In the Bottle Business
When he was a student at Pacific University, Jonas Hanna ’18 watched them go by.
Nalgenes. Hydro Flasks. Klean Kanteens. Siggs. CamelBaks.
“Around college campuses, or wherever I go, people really love their water bottles,” said Hanna, who graduated in May 2018 with a degree in business administration. “I noticed their water bottles become part of their identity.”
If things go well, students sometime will begin carrying his new brand, Bottle Bros, which features the Portland skyline. Already, he said, the insulated, stainless steel bottles have been ordered by Made in Oregon stores and may be ordered online from the company website at bottle-bros.com.
Another version will feature the Pacific University logo.
It’s a quick start out of the box for Hanna and his partners in Bottle Bros, Aidan Schneider and Zach Johnson. The three childhood friends, who attended and competed in sports at Pacific, the University of Oregon and Western Oregon University, kicked around ideas for a product before pursuing the idea of marketing a region-specific, stainless steel bottle.
Their background is reflected in their web copy. “Our bottles are the highest quality 18/8 stainless steel to give you the peace of mind to take them with you no matter the conditions,” it reads. “Be it a baseball field, basketball court or a hiking trail, Bottle Bros has you covered.”
After graduating, Hanna sought guidance from Wanda Frazier, the director of placement services in the Pacific University College of Business.
“I was working on a project to highlight successful students and asked him to participate, so I was able to learn a little more about him and the blossoming Bottle Bros business,” Frazier said. “The ah-ha moment came when I was volunteering at Commencement. It dawned on me that we should be selling Jonas’ water bottles. It was a hot day, everyone was searching for water, so when I saw Jonas again, I mentioned that he needed to get connected with Pacific.”
The Bottle Bros team has learned a lot in a short time about manufacturing in China, customs, accounting and other business basics. The challenges are many, Hanna said, but fortunately federal tariffs on Chinese imports haven’t affected the young company.
Hanna said the company hasn’t yet become profitable, but it is covering its cost of goods. His plans call for wider distribution in the Portland area and expansion to other cities with their own, region-specific designs.
“There’s plenty of water bottles on the market that are high-quality,” he said, “but there are no water bottles that are high quality on the market that have Portland-specific designs, or any regional-specific designs, for that matter.”
As busy as he has been with Bottle Bros, Hanna still is doing the work after hours, when he’s not working his full-time job with the Robert Evans Co., a Portland-based development firm. But he has high hopes for Bottle Bros.
Said Pacific’s Frazier: “I knew he would be successful.”