Northern Chill CEO Curt Kufner had no interest in using his company’s slogan — “America’s Water” — as a sales gimmick. As the son of a Marine who served in Vietnam, Kufner instead wanted to use the slogan to ensure the brand would place patriotism and community involvement on par with profitability. And through Northern Chill’s Thank You program, Kufner and company have made good on that mission.
Over the past six months, while most of America remained locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wisconsin-based company donated more than 50,000 bottles to first responders and essential workers throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota and even New Jersey.
“Without the individuals who give their time, and often with little appreciation, America would be in trouble,” says Kufner. “That is 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 truck drivers.”
The program’s success has inspired Northern Chill to expand its “Thank You” initiative nationwide over the next year. As a growing brand in its relaunching stage and juggling several new brand growth tasks, the blueprint for this initiative wasn’t completely thought out as the Thank You program was in its infancy and developmental stage.
“It wasn’t really all that well thought out,” Kufner admits. “It was something we wanted to do. It was genuine.”
But as the impact of novel coronavirus stretched from weeks to months, the sacrifice by America’s frontline workers became more magnified. Downtime discussions among staffers forged an altruistic spontaneity in which Northern Chill employees began visiting local hospitals, fire departments, farms, and other essential workstations with plenty of product in hand.
“If you’re truly donating, you don’t really sit around and think about how you’re going to get mileage out of [giving back],” Kufner says. “We just started doing it, and it just blew up.”
Northern Chill’s product is sourced from a glacier created aquifer producing naturally alkaline mineral spring water in Polar, WI. Alkaline’s reported benefits include increased hydration, disease prevention and possibly slowing down bone loss. The water contains several nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and electrolytes.
And for a manufacturing and investment veteran such as Kufner, who took over the company after its original owners were ready to sell, Northern Chill’s unique “satiny smooth taste” was the water’s selling point.
“I’ve gone from somebody who used to drink water out of a green garden hose to a water snob,” Kufner says. “Never in a million years would I have thought I’d be in this position.”
Northern Chill’s commitment to community has generated plenty of social media accolades from first responders such as the Elk River Minnesota Army National Guard and Marshfield Police Dept. to name just a couple who’ve been the recipients of the Thank You program.
“All we have to do is get it into people’s hands and once they drink it, they say, ‘Wow, that’s, uh, that’s some really good water,’” Kufner says.
After two years of ownership and one pandemic later, Kufner has larger plans in store for saluting America’s heroes. As plans are already in the works for a host of fundraisers for the military & veterans, first responders, truckers, and farmers for 2021, Northern Chill will continue to earn its moniker of America’s Water.
“We’re a growing and expanding brand, so yeah, this is pretty cool,” Kufner says.