You can not discuss the history of bottled water in Cleveland without including The Distillata Company. Distillata has been located at 1608 East 24th Street in Cleveland for well over a century. We started by serving our downtown neighbors bottled water products. We have since expanded our delivery routes to cover all of Northeast Ohio! Our family-owned company has been an innovator in distilled water and water filtration techniques since its inception. See the timeline below for more details about our exciting history of bottled water.
1897: With the absence of refrigeration, City Ice began by delivering ice via horse and buggy. They soon realized that their customers also lacked access to clean water. The addition of Distillata 5-gallon glass bottles created a perfect pairing of ice and water delivery. City Ice – Distillata operated out of the same Cleveland location that we work in today. Our state-of-the-art one-gallon bottling line now sits on what was once horse stables.
1897 – 1945: City Ice and Distillata remained partners through World War 1, the Great Depression, and World War 2. Eventually, Distillata and City Ice went separate ways. We then added soda pop to our line of products along with distilled water in returnable glass bottles.
1950’s: Our grandfather and retired Strong Cobb President George Miller purchases Distillata. Mr. Miller was a renowned pharmacist and had incredible foresight and intense fervor. He believed that pollution from the industrial revolution would make safe water valuable in the future. He was especially concerned with the health of our Lake Erie. His goal was to maintain our access to such a valuable source of freshwater. But, Lake Erie was not healthy, and trust was diminishing.
1950 – 1957: Mr. Miller revolutionizes the use of distilled water in Cleveland homes, hospitals, and offices. He was a true pioneer laying the groundwork for the common use of bottled distilled water to this day. He proved that steam distillation could ensure the use of freshwater from our great lake.
1957: With high demand for Distillata products, George Miller needed help running the company. It was important to our grandfather that it remain a family business. So, he asked his son-in-law Bill Schroeder to join him. Bill and George had a very close relationship. George’s scientific knowledge combined with Bill’s business acumen was key to sustaining the growth in the years to come.
1965: Distillata buys Akron Mineral Spring Water. With this acquisition, we offered an alternative to distilled water. Our customers could now enjoy fresh, clean artesian spring water. Another insightful decision, 1965 spring water was not yet commonplace.
1966: Sadly, George Miller succumbs to a heart attack. Bill Schroeder, at the young age of 34, is now in charge of continuing this family business.
1972: Bill Schroeder makes a shocking and bold decision that would forever change Distillata. He stopped all production of soda pop and concentrated only on bottled water. Escalating sugar costs made manufacturing pop cost-prohibitive. And, Distillata could not compete with the high-speed production of Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Bill had a keen sense that bottled water had not yet reached its full potential. He needed to focus all his energy on this healthier alternative.
1983: Keith Schroeder (Bill’s oldest son) graduates from Wittenberg University and joins the business. Following in his family’s footsteps, he made another decision that would shape the bottled water industry. Keith instituted renting water coolers to homes for the first time. This decision was criticized by peers but later copied by most bottled water companies in the area. Soon, water coolers became commonplace in homes. Thanks to Keith, residents in the area enjoyed easy access to chilled water.
1987: Kevin Schroeder joins the team. He continues the family tradition of innovation in distilled and bottled water products in Cleveland and Akron. Kevin took the Akron area by storm – expanding the business to new heights. Kevin saw beyond the confines of Northeast Ohio. Soon, through distributorship partners, neighboring states were enjoying Cleveland’s favorite bottled water. He laid the groundwork for our growing division of wholesale bottled water.
1998: Distillata purchases Minnehaha Water Company. Distillata and Minnehaha were fierce but friendly competitors occupying the same market. After the acquisition, Distillata became the premiere water company in Cleveland.
2006: Distillata adds office coffee products through an exclusive agreement with Keurig®. Our business customers trusted our delivery service. At the same time, they needed a hassle-free coffee supply. We listened and added Keurig® coffee to our line of products.
2008: Distillata sees a growing need to expand to the water filtration arena. Certified professionals are hired on making Distillata one of the first full-service water companies. Until now, there was a distinct separation between bottled water and water filtration companies. We realized it would benefit our customers to offer both products. Hence, our water filtration division was created and continues to thrive.
2014: History is in the making with the return of Lebron James to Cleveland and the fourth generation coming aboard Distillata. Adam Schroeder begins his career as head of the water filtration division. Adam offers a true passion for his hometown and a fresh outlook for future business plans. He is pursuing an MBA at Case Western Reserve University. While doing so, Adam is applying his knowledge in real-time to provide value to our company and our customers.
2018: Heather Donelan joins as our accounting and human resources manager. She is another Wittenberg alumni with her heart in Cleveland. Heather recently completed her MBA at Cleveland State University. She adds vitality to the family business with a devotion to stellar customer care and strong team-building skills stemming from her lifelong love of sports.
2020: The COVID-19 pandemic hits. Distillata is deemed an essential business. As grocery store shelves are emptied of distilled water, our wholesale bottled water division ramps up production. With strict rules to keep our team healthy, we continue to deliver water to areas homes, and businesses without interruption.
Watch this video to learn more about Distillata and the history of bottled water in Cleveland, Oh.