Eaux Vives Water Inc.
Eaux Vives Water Inc., known better as the company’s brand, ESKA, has been in business since 2006. The source of the company’s product, however, dates back thousands of years. The brand name, ESKA, is a reference to eskers, the underground rivers left behind by glaciers. The business sources high quality, naturally filtered water from eskers in Quebec, a unique resource that has quenched the thirsts of local residents and now fans of the brand from across the country.
Jim Delsnyder, president and CEO of ESKA, has worked for the private company for six years and is extremely proud of the brand, the source and the team behind it. “The source is near Amos, Quebec, which is about six hours north of Montreal,” Delsnyder recounts. “The esker is where the town gets their municipal water, which is amazing. People would taste the local water and say, 'This water is so good, someone should bottle it.’ In fact, that is exactly what happened. Some local entrepreneurs started bottling the water and soon afterward a large manufacturer invested $150 million in a state-of-the-art facility.”
Worldwide, only a handful of brands offer bottled esker water. These rare formations must be tightly managed in order to preserve resources. “Eskers are rare and wonderfully pure sources of water and we manage our source with great care,” Delsnyder explains. “The source is so pure, that the only filtration that we require is a macro filtration for sediment. The parts per million of our water prevents any bacteria from forming, whereas other spring waters need as many as five filtrations followed by chemical treatment to treat their water.”
ESKA bottles everything directly at the source and has a fully integrated bottling facility. The business utilizes a third-party trucking partner, which streamlines business and allows Delsnyder and his team to focus on quality and marketing.
The size and scale of the country has its challenges for a bottling business with one location. However, Delsnyder and his team have managed to develop a solid customer base in the company’s home market of Quebec, where ESKA is the No. 1 brand, while strategically expanding into other major markets. According to Delsnyder, logistically speaking, developing the business in Quebec and Ontario is sustainable for the business. “Shipping to markets outside of Ontario and Quebec, however, becomes more financially challenging,” Delsnyder adds.
The company’s business is concentrated in Quebec, where ESKA began its’ sales. The line has since established a strong brand identity, with strong presence in grocery, convenience and food service outlets. “We have maintained a strong focus in Quebec, but we are rapidly expanding into Ontario,” says Delsnyder.
Delsnyder and his team focus on quality and value. “We are fairly priced and offer a good value, but our products are not the lowest priced available,” he explains. “From a quality standpoint, we are the best. I would put our water up against any water in the world. ESKA is not without competition, but ESKA consumers are very loyal to their brand.”
Delsnyder explains that there are always challenges in this industry,” Delsnyder notes. “The competition doesn’t go away. They get stronger and we need to keep up. The biggest thing for us is to maintain price integrity and image without getting sucked into the abyss of value-priced waters. We want our brand to grow but we also want to keep our identity.”
Building brand identity is Delsnyder’s favorite part about his work with ESKA. Coming out of a corporate atmosphere, where he previously worked for Nestle Waters, and moving to the smaller operation allows him make a larger impact, and to once again enjoy building a brand.
Looking ahead, Delsnyder has plans to continue the trend of steady growth. ESKA recently purchased new equipment that will help the business build the capacity to grow and expand into Ontario. Over the next three years, the goal is to outgrow the local market. Quebec’s strong support of local businesses has been enormously beneficial to ESKA’s growth. “This year our corporate goals are to outpace the market from a share standpoint in Quebec and to successfully enter the Ontario marketplace,” Delsnyder clarifies.
Regardless of how much the company grows in the coming years, ESKA continues to prioritize quality products and strong relationships. “We have a great team here and we want to create a great working atmosphere. Our employees care about the business and people enjoy their job. We all share a strong sense of pride in the brand and the business.” Together, the team continues to support a unique, high quality bottled water brand as Eaux Vives Water Inc. breaks into the high-potential Ontario market.