Monday, July 11, 2011

Introducing Steve Brown-Virgina Artesian

“The decision to go with a Norland was a good decision. At first, I based my decision on the people at Norland.” reported Steve Brown when we talked with him about his bottled water business. Mr. Brown is President of Virginia Artesian, a very successful bottler of pure artesian water from a deep local protected aquifer in the great state of Virginia. Read below about how Steve started Virginia Artesian and has operated and grown his business for close to a decade.

1. Would you please tell us a little about yourself-family, friends, where you grew up, and hobbies, etc?

A: I grew up in central Virginia with a dad with endless energy and a strong work ethic. My first job was during high school in an old hardware store where I gained an early appreciation for how people used their ingenuity to fix most everything. After I graduated from high school I served 4 years in the US Air Force learning about and fixing avionic communications equipment. I used the GI bill to obtain my BS at Virginia Tech. I spent a couple of years working for Frank Perdue in Maryland and then 18 years at Philip Morris in their accounting departments. In the evenings I served as a member/leader in a number of community organizations and ran several part time businesses (CPA firm, Real Estate development). Coaching my son in little league baseball and youth basketball was my most enjoyable after work activities.

After leaving Philip Morris, I helped a friend start a chipper shedder manufacturing firm and then I got involved with starting a pharmaceutical packaging firm. It was one of the largest start ups in central Virginia area at the time. Overtime I decided to start my own business. I wanted to use my hands, my head, and be physically active. I really picked the right business. I am truly tired at the end of each day.
2. How many years have you been in the water bottling business and how did you decide to get into this business?

A: We are in our ninth year of business. I wanted to be in a business where I did not have to compete with China, a growth market, and I love manufacturing. Bottled water seemed to fit most those requirements.
3. How did you find out about Norland International and how did you decide to go with Norland’s equipment?

A: My years of experience helped me realize that putting a manufacturing process together is like building a house. If something is wrong or not done correctly it is always someone else’s fault: the plumber blames the carpenter, the carpenter blames the bricklayer, the bricklayer blames the foundation guy, and I think you understand. If you can get all the parts from one supplier, you save a lot of headache and hassle. So, I went to several trade shows over a year and that is where I met the guys at Norland.
The decision to go with a Norland was a good decision. At first, I based my decision on the people at Norland. They were by far the best of all equipment suppliers and the entire team is extremely knowledgeable. Then I checked into their past installation history and researched the value for the money.
4. You are using a Norland SpectraPak 5000 in your operations. What bottle sizes and volumes are produced?

A: We bottle a variety of sizes: 12oz, 16oz, 20oz, 24oz, liter and we have done 1.5 liter. Last year our volume exceeded 2 million bottles!
5. How has the “after the sale” service that Norland has provided you with been? Do you get answers to your questions in a timely fashion?

A: Norland has a very knowledgeable staff. Over the years I have gotten to know many of the people at Norland. I have built relationships with the engineers and mechanics. Their wisdom on the overall equipment and process has been a great resource. I have been able to call on them over the years (including Sundays and evenings) to help me better understand the equipment and to maintain the equipment over time. It is almost like I have a family at Norland who is there to support me. Thank you Norland!

A special thanks to Steve Brown of Virginia Artesian for taking the time to share his story with the Norland International audience.