Shoestring Success: WaterFilters.net warehouse was the space behind the coach.

WaterFilters.NET makes it easy to research, find, and purchase all types of water filters. The company provides a broad selection of of water filter types (reverse osmosis, water softeners, refrigerator filters, undersink water filters, shower filters, commercial water filters, and so forth) and sells all major water filter brands. The company sells water filters made by recognized brands such as Culligan, Pentek, General Electric, and Maytag through its website.

The company was founded in 2002 by Jamin Arvig, who owned and operated various small businesses and real estate companies prior to running WaterFilters.NET. His education includes a computer engineering degree and a law degree. The company began in Arvig’s 650-square foot Minneapolis condo. The warehouse was the space behind the couch. It then expanded to a van and later a basement. Finally, in 2008, WaterFilters.NET built its own 20,000 square foot distribution center after Zumbrota, south of Minneapolis, brought WaterFilters.NET to the town under its Jobz initiative (the city and state were impressed by the company’s potential to add jobs, so they extended exemptions from Minnesota state income tax, sales tax, and property tax).

WaterFilters.NET seemed to be a promising business opportunity because it incorporated the growing industries of water, health/fitness, e-commerce, and green supplies and building. Since then, people have started to become more educated about contaminants in water, e-commerce retail has grown consistently and significantly, and filtered tap water is taking market share from bottled water because of the green movement and the recession. Arvig self financed the company, which had a minimal budget. The budget grew as the company grew and had enough resources to provide for a bigger budget.n 2009 $5.4 million,

WaterFilters.NET first made the Inc500 list in 2008 for being in the top 500 fastest growing companies, and the annual revenue will surpass $10 million for 2010.

The growth of the business has not been easy. There have been a lot of growing pains. Fortunately, passion can overcome many weaknesses. Arvig says his best quality is persistence, which comes from his passion for the business. He tries to make the same mistake only once and grow personally and professionaly every single day. These have been the keys to his success.

The best advice I never got was to align ourselves with experts. Experts can come in the form of employees, consultants, vendors, or executive peers. An expert’s advice can be invaluable and make a tremendous difference in the direction of the company, or in the direction of particular departments. To remain on the cutting edge, it is essential that the very best industry practices are used. WaterFilters.NET is in a “grow-or-die” industry, so without key growth strategies and efficient implementation of these strategies, there would not have been a future for WaterFilters.NET.

In a company that doubles almost every year, there is constant change and constant improvement. There is no single transition that was needed during the growth of WaterFilters.NET. Rather, there is constant transition. I suppose it could be said that there was one main transition that was made, and that was to instill the idea in every employee’s mind that there should be constant change and constant improvement.

Entrepreneurship is not a bed of roses, as the myth would have us believe. It is very difficult. It can be lonely when you are the only one around to fix or improve things after everyone else goes home for the night or the weekend. However, it can be very rewarding as well when you see the growth in others and when you can see a team coming together for a common goal. For entrepreneurs considering a new venture, I would recommend choosing an opportunity that you are passionate about. When times are tough and the road seems to difficult, you will be re-energized by knowing that you are making a difference to others and to the world.

By Jamin Arvig
President, WaterFilters.NET
Zumbrota, Minn.

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