Clear Mountain Spring Water

City: Little Rock
Category: Category III (76-300 Employees)
Year: 2001

In 1988, with one employee and a delivery truck, Breck Speed of Little Rock began distributing Tawanee, a brand of water bottled in northwest Arkansas. The company grossed $92,000 that year.

Three years later, Speed and four other investors built their own bottling plant and began distributing Clear Mountain Natural Spring Water.

Clear Mountain now employs 115, and revenue from its water and coffee brands and cooler rentals topped $9 million last year, said Speed, the company's chairman and CEO.

Clear Mountain operates a fleet of 21 delivery trucks and 18-wheelers that distribute water and coffee to homes, businesses and grocery stores. Delivery drivers use hand-held computers to track the customers' water usage and delivery needs.

"People expect their service to be personalized," he said.

Clear Mountain serves more than 22,000 customers: 10,000 in central Arkansas; 3,000 each in Greenville, Miss., and Memphis; and 6,000 in Kansas City, Mo.

The water, which is drawn from springs in Montgomery County, "comes out good-tasting and bacteria free," Speed said, and is sent through a purification process to keep it that way. It is then bottled in bottles and jugs that also have been through a special sanitation process. The three- and five-gallon jugs can be used five to six times and are cleaned after each use, he said.

The company has earned several awards, including The Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Nation's Business magazine and the Excellence in Manufacturing award presented by the International Bottled Water Association, which Clear Mountain has won each year since 1996.

It also was named small business of the year in 1994 by the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and was a finalist for an Arkansas Business of the Year award in 1990.

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