The DrinkMore Story

The DrinkMore Water story begins back in 1981. I grew up in the Washington, DC area and, like most people during that time, never really thought twice about the quality of water that I was drinking. As a family, we drank straight tap water—and we drank a lot of it. My first job out of college was working as an engineer for Schlumberger on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. My wife and I lived in southern Louisiana, where the tap water was absolutely undrinkable, so I was always surprised when I went offshore at how good the water tasted out there. It didn’t make much sense that they would ship potable water out hundreds of miles into the Gulf of Mexico when there was water everywhere you looked—and, as it turned out, they didn’t. They purified the water right there on every rig. So, I set out to learn as much as I could about the type of equipment that could make such great tasting water. That was the very beginning.

Many years later, after my wife and I had started a family of our own, we moved back to the Maryland suburbs and quickly came to the conclusion that the local tap water here wasn’t much better than it was in Louisiana. In addition to the ever-present chlorine taste, we lived in a neighborhood where the tap water would run brown several times a year. Turns out, that was because when the local authorities back-flushed the water mains, a huge amount of fine brown sediment (dirt) in the pipes would get stirred up and would ultimately find its way to our faucets. We would get newsletters from the local municipality alerting us to the imminent start of the back-flushing process. They always tried to comfort everyone by saying that the water may be a little brown, and you may not want to do your laundry in it, but it was perfectly safe to drink! For me, that was a little hard to believe.

So, I set out to learn as much as could about water and water purification. I contacted the local authorities to find out why the water tasted (and frequently looked) so awful. They were quick to point out that the tap water met the minimum federal health and safety standards (at least most of the time). I did more research and discovered that the federal standards for tap water, which come from the EPA, allowed for all sorts of impurities to be present in the water. Things like sodium, chlorine, aluminum, arsenic, other metals, pesticides and all sorts of other chemicals were permitted—as long as they didn’t exceed a certain limit. Many of these impurities have long-term detrimental health effects, and I quickly decided that these weren’t the things that I wanted my wife or kids consuming on a regular basis.

We started with trying a variety of spring and mineral waters, but it was clear that every one of these waters had a distinct taste and often contained lots of impurities themselves. Pure water wasn’t supposed to have a discernible taste, so I called the companies and asked for the laboratory analyses of their products. When I could actually get my hands on one of their analyses, I found that there were plenty of other things in the water besides pure H2O. I had always thought that spring waters were fairly pure (after all, they’re always advertised as “pure and natural!”), but I was amazed that some brands actually had more impurities than DC tap water! There weren’t any brands that even came close to being pure H2O. And as far as “natural” goes, the Potomac River is natural, but I doubt you’d want to go grab a glass of that! And there were all sorts of other questionable elements present in many of the spring waters—like sodium and nitrates—that definitely didn’t fall into the “good for you” category.

I was also put off by that strange plastic smell whenever I bought gallons of water at the grocery store that were packaged in the milk-jug style of container. Something from those bottles had to be getting into the water. Finally, I decided to look into putting a water treatment system into my home.

Creating Our Own Purification System

Being a mechanical engineer from Duke, I figured that it shouldn’t be too hard to build my own purification system. But, it turned out that the available home systems were very high maintenance and didn’t do that great of a job taking out all of the impurities I was trying to eliminate. They also tended to harbor bacteria, so I was a little leery of doing that. As I talked to friends and neighbors about water, it was obvious that a lot of people shared my concerns about the tap water and the various alternatives to it. Perhaps there was a better way…

…and so, the concept of DrinkMore Water was born.

I spent the better part of a year finding out everything I possibly could about water purification. My brother Jack—a chemical engineer from M.I.T.—worked with me on water chemistry issues and together we designed a powerful, 12-stage purification system that would remove virtually every impurity, leaving behind nothing but pure H2O.

We opened our first “water store” in Rockville, MD in 1993 and another in Bethesda in 1994. Then, we built a 30,000-square foot bottling facility in Gaithersburg, MD to serve the entire DMV area. In May 2006, we bought a bigger (almost 40,000 square feet), standalone facility in Gaithersburg—and it is absolutely beautiful. We installed a brand-new, state-of-the-art purification facility and moved over all of our bottling equipment, including our world-famous bottling robot known as “Flanders” (see the picture). Our sister company, DrinkMore Custom Water, added a brand-new bottling line of their own to do everything from 12oz bottles up to 1.5 liter bottles.

That’s Flanders there in the picture doing what he does best—racking our bottles. The two humanoids watching are me (Bob Perini) and Bobby Wilkerson—a former NBA player who also was the point guard for the last undefeated college basketball team (Indiana in 1976), coached by Bobby Knight.

Well, we’ve now been at it for over 25 years. Along the way, we’ve won numerous awards for small business excellence (Mass Mutual Blue Chip Award), fast growth (twice members of the Inc. 500), corporate philanthropy (three-time winner of the Washington Business Journal Corporate Philanthropy Award), and business ethics (runner-up for the National Capital Area Business Ethics Award), as well as many others. And, at last count, we have over 15,000 very loyal business and home delivery customers throughout the region.

Perhaps the most satisfying part of the entire process occurs when I get calls from customers who go out of their way to tell me how much they love the taste of our water, how they can’t drink anything else, and how great our customer service is. As a business owner, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Bob Perini