Distillata, founded in 1897, celebrates its fourth generation in business and its upcoming 118th birthday. Since its inception, Distillata has been on the cutting edge of the bottled water and water services industry, laying the foundations for the way water works in our world today.
Ten years before Bob Hope’s family arrived in Cleveland after emigrating from England, Distillata opened their ice (City Ice) and water business at 1542 East 24th Street where Distillata remains to this day. This company distributed ice and water to the greater Cleveland area through the First World War, the Great Depression, and the Second World War. After the Second World War ended, the two entities parted ways, City Ice going on to focus on ice and Distillata producing soda pop and distilled water.
In 1950, Distillata was purchased by the man who would shape the future of bottled water, George Miller. When he took over the company, George saw that with the way industrialization and its environmental impact was going, the need for clean, pure water would be of great value in the future for generations to come. In his time heading the company, George created the groundwork for water delivery services – distributing distilled water to homes, offices, and hospitals. When George’s son-in-law Bill Schroeder joined him in the business partnership in 1957, Distillata opened the Akron Mineral Spring Water Company, expanding the business. Distillata now supplied distilled water, spring water, and many different flavors of soda.
However, George’s health declined and in 1966, he succumbed to his third heart attack. In his father-in-law’s absence, Bill took over the company and continued to carry on George’s legacy of innovative forethought. Six years later, Bill made a bold decision. He dropped soda from Distillata’s product line to focus entirely on distilled and spring water. This decision came from Pepsi and Coca-Cola cornering the soda market and raising production costs too high for small soda companies to stay competitive, but this was not the only aspect of Bill’s reasoning. Bill saw that bottled water had yet to reach its full potential, and Distillata had a role to play in it getting there.
In 1983, Bill’s eldest son Keith joined his father in the Cleveland family business. When he came on the team, he instituted renting coolers to offices as well as to homes. Keith’s decision to expand cooler rental into private homes was widely criticized at first, but in the end, his decision led to water coolers becoming commonplace in homes across the country. Keith’s brother Kevin joined the company in 1987 and expanded the business beyond the Cleveland and Akron area. With Kevin’s leadership, the company began distributing and delivering distilled and spring water to all of Ohio and into neighboring states.
In recent years, Distillata has expanded its services and product line even further to become one of the very first full-service water companies. In 2006, Keurig K-cup coffee brewers were added to the product line, offering distilled and spring water options for coffee. In 2008, Distillata expanded even further into water filtration.
In 2014, George Miller’s great-grandson Adam Schroeder became the fourth generation of businessmen to join the family company. He is now the head of the sales team and is committed to the company’s continued foresight and creativity that has kept this Cleveland family business at the cutting edge of the water services industry. While the company has grown, expanded, and laid the groundwork for an entire industry, Distillata continues to be a family-owned and operated, Cleveland proud company in their original building on East 24th Street.
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