AquaTerra Corporation: What’s New around the Water Cooler for Canada’s Largest Supplier

AquaTerra Corporation (AquaTerra) is celebrating 130 years as Canada’s oldest and largest nationwide direct-delivery drinking water company. The national bottler is fittingly bringing together water and the Earth with a dedication to sustainability and commitment to the cleanest, freshest sources. Partnering with some of the largest well-known brands in the U.S. and Canada, AquaTerra delivers cost-effective solutions to its customers.

“We are Canadians nourishing Canadians,” shares Tom Schmitt, president and CEO of AquaTerra. “For us, it’s all about what people put into their bodies. This is why we’re committed to the highest-quality product.” AquaTerra has upheld this philosophy since its origin.

Founded in 1882 by Robert White of the McCall family, AquaTerra was originally the Laurentian Water Company and based in Montreal. Over the course of a century the company expanded through a series of acquisitions and ventures into new markets, becoming what is now the largest national presence in the industry. Even though AquaTerra has grown significantly over the past 130 years, several members of the McCall family still work for the company.

AquaTerra is a Canadian-owned and -operated firm that offers a variety of respected brands, including Canadian Springs in Ontario, British Columbia and the Maritimes; Labrador in Quebec; and Discovery Springs in Newfoundland. The company is the leading provider of large format 18L and 11L refillable bottles to homes, offices and major grocery retailers alike.

AquaTerra covers a lot of ground, with eight bottling plants throughout Canada and three shared with its partners. The company employs about 550 individuals, many of whom are involved in the distribution aspect of the business. “We are the only company that distributes nationally, from Vancouver to Newfoundland and almost everywhere in between,” explains Schmitt. “We are the leader in what we do, because we truly operate across the board.”

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Not only does AquaTerra pride itself in its nationwide distribution capabilities, but also in its dedication to sustainability. The company consciously works to deliver environmentally friendly products and cost-effective solutions.

“We do what we do responsibly,” shares Schmitt. “That sets us apart from the competition.” By operating as a one-stop shop, AquaTerra also reduces costs for its valued customers. “As a direct-delivery bottler, we’ve cut down a process that normally takes about five people down to one,” explains Schmitt. “This is not only more convenient, but also more sustainable. There are fewer trucks, using less fuel; it’s a win-win for everyone.” The company also has a handful of hybrid delivery trucks, which can use up to 40 percent less fuel.

AquaTerra’s bottles don’t end up in landfills, either. Each of the company’s refillable bottles are recycled after being refilled up to 55 times, carrying over 1,000L of water in a lifetime. The company makes this possible by issuing a $10 refundable deposit on each bottle, which results in a world-class return rate of 99.8 percent. Once a bottle is retired, it is ground up and recycled for use in the manufacturing of a variety of plastic products. This closed-loop bottling system is a perfect example of extended producer responsibility (EPR), a sweeping effort globally to get manufacturers, not consumers, to manage the packaging of consumer products.

By self-performing every step of the process, from collection to manufacturing and distribution, AquaTerra is able to ensure quality control. The company occasionally outsources distribution and contracts truck drivers; however, AquaTerra mainly works with key partners when required to do so.

Powerful Partnerships

“Another advantage we have lies in our partners and portfolio,” shares Schmitt. “At AquaTerra you can get everything from clean, fresh Canadian spring water to Starbucks and Keurig products for the office. We make it possible for businesses to focus on their business while we cost-effectively replenish their break rooms.”

With an increased demand for healthier, organic options, AquaTerra has worked to build its selection of quality coffee and tea products, as well as water filtration systems. AquaTerra’s brand, Canadian Springs, has partnered with some of the largest beverage providers in the industry. The company lists Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Ethical Bean Coffee Club Coffee, Keurig, Tassimo and Tetley Tea as some of its notable partners.

The company offers a full line of gourmet, single-serving K-Cup Keurig products, including hot chocolate, mochas, lattes, herbal teas and other premium drinks. AquaTerra supplies everything from single-cup to whole-bean products, servicing offices requesting large volumes as well as homes and families in need of a smaller stock. With a range of the latest and most trusted brewing and grinding equipment and some of the best gourmet products, the result is an exceptional beverage, every time.

Both AquaTerra’s service and products are award-winning. In 2012, the company was named in an annual competition as one of the Top 50 Best Managed Companies by Deloitte, a Canadian business accounting firm.

Looking to the years ahead, AquaTerra is challenging itself. “Our goal is to own all the break rooms across Canada,” reveals Schmitt. “It goes back to our mentality that you just do your business, and we’ll take care of nourishing and providing for your employees.” After 130 years of record-breaking, award-winning success, the company and all AquaTerra Corporation brands continue to lead in the industry through a sustainable focus and valued partnerships.