Two Massachusetts-based water companies have teamed up with the nation’s largest bottled water company, Nestlé Waters North America and its Poland Spring Direct™ Division to pilot its new concept, the Aqua Express® 25 5-gallon high-tech, automated vending machine.
With 50 years combined experience in the water business, Mike Verrochi, owner of Blue Hills Spring Water based in Norwell, Mass. and Ed Rose III and his father Ed Rose Jr., owners of Rocky Mountain Spring Water, New England’s largest water vending company, have designed and built a patent pending, innovative vending machine. The new Aqua Express 25, also referred to as the AE25, exchanges a returned empty five-gallon water bottle for a deposit credit, and then allows the customer to purchase a pre-filled 5-gallon bottle of water. The machines are being placed outside major national retailers, convenience stores/gas stations, big-box retailers, and supermarkets.
The Aqua Express® 25 vending machines, which are cashless, are fully insulated and heated and will be open year round 24/7 for optimal customer convenience to purchase bottled water in pre-filled five-gallon bottles.
Aqua Express has signed a strategic partnership for a pilot, beginning in August 2012, with Nestlé Waters North America, based in Stamford, Conn., to distribute, operate and provide 5-gallon bottles of Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water.
“With this project, we were able to bring creativity to our long experience in the water business. We believe the Aqua Express 25 will be a next generation of water distribution system for cooler-sized bottles used in homes and offices,” said Mike Verrochi in a prepared statement.
Poland Spring Direct™ offers healthy hydration beverage options delivered directly to homes and offices and is always looking for new and innovative ways to provide beverage solutions to its customers. The Aqua Express 25 gives its customers a convenient way to purchase 5-gallon bottles of Poland Spring® 100% Natural Spring Water.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Nestlé Waters and we are looking forward to positive results from this program,” said Pat Anderson, vice president of sales for the 5-gallon retail direct business.
The Poland Spring brand is leveraging its “Born Better®” advertising campaign in the design of the graphics for the exterior of the vending machines. The graphics show a picturesque view of one of the spring water sources and landscape from which Poland Spring® Natural Spring Water is “born” in Maine.
“When Mike, my dad and I decided to take on this project, it was a natural fit for us. Mike and I have been friends for 40 years and we decided after Mike sold his company (Monadnock Spring Water), we would offer an alternative way to deliver a large format, 5-gallon bottle of water to the customer. We have been vending water for 20 years through our kiosk system, where people bring their own bottles and fill them with our natural spring water. Mike ran a very successful bottling operation for 26 years and was past chairman of the International Bottle Water Association (IBWA). We think our new AE25 system gives a dynamic scalable business model that customers will have fun using”, said Ed Rose III, a partner in Aqua Express.
It took Aqua Express more than one year of research and development to design and fabricate a concept prototype, followed by a global search for a reliable, large contract manufacturer to handle production of the machine. They succeeded in hiring one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers that specializes in automated kiosks, based in Creedmoor, N.C. This is the same company that builds the Red Box DVD kiosk. After six months of further engineering, a final machine was accepted and the initial pilot program with Nestlé Waters North America has begun on August 1. “The machines will feature Poland Spring® 100% Natural Spring Water,” continued Rose.