Editor’s note: Made in Tarrant is an occasional Q&A series on small businesses started in Tarrant County. Submit your business here.
Who? Rudy Weiser is one of the partners
When? Hapi Water was founded by a dentist in Nashville in 2017 and then acquired by Fort Worth-based Hapi Brands LLC in 2022.
Where? Hapi Water’s office is located in Clearfork. You can find the product in stores like H-E-B, and via Amazon. Hapi Water will soon be found on shelves in Target as well.
What? A sugar-free, zero percent juice, flavored water geared toward children.
Tik Tok: https://www.tiktok.com/@hapidrinks
Rudy Weiser is one of the partners at Hapi Water. He spoke with reporter Sandra Sadek about the growth of the brand.
Sadek: How did you get involved in this venture? What drew you to this idea?
Weiser: Our company originally had created and had these clean water units that we were working to deploy with CalFire and U.S. Forestry. These clean water units were essentially a trailer with a reverse osmosis system that would provide clean drinking water for firefighters and disaster relief situations.
When the pandemic hit, you couldn’t gather around these units. So the only thing that could be supplied was bottled water. And so that kind of got (our parent company) into the consumer space. We’ve got a couple of brands that we oversee.
(Hapi Water) really is one that we had known and found out about and really loved the story and what it was going to be able to provide. It’s not too often that you truly have a consumer product that you think is helping and improving people. What we’re able to have here is a great-tasting option that kids love to drink. It’s a healthier alternative to a lot of the options out there. … So that’s something that was really important to us.
Sadek: How have you been able to grow the brand?
Weiser: We’ve made sure to have some really good partnerships in the area. YMCA and JDRF, are two of them. We sponsored the YMCA turkey trot for children – the gobbler trot — this past year. We also were a sponsor for the JDRF One Walk. JDRF is a leader in research for diabetes. And so those are two partnerships we really leaned into.
That’s kind of where all of us come from. Two of our owners played football at TCU, JW Wilson and Todd Fitzgerald. We’ve got another person on our staff that played soccer. Somebody was a showgirl at TCU. So we all kind of come from an active background. It was really important that we’ve been able to provide something like that. Our partnerships have been great and it’s been fantastic for the area.
Sadek: Tell me more about these drinks. How do you get both kids and parents to like them?
Weiser: The key is finding the balance between something that the kids want and the parents want as well. You see a lot of options out on the market that maybe the kid likes because it’s got a lot of flavor to it. But the parents hate it because it’s loaded with sugar or artificial ingredients. Or the flip side, you’ve got something that the parents love because there’s just barely any flavor in a water product, but the kids don’t like it. And if the kids don’t like it, then they’re not going to ask their parents to order it.
We had been able to, with a lot of work and kind of going back and forth on a lot of things, create a great-tasting product that is also healthy. … Ultimately when a kid is enjoying a product and says, ‘Hey, I want this again, Mom or Dad,’ and Mom and Dad do some research and understand what’s in it and they say, ‘Yeah, we’re good with you having this.’ It’s crazy the amount of sugar that is in some of these children’s beverages for somebody that’s the size of that 8-year-old child — it’s not good for them. That’s really where we found our success. We have a great-tasting product that the kids love. And the parents know that it’s a much healthier alternative.
Sadek: What does the company growth look like over the next few years?
Weiser: We’ve been very strategic with it. We were very intentional when we acquired the company and dialed in everything from ensuring consistency with the product, our production, our distribution, our marketing or branding — that was one of the first things that we did was kind of refresh the brand.
We’ve got a system set up in place that allows us to grow. There have been retailers that we’ve said, ‘We’re just not ready to go in there yet,’ which I think is a testament to our team.
It’s hard to sit there and say no to some of those opportunities. But we know that we have a great product and ultimately if we can deliver it well, we know those opportunities are going to continue to be there. We’ve had a lot of interest from other retailers that hopefully, by the end of this year, we can be in closer to 2000 retail locations and continue to grow, have this presence and ultimately grow our team that allows for us to have more people involved in it here in Tarrant County.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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