Curt Kufner, CEO of rthern Chill, was not interested in using his company's slogan – "America's Water" – as a selling point. As the son of a Marine who served in Vietnam, Kufner wanted to use the slogan instead to ensure the brand equates patriotism and community service with profitability. And through rthern Chill's thank you program, Kufner and Company have accomplished this mission.
While most of America has remained on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the past six months, the Wisconsin-based company donated more than 50,000 bottles to first responders and key workers across Wisconsin and Minnesota, and even New Jersey.
"Without the people who give their time and often with little appreciation, America would be in trouble," says Kufner. "That's why we take time out of our daily lives to give water and a thank you to the men and women who are first responders, military and veterans, farmers and truckers."
The success of the program has inspired rthern Chill to expand its "Thank You" initiative nationwide over the next year. As a growing brand in the relaunch phase and coping with several new tasks of brand growth, the draft for this initiative was not fully thought out as the thank you program was still in its infancy and in the development phase.
"It wasn't really well thought out," admits Kufner. “We wanted to do that. It was real. "
But as the effects of the novel coronavirus stretched from weeks to months, the sacrifice of American frontline workers grew. The downtime discussions among employees sparked an altruistic spontaneity in which rthern Chill employees began visiting local hospitals, fire departments, farms, and other critical workplaces with lots of product in hand.
"When you really donate, you're not really sitting around thinking about how you earn (return) miles," says Kufner. "We just started it and it just exploded."
rthern Chill's product comes from a glacier-created aquifer that naturally produces alkaline mineral spring water in Polar, WI. Reported benefits of Alkaline include increasing hydration levels, preventing disease, and potentially slowing bone loss. The water contains several nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and electrolytes.
And for a manufacturing and investment veteran like Kufner, who took over the company after its original owners were ready to sell, rthern Chill's unique "silky smooth taste" was the water's selling point.
"I went from someone who used to drink water from a green garden hose to a water snob," says Kufner. "Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be in this position."
rthern Chill's commitment to the community has helped first responders such as the Elk River Minnesota Army National Guard and Marshfield Police Dept. Generated numerous awards on social media, just to name a few, who received the thank you program.
"All we have to do is get people into their hands and as soon as they drink it they say, 'Wow, this is really good water," says Kufner.
After two years of ownership and a pandemic later, Kufner has bigger plans to greet America's heroes. With plans in place for a variety of fundraisers for the military and veterans, first responders, truckers and farmers for 2021, rthern Chill will continue to be nicknamed America's Water.
"We're a growing and expanding brand, so that's pretty cool," says Kufner.
Courtesy rthern Chill