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Pandemic creates oasis for mobile purified water drive

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2022 | 12:10 AMSonae Robinson/Gleaner Intern
A customer has her bottles refilled with purefied water from a Puri-Fresh delivery van.
A customer has her bottles refilled with purefied water from a Puri-Fresh delivery van.
Young entrepreneur Alex Robinson has sought to find a solution to complaints by Portmore customers of poor water quality.
Young entrepreneur Alex Robinson has sought to find a solution to complaints by Portmore customers of poor water quality.
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Young entrepreneur Alex Robinson has seized on water-quality concerns to forge a mobile experiment, tapping a delivery boon that many businesses capitalised on during the coronavirus outbreak

The 30-year-old kick-started his mobile purified drinking water business approximately a year and a half ago in reaction to the poor quality of tap water in Portmore, St Catherine.

“A lot of persons over the years complained that for some persons it gives them tummy aches, sometimes you see some small sediments in the water and it’s just not something that you’d readily drink,” he said during a Gleaner interview.

He was also spurred to go mobile after reviewing the high demand for purified drinking water and the inconvenience suffered by customers forced to travel to water shops.

Robinson soon undertook some research and installed a filtration system in his minibus, branding his business Puri-Fresh.

“I realised that there are some persons that will have three, four, five gallon bottles, and they have to charter a taxi to bring them to and from their house,” said Robinson.

His fledgling business, with three employees and one franchisee, now operates in Portmore, downtown Kingston, and sections of Hope Road, St Andrew.

Robinson also said that emerging concerns about health and safety in the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of persons fear going out to these stores, mixing with strangers and not knowing who has the virus and who doesn’t. So, them having this service come to them, it eliminates that possibility of them coming into contact with the virus and also it eliminates the amount of time they would have to go to and from [home],” he said.

Robinson said he has already experienced challenges to staffing and service standards – factors he believes are critical for business growth and customer satisfaction.

Recruiting drivers and salespersons with the gift of gab and who foster a good rapport with customers hasn’t been an easy task.

“So it’s not just about driving around. If persons don’t like the deportment of the individual selling the water, they don’t want the water,” he said.

The businessman is also eyeing creative solutions to cushion the impact of high fuel costs on his mobile service.

That includes research on a having buses run on cooking oil instead of diesel, a capacity he said is viable for older diesel vehicles.

Robinson divulged that he has ambitions of expanding his operations by rolling out a fleet as well as purchasing more storage capacity.

“In addition to that, I intend to start selling flavoured water. I already have the resources and the know-how for that. I’m just trying to find a location where the operation can take place and we can distribute from there,” he said.

Robinson has advice for other entrepreneurs who are just getting their toes wet.

“Have a service that solves problems. Have a service that provides solutions and convenience. And follow your passion,” he said.

“When you’re doing something that you have a passion for, it’s no longer work.”

sonae.rose@gleanerjm.com