Being in the bottled water business probably isn't every (or any) little boy's dream... yet here I am. Why? Read on!
Hello there! My name is John Snippe, and my story goes back way too far to tell it all here: it dates back to when I was an infant with a compromised digestive system. Yeah, I know… hard to believe, looking at me now. My Doctor would suggest I should try to get that condition back!
Jump ahead a few decades. 1984. We’re living in Calgary, that condition is basically all gone (except for chlorine intolerance), our first baby is a year old, and we’ve decided to leave that lovely city. But go where?
We wanted to bushwhack on Vancouver Island. But a baby. Grandparents and brothers / sisters all live here in Ontario. The discussion was long and exhausting, and my big argument was how polluted it was (and still is) in Niagara. Did we really want to raise our beautiful daughter a few minutes from Love Canal, just downwind of the steel plants, in the middle of fruit-spray hell? No, we didn't. But grandparents. Brothers and sisters. It turned out that blood was stronger than pollution. We moved to Grimsby (Wilma’s hometown).
Move along another decade. I’m ready to strike out on my own. What could I do? What did the world want or need that I could supply?
We were already doing the clean water / clean food thing at home, and a guy locally was working hard on growing his bottled water business by franchising. We checked it out and liked what we saw, so we asked a lot of questions. We didn't like all the answers… but like enough of them to know we could probably do this ourselves.
So we started. Begged, borrowed and mortgaged enough to get going, and “Purely Water Niagara” was born in the spring of ’94. My vision was of the old-fashioned milk man (yeah… I am old enough to have experienced that as a kid in Montreal) taking care of his customers’ needs. I even got the same kind of ledger book they used to use when I started. Gave that up really quickly, I don’t mind telling you. But only that. I never forgot about the service those guys gave. Personal. Every day. Fresh product. Friendly. We still operate with the same ideas.
But more importantly, I never forgot why I got into the water business in the first place.
Does anyone remember the old computer-programmer saying “Garbage In - Garbage Out”? GIGO? Well, if it’s true for computers, it’s certainly true for humans.
It all seemed so logical to me at the time: people are made of what they take in. If you take in junk, you eventually become junk. It’s inevitable. The human body is remarkably resilient and it can take a lot of abuse, but at some point it has to break. And long before that it gets cranky, and stops working at optimal levels. Everybody knows that, right?
And everybody knows that chlorine is in the water because it is a poison, right? Don’t get me wrong: chlorine in tap water is great. Keeps the pipes biologically inert and all that. But I don’t want to be drinking it. It doesn’t need to keep my innards quite that ‘clean.’ Not to mention all the poisons that are in our tap water via pollution. We all know that, right?
As it turned out, not everyone knew. Or, more surprisingly, cared. Still the case, actually. Building the business was a hard grind.
Hard or not, though, I never let go of my understanding that it really just makes sense: clean water has got to be better for you than water that is less clean. Less poison has got to be better for you than more poison, even if the government tells you that the levels of these poisons are ‘at or below acceptable levels.’ What does that even mean, and acceptable to whom, exactly? Not me!
So here we are today. We’re a long way from where we started in 1994: from a total of 100 bottles, from a room in the basement, from the back of our extended ‘bus’ passenger van for deliveries, from me doing everything. A very long way. But not so far away that the problem has been solved. Choosing the cleanest water possible is still the smart choice, one that still just plain makes sense.
I’m glad and grateful that so many folks agree. It’s been a wonderful ride so far!
If you haven’t read Wilma’s powerful back-story yet… be sure you do. It’s better than mine!