Bottled water helps clean-water efforts overseas

A Texas doctor's company sells water commercially to fund well digging in developing countries.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted May 16, 2011

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: C. Ted Mettetal, MD

Specialty: Family medicine

Location: Athens, Texas

Company: Hope Springs Water is a brand of bottled water link. All profits fund the digging of clean wells in developing countries.

Annual revenue: The company launched about six months ago, so numbers are unavailable.

Why he started the business: Dr. Mettetal, who has gone on medical missions for 30 years, realized that many of the illnesses he saw in developing countries could be traced to dirty drinking water.

"You can live for a while without food and without basic health care. You cannot live very long without water," he said. "Too many parents have to make a decision. Do they let their child go thirsty? Or do they try to quench a child's thirst with water that will make them sick? That's really not a choice that a parent should have to make."

A light bulb went off when he was shopping for bottled water to drink during his most recent trip.

"I thought, 'What if there was a bottled water on the shelf that gave all of its profits to provide safe water in the developing world?' " Dr. Mettetal said.

He initially looked for another company doing this. When he couldn't find one, he set up his own. Business students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, helped him write a business plan.

The company has no employees and contracts with another organization to bottle water from a Texas spring. The product is in more than 100 grocery and drugstores in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, and Dr. Mettetal is working to get it into many more. Hope Springs Water also is sold by schools and churches.

"It's gradually catching on, and I think a much larger and much broader market is possible," he said.

Why he continues to practice: "I love medicine. I love practicing. I love my patients."

Words of wisdom: "Do not be afraid to step out there and take a chance and do something you think is worthwhile."

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