in an effort to appeal to a broader customer base. We also branched out into POU water treatment and condition systems. This provides us with the opportunity to cross merchandise our products to more customers.”

Norland: How have we helped you keep up with those changes?

Craig: “Norland has been on the leading edge of product development in the equipment line they offer. As we now look at updating our bottling plant, it seems Norland has the next step in our progression covered. They have designed their systems to meet and/or exceed the new regulations our industry must conform too as well as meeting the needs of our growing company.”

Norland: We pride ourselves on after-the-sale customer service. How has the Norland staff helped you over the years?

Craig: “Daren has been very helpful. He was the first one I met from Norland and he has become a good friend over the years. I can say all the employees I have dealt with at Norland have always treated me well. I feel that I have been treated fairly and promptly with any issue that we have had. And I must say there haven’t been many. The equipment we started with we still use daily and have had very few problems. We have bottled well over 1 million 3 and 5 gallon bottles in the last 16 years without any significant downtime in our bottling plant due to mechanical failure. When we have had a problem the parts and technical support team at Norland have always responded promptly to our needs to get us up and going. When you’re a small business you can’t afford downtime!”

Norland: What are the secrets to longevity in the bottled water business?

Craig: “Our company started with an outsourced bottler and was warehoused in a garage. We now operate out of a 10,000 square foot building we own with three full time route delivery trucks, a route sales manager and a service technician. We have six fulltime employees and four part-time employees. We have grown our business from a few hundred bottles per month to several thousand and is now one of the largest independent home and office water distributors in Idaho. I attribute our success to hard work, a focused customer service ethic, a quality product, and timely reliable service. We aren’t the biggest ‘yet’ but we are the best at what we do! Secrets to success in the bottled water business? I would have to say it takes determination, a never ending focus on controlling costs and maximizing route efficiency. Don’t be afraid to change things up. Doing things the same way just because, ‘that’s the way you have always done it,’ doesn’t always work. I think being flexible and making adjustments to your business are a constant in the bottled water business.”

Norland: What are some important lessons you’ve learned over the years?

Craig: “There are many things I have learned along the way. I had a good background in retail but no experience in the bottled water industry so I started this venture cold turkey so to speak. In the beginning, I gleaned as much information as I could from trade journals and talking to others in the industry, including Norland. They are a good resource and have a global perspective with a pretty good handle on the bottled water industry. We were fortunate to make the decision to aggressively go after the business in our market in the beginning which allowed us to get ahead of our competitors and make a name for ourselves. We have endured a tough economy but I now see signs we are moving forward accomplishing significant growth in our company once again.”

Norland: Any final thoughts?

Craig: “The bottled water business has been good to our family. The experience has been a very positive one for us. It has given us the opportunity to teach our children the value of hard work, accountability, and to be responsible. They have had the opportunity to see some of the rewards that come to those who value these attributes.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bringing pure water to Nigeria

Access to safe, clean drinking water is not guaranteed in several countries around the world, including Africa. According to a 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) report, only 51.5 percent of residents in Nigeria have access to “improved technologies” such as piped water, boreholes, tube wells, protected dug wells and tankers and/or vendors. Everyone else gets their water from ponds, streams, rainwater and unprotected wells.
Additionally, the WHO report stated 70 percent of the country’s residents had some level of sanitary risk when it came to public water.

“In addition, only 77 percent of all water supplies nationally were in compliance with the WHO guideline value for thermotolerant coliforms and only four percent of the samples tested had adequate levels of free chlorine. Together, these results raise serious concerns about the quality of water supplied by public agencies, which underscores the need to put in place national water quality standards, backed by an effective enforcement agency,” the report stated.

Such findings have led a number of entrepreneurs to turn to Norland International to start their own water-bottling operations, including Prince Paul Ikonne, from the State of Abia in Nigeria.

“We started our water business because of the need for good and quality water,” Ikonne said. “There is an increasing knowledge about the current state of the water quality in our country and how it can impact people’s health.”

Ikonne founded the Davaus Group in 2008. According to the company's website, the Group was founded, "with a vision of creating a group of companies that thrive on knowledge, research and innovation whilst pursuing sustainable development with diligence and the highest level of etiquettes in our areas of operation."

Ikonne found Norland International through a Google search and was quickly impressed with what the company could bring to the table.

“We decided to purchase from Norland because of the total package Norland offers for water equipment,” Ikonne said. “It is my belief American water equipment is sound and reliable.”

Ikonne said his company combines Norland's technology with Nigerian professionalism and focus on customer service.

"All our projects are mastered professionally and delivered in style and creativity hence the outcomes of our jobs can simply be said to be outstanding," he said. "Everything we touch provides us with the opportunity to tell compelling stories of technology, resilience, success, growth and maximum value and return on investments."

Indeed, the Davaus Group purchased all of the equipment they would need to begin operating a bottle water facility, from a 1,500 gallon per day reverse osmosis system, the DSOZ10 Ozone System with contact tank, to the SpectraPak 1200 bottling line.

The results quickly spoke for themselves.

“The use of Norland equipment has put our water ahead of any other water in our immediate environment,” Ikonne said.

In fact, Ikonne was so impressed with Norland International’s equipment, he made a pitch to have Norland International establish a permanent presence in the country.

“We suggest that Norland should open a distribution outlet here in Nigeria for easier access to spare parts when needed,” Ikonne said.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Tobin Widick 

We should not forget to remove ALL of the preform discs from the machine to apply grease on the track throughout the machine. This is listed in our weekly maintenance program for all of the automatic blow molders. This includes the BM1500, the BM3000 and the BM4500. Once all of the plates are removed the old grease needs to be wiped clean from the track and the preform holders. This is a very important step as the grease catches contaminants and small dirt/shavings that when left on the machine can cause damage over time. Once all of the old grease and debris is removed from the track we can now apply a light film of new grease to the tracks and reinstall the preform holders.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Save time and money using one of Norland’s Freedom Series Blow Molders

An interview with "JP

Over three years ago, JP purchased a Norland Freedom 4500 blow molder for his growing bottled water business. In a recent conversation with JP, he informed me that he’s manufactured over 30,000,000 bottles to date. Last month alone he produced over 750,000 bottles to fulfill his demand.  

I asked him if he was happy with his investment, and his answer was a resounding “Yes"! What was the key to his success, I asked?  "As long as you keep up on the maintenance - she runs great".  With over 30,000,000 bottles manufactured to date, we think; "she runs just fine."  

With that said, we’d like to introduce you to one of Norland's valued customers. So come along as we head to Texas for this month's Featured Interview with "JP".


JP and his father Jay started this family-operated business just over 11 years ago. Jay and JP offer three different types of water - purified, flavored and an isotonic sports drink for their private label customers. When asked to quantify the size of their business JP says "We stay pretty busy". JP purchased a Freedom4500 Series Blow Molding system from Norland during 2009.

"No matter if you have a problem or you think you have a problem, you may have a problem. Whatever your issue is you can call anybody at Norland and they are more than happy to take care of you." - JP

An interview with "JP"


Norland - Where did your bottles come from before buying the Blow Molder from Norland?

JP –“We bought bottles from a bottle manufacturer and had the bottles shipped into our location. This was an ever increasing burden to the company’s bottom line. When buying the bottles, we had very little control over the quality and cost of the bottles. Norland showed us how to cut the costs on bottles, shipping and waste. In addition, we have been able to gain control over the design and inventory of our bottles.”


Norland - What brought you to Norland initially?

JP –“Research. My father and I had been looking at blow molders for about two years prior. I’m analytical by nature. We were looking for a solution that would allow us to reduce our bottle cost. I researched all of the different types, sizes and costs of blow molding equipment and what best suited our needs. Norland was the company that offered a product that fit our individual needs, being that we are not a massive bottler but we are not a very small one either.”


Norland- What do you like most about Norland and using Norland products?

JP –“Everything, you told me to be honest and it has been a very pleasant experience.”


Norland - What were your perceptions about using a blow molder? That is, did you have any preconceived notions or anything of that nature?

JP –“What it all boils down to is, the number one thing, we were trying to improve our margins. We looked at various aspects of whether it was something we wanted to take on. I do all of the maintenance on all of our equipment so it had to be something that didn’t tie up my day and overwhelm me with issues. It appeared the benefits outweighed the negatives and it was just time to make that decision.”


Norland - Have your perceptions changed since purchasing and using the blow molder?

JP –“Yes. Operating the blow molder is not as entailed on my part as I figured it would be. It’s more of you turn it on and it runs. It’s no different than any other piece of equipment as long as it is maintained and you are able to run it. Once you get past the initial couple of weeks and some of the operator errors we encountered, it’s a very simple piece of equipment to operate. It doesn’t take any more of my time than any other piece of equipment. It’s no different than a filler or a capper or labeler. “


Norland - How has Norland impacted your business?

JP –“Norland has made it easier to do business.”


Norland -What’s the biggest benefit of working with Norland’s Freedom 4500 Blow Molder?

JP –“Number one, the quality of bottle and ease of operation. Those are the two biggest items off the top of my head. If you’re in my business, that is all you are wanting. I call it idiot proof and really it is. Once you get it set up and once you get it dialed in, it’s pretty much just forget about it. It’s going to run, you may have a preform hang-up or something, but that would be on any machine and probably

tenfold. It is just very, very easy to operate. It is user friendly.”


Norland- Has the equipment saved you money?

JP –“Yes.”


Norland -How much do you calculate you have saved with the blow molder?

JP –“We are probably saving around 2 cents per bottle.”


Norland -And how many bottles are you producing per day?

JP –“We average about 32,000 bottles per day. The savings are real, that’s why we bought it.”


Norland - Why did you choose Norland as your supplier?

JP –“Reputation, sales staff, quality of equipment, size of equipment and the functionality of the equipment.”


Norland - Would you recommend Norland services or products to others?

JP –“Yes, everyone I talk to.”


Norland - Is there anything else you’d like to add?

JP –“Yes there is one thing I’d like to add and that is the service past the sale, beyond the sale however you want to say it. Whether it’s from Engineering, Technicians, Sales, or the Staff at Norland there is no one that can touch Norlands personal touch. I do business with a lot of different people and there’s not enough being stated about that fact. No matter if you have a problem or you think you have a problem, you may have a problem. Whatever your issue is you can call anybody at Norland and they are more than happy to take care of you. If you have an issue with a part or whatever the need is, you’re going to have it the next day.

The reason I can say this is because we were running the day after Thanksgiving and I had an issue come up. I called up a service tech at 4:00am in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving on a Friday. I talked to the guy for three hours, he fixed my problem. The day after Thanksgiving at four o’clock in the morning. Now I want you to think about that for a minute…… you with me?

That speaks volumes about the lengths that Norland’s people will go to in order to take care of their customers. Somebody always picks up the phone and they handle my problems and you cannot put a price on that kind of service.”

Norland - Thank you JP for talking with us.