NORWELL, MA -- Two longtime Massachusetts-based water firms have teamed up with the nation's largest bottled water company to pilot Aqua Express 25, a five-gallon, high-tech vending machine. The new bulk-water vender was designed by Mike Verrochi, owner of Blue Hills Spring Water (Norwell, MA), and Ed Rose III and his father Ed Rose Jr. The Roses own Rocky Mountain Spring Water (Quincy, MA), New England's largest water vending company.
The Aqua Express 25 (AE25) exchanges an empty return for a deposit credit and allows a customer to purchase a prefilled five-gallon water bottle. Cashless capable and fully insulated, Aqua Express 25s are designed to operate 24/7 year-round.
The water operators are hoping to place machines outside major retail and supermarket sites, as well as at convenience stores and gas stations. Nestlé Waters North America (Stamford, CT) and its Poland Spring Direct Division will help test the water vending machines, and the parties have reportedly agreed to begin a pilot in August. Aqua Express will distribute, operate and provide five-gallon bottles of Poland Spring natural spring water during the trial.
Poland Spring's "born better" ad graphics will adorn the exteriors of Aqua Express 25s. The visuals show a picturesque view of one of the spring water sources and landscape from which Poland Spring is born in Maine.
The Aqua Express 25 principals said it took more than a year of research and development to design and fabricate a prototype of their machine. It will be produced at the Creedmoor, NC, facility of Flextronics, the contract manufacturer that builds Redbox DVD rental machines, among other automated systems.
"With this project, we were able to bring creativity to our long experience in the water business, said Blue Hills' Verrochi, who is a past-chairman of the International Bottle Water Association. "We believe the Aqua Express 25 will be a next generation of water distribution system for cooler-sized bottles used in homes and offices."