Mountain Pure LLC

There’s more to Mountain Pure LLC’s business than just putting water into bottles. The Little Rock, Ark.-based com­pany is able to be successful in a highly competitive business through a fully integrated operation that includes manufacturing and packaging capabilities.

Mountain Pure produces its own brands of water, juice and tea as well as private-label brands and special packaging, President and Owner John Stacks says. Brands include You-Go and Yucatan fruit drinks.

Private-label clients include Walmart, Dollar Gen­eral and a number of colleges and organizations in 14 states in the South. Mountain Pure has the ability to make specially shaped bottles to suit individual clients’ needs. Notable recent accounts include a line for the University of Texas in a bottle shaped to re­semble the campus’ famous clock tower, he adds.

The company also is beginning to do co-packing for the pharmaceutical industry, producing distilled water and other products. “We have a very talented group of people and worked to improve our quality to where we can do this kind of work,” Stacks says.

Plans for the near future include developing more nutritional drinks including the Real Pro brand sports drink the company recently acquired. “We’re excited to develop beverages that promote health and wellness,” he adds.

Strategic Locations

The company operates three facilities including one in Palestine, Texas, that opened last year. The facility, located be­tween Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston, gives Mountain Pure higher line production speeds for the various sizes of plastic bottles it produces there, as well as a presence near major markets.

“We’re trying to get plants in larger areas closer to the customers we serve,” Stacks says, adding the new plant helps the company save money on shipping and logistics costs because of its proximity to two large cities.

All of the company’s plants are strategically located near major markets, acc­ording to the company. The main fac­ility in Little Rock serves cities including Memphis, Tenn.; St. Louis; and Kansas City, Mo.; while a facility in Magee, Miss., is accessible to the New Orleans market, among others, Stacks adds. The plants have large capacities and can quickly produce large volumes in the events of emergencies when bottled water is in great demand, he says.

High Standards

Mountain Pure’s production facilities ad­here to strict quality control and food safety standards, Stacks says. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) regularly audits the company. “We have a very rigid and detailed quality program that ensures proper sanitation, recall procedures and quality control measures,” Stacks adds.

Adherence to the GFSI program has allowed Mountain Pure to take on other, different kinds of work such as distilled water, Stacks says.

The company’s main water source is a spring within the Ouachita Mountains near Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. The Mississippi facility uses water from the McNair Springs, a park located near the plant.

Fresh spring water processed in the company’s plants goes through microfiltration, ozonation and ultraviolet light treatment processes.

“Our spring water flows naturally and produces a crystal clear, non-carbonated and sodium-free water with the taste customers expect and want,” the company says.

The company’s products are also reg­u­larly laboratory tested as well as ins­p­ected on the production line. Mountain Pure water contains less than 5 milli­grams of sodium per eight-fluid-ounce ser­ving and meets all state and federal regulations.

“Our product, when it goes into the bottle, has a zero bacteria count, which gives it a very long shelf life,” Stacks says. All fruit juice drinks and teas produced by the company are pasteurized.

Steady Expansion

Wholesale grocery distributor Affiliated Foods Southwest Inc. form­ed Mountain Pure LLC in 1989. Stacks and his family became full owners in 2002; his son Cort manages daily operations, while another son, Ryan, an attorney, assists with legal matters.

The Mississippi facility was purc­h­ased in 2004 along with the rights to the Real Pure water brand, established al­most 100 years ago. Soon after acquiring the facility, the company installed blow-molding machines in the Mississ­ippi and Little Rock facilities to integrate operations and produce bottles from raw resin, Stacks says.

Most recently, Mountain Pure installed a fully automated robotic pre-form system. This system, with a 125 cavity mold, is capable of producing 400 million pre-forms and will continue to greatly re­duce resin amounts in individual bottles.

The machine’s manufacturer, Netstal-Maschinen AG of Switzerland, is one of the world’s leading suppliers of high precision, high speed plastic injection molding machines. “Netstal machines meet the highest standards in terms of process management, quality of molded parts and production performance, and are primarily employed in the manufacture of particularly complex technical and thin-wall plastic molded parts,” the company says.

Though the recession led to a drop in sales in 2009, Mountain Pure LLC is beginning to regain its footing through promotion and increasing efficiencies on the assembly line, Stacks says.

As part of this effort, the company re­duced recently the weights on its bottles, leading to less materials being used in production.

Stacks credits his staff for the continued success of the company.

“The company has been here for many years,” he says. “The longevity we have, and our many longtime employees, make us stand out.”