Water bottler moves into office and home delivery

March 03, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

A Clarksville-based bottled spring water company is going after a share of the expansive office and home bottled water delivery market in the Baltimore-Washington region.

"We see this market as vast," said Mark Bersbach, sales manager for the Brickhouse Farm Spring Water Co., located on a former horse farm off Sheppard Lane.

The company draws water from a huge aquifer, known as the Cockeysville Marble Aquifer, and bottles it on site.

For the past four years, the company has been focused on establishing its product in the retail market. Current carriers include Valu Food grocery stores.

Mr. Bersbach said the company has signed about 10 accounts for the delivery service so far and has hired a team of sales managers.

He and the company founder, former Howard County home builder Thomas Pignataro, believe the service can grow to a point where Brick House Farm has 10 delivery trucks serving the Baltimore market, and 10 serving the Washington and Northern Virginia area.

"We'd really like to do heavy industry and commercial accounts," said Mr. Bersbach. He said the company has been bidding on some major commercial accounts.

Brick House hopes to gain an edge over the big players in the area's bottled water office and home delivery trade by competitive pricing for the service and touting the water's taste, which recently took first-place honors in a national water tasting contest.

"We think we can offer a price advantage because our freight shipping costs will be lower since we're locally based," said Mr. Bersbach.

Freight costs account for about 10 percent to 20 percent of the price of water in containers of one gallon or larger.

A minimum delivery order of two 5-gallon bottles costs $4.95 for each bottle. The company will match a verified price from competitors, he said.

Bottled water delivery service from other companies serving the region ranges from $5 to $7 per bottle. Brick House Farm faces tough competitors, including Great Bear, Aqua Cool, Snow Valley and Deer Park. All but Deer Park sell water drawn from sources outside Maryland.

Mr. Bersbach said Brick House Farm, which bottles its spring water under the brand names Brick House Farm and Taro, is offering customers delivery of 5-gallon bottles and will also offer a range of water crocks for sale or lease for the large-size bottles. Crocks lease from about $7 a month to about $13 a month, depending on the style.

The company also is offering delivery of its smaller size bottles, which range from 12 ounces to 1 gallon.

Those must be purchased in case lots for delivery, the sales manger said.

To stir interest in its new service, the company is offering commercial accounts two free 5-gallon bottles and a free month's use of a water crock.

New home accounts get the same deal if the client signs a one-year contract, said Mr. Bersbach.

"If this takes off the way we hope it will, we hope to lease warehouse space to accommodate our shipping," said Mr. Bersbach. He said likely locations for that operation would be Jessup or Laurel because of their proximity to major truck routes.

The company also is hoping to close deals to supply other private labels with water. Mr. Bersbach is working on a deal to supply water to Chicago-based Home Juice Co. for its Mr. Pure line of bottled water.

Also Brick House Farm has been trying to land a deal to supply water to TWA for its passenger flights, Mr. Bersbach said.

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