A group of investors have purchased the Revelstoke water bottling plant and intend to restart operations sometime in the next year.
“I think water is a huge resource and I think it’s something we need and its renewable,” said Marke Antonsen, who is leading up the group of investors in the old plant, which is located off the Trans-Canada Highway just west of Glacier National Park.
The plant has been shuttered since September 2009 when the former owner Ice River Springs closed up shop, putting 19 people out of work in the process. At the time, the former owners said the plant wasn’t competitive.
The plant was opened by Naya in 1995 and changed hands several times before being closed. Antonsen’s group is the plant’s fifth set of owners.
The new owners have their work cut out for them. Ice River removed most of the equipment from the facility when they closed shop, and the roof collapsed under heavy snow load in March 2012, leaving the building in shambles.
Antonensen said he bought the plant last summer and has been working on fixing it up ever since. He said they managed to get the water flowing and were able to test the quality before winter arrived. “It’s still in a state of disrepair,” he said. “As soon as the weather clears up we’re going to clean it all up and make it so it’s presentable.”
The new owners will need to replace the roof and siding, and install new packaging equipment. Antonsen said they plan to sell the water in biodegradable Tetra Paks and bags in order to be environmentally friendly.
“We’re not planning on doing any bottling at all,” he said.
PHOTO: Revelstoke water bottling plant investors Marke Antonsen (right) and Ming Wu.
Antonsen wouldn’t say how much they paid for the plant, but did say it would cost several million to purchase the new packaging equipment. He expects it will employ 10–15 people when it’s running.
He sees a big market for packaged water in countries where clean drinking water isn’t readily available, or places like drought-stricken California. The plant comes with access to a sizeable water licence.
He’s hired a branding firm to come up with a name for the water, which he said has a ph level of 7.8–8.2, making it some of the best of the world.
“We’re going to try to use the Revelstoke brand because of the clean, pristine area it’s in,” he said.
Antonsen’s background is in the fishing industry. According to an article by the London School of Economics, where he received an MBA, he holds fishing rights off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska.
He is listed on the management team of Creston Aquaponic Spring Farms, which intends to build a fish farm that will use the fish waste in a high-tech greenhouse; and The Richmond Shrimp Company, which intends to produce live shrimp for restaurants. A brief bio says he has 30 years experience “owning, running and managing fish processing and production facilities” on the B.C. coast.”