Pure spring water from the blue mountains of Jamaica
The Peak Bottling Company was founded in 1992, the brainchild of Tony Kelly, a retired brew master and senior executive in the Caribbean’s bottling industry. According to David Wong, the company’s current Managing Director, Kelly was looking for a new project to engage in, just as the bottled water trend was beginning to appear on the scene in North America.
“It started out as a project,” Wong says, “just to see what would happen.” What began merely as a hobby for Kelly, Charles Johnston, and another partner, Beverley Lopez, became a multi-million dollar company within a few short years.
Today, the Peak Bottling Company Limited distributes pure spring water to end-users’ homes, offices, institutions, and businesses, as well as to wholesalers and retailers who resell its products. Its approximately 200 employees work out of three locations: the original spring water factory in the Blue Mountains, an administrative, sales, and bottling office located at 11 Courtney Walsh Drive in Kingston, and the recently acquired Spike Industries, another Kingston-based company that produces a range of juices, box drinks, and soy products.
Kadia Wright, Peak’s Marketing Manager, explains why the firm has become one of the largest bottled water company in Jamaica, with exports to the Caribbean and the United States: “We’re one of the first spring water company in Jamaica,” she says, “so a lot of people grew up on the brand, ‘Catherine’s Peak.’ It’s brand recognition – people know the brand and once they see the logo, they know exactly what it is. We’ve been keeping that at the top of the consumer’s mind, so even when competition enters the market, we are able to keep on top because of the huge amount of brand equity that we enjoy.
Wong adds that while Jamaican tap water is not bad, per se, the way it’s transported and treated has helped people turn to bottled water as a better-tasting and healthier alternative. “The local water agency, in its bid to make ground water potable, uses a lot of chlorine and sometimes leaks in the piping system cause impurities,” he says. “With that, a lot of people prefer to go with safe, bottled water. In addition, over the years, hurricanes and weather events have rendered ground water unsafe. So a lot of people relied on the bottled water segment to help them through. Households got into the habit of using bottled water and the industry has grown tremendously.”
Peak’s purchase of Spike Industries a few years ago, was done in an attempt to add some new products to its portfolio – juice and beverage drinks made with water purified by reverse osmosis, as opposed to natural spring water. “One of the reasons we bought Spike,” says Wong, “was because of the resources it had – it was able to produce in quantity a purified water product to go along with our spring water. Spike allowed us to do that in a significant way. They were in business for over twenty years. Wong adds that a current goal of the company is to consolidate the two distribution plants – one bottling sweet beverages and the other bottling spring water – into one entity. “So, our short term goal is to try and achieve greater efficiency and economies of scale while invigorating the sales effort put into the other juice and beverage products. Over the next five years or so, we want to become a major player in the purified water market; we want to maintain our lead in the spring water market; and we want to redevelop the line of juices and beverages that we have.”
Wright is equally optimistic about Peak’s future. “We’re 25 years strong and growing,” she states emphatically. “And we intend to stay around for a very long time. And the products that we offer are among the best in the market that we serve.”
“People know it and they trust it,” says Wong. “You know where the source is. You know the pristineness of it, if that’s a word,” he adds. But whether or not the word is the real thing, there’s no doubt that Catherine’s Peak, Pure Spring water, bottled by the Peak Bottling Company Limited, is.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Peak Bottling Company Limited
WHAT: A privately owned, limited liability company engaged in the bottling and distribution of spring water and other beverages.
WHERE: Kingston, Jamaica
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