Essentia Expands DSD Network with Honickman Group and Hensley

Essentia, a leader in the fast-growing alkaline water segment, made two major additions to its distribution network at the top of 2016. On Tuesday the company announced new partnerships with Phoenix-based Anheuser Busch distributor Hensley & Co. and the Honickman Group, a New Jersey distribution company with more than $1 billion in annual sales. Essentia founder and CEO Ken Uptain called the partnerships “critical steps in our buildout of a high performance national DSD network.”

Honickman Group’s role in that buildout will be servicing Essentia throughout its mid-atlantic U.S. territory, which runs from the greater Philadelphia area to the state of Virginia.

“We continually evaluate category trends and with the explosive growth in premium water and Essentia’s leadership position as the number one alkaline water, we believe Essentia provides a point of difference that will create value and growth for our retail customers,” said John Taglienti, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Honickman Group.

Hensley and its distributor partners,Romer Beverage and III Counties Distributing/Southern Arizona Distributing, will carry Essentia throughout the state of Arizona. At Hensley, which services 8,000 accounts in the greater Phoenix area, Essentia will join AQUAhydrate, another high pH water that’s performed well with the Arizona distributor. The two brands also recently started sharing truck space in Southern California via Los Angeles distribution giant Haralambos Beverage, who’s been building a robust portfolio of premium bottled water brands that also includes Core Natural and Voss.

“Essentia has a proven track record of quality, innovation, and sell-through and we are excited about the opportunity to grow this brand in Arizona,” added Brad Thomas, director of non-alcohol brands at Hensley. “The premium water category is an important focus area for our non-alcohol portfolio, and we feel that Essentia in particular has unlimited growth potential and will be a great addition to our family of leading beverage brands.”

Hensley recently announced it was acquiring adjacent AB InBev distributor Golden Eagle Beverage, which has its own non-alcoholic division, Spike Beverage. It is not yet clear if Spike will also carry Essentia.

Currently the number one selling bottled water in the natural channel, Essentia grew revenue by 90 percent in 2015. The latest gains in distribution further Essentia’s pursuit of becoming a mainstream player within the greater premium bottled water segment — one that continues to thrive amidst the decline in consumption of carbonated soft drinks. In December the company hired Karyn Abrahamson, who previously executed marketing campaigns for Microsoft, T-Mobile, Starbucks and Adidas, as its vice president of marketing.