The story behind CannedWater4kids (CW4K)
CannedWater4kids (cW4k) was established on January 22, 2008, by Greg Stromberg, a 47-year veteran of the packaging industry focused on cans.
He was alarmed at the rate at which children worldwide were dying from waterborne diseases caused by the lack of clean, safe drinking water. It seemed odd that a world able to put men on the moon or create self-driving cars had not fixed the clean drinking water problem.
With support from the Can industry, and a passion for wanting to save children and reverse this trend of water-borne diseases, our lean 501c3 E-charity was born. The aluminum can and aluminum bottle have become a billboard for broadcasting the charity’s purpose. Our canned water product also promotes the impressive sustainability attributes of the aluminum container which benefits the industry- and our environment. Best of all, we’re helping children today so they have a chance at tomorrow.
A video detailing Greg’s motivation for cW4k can be seen here: https://www.cannedwater4kids.com/special/ourstart.html
Greg’s Grandfather was key inspiration for the nonprofit
Greg’s Grandfather, Dr. Norvin Stromberg, was known for his kindness providing free dental care to those in need during the great depression. This selfless action became one of the things that fueled Greg’s passion and formation of CannedWater4kids. Times were tough. People needed dental care but couldn’t afford it because all of their money was for food. Norvin was there to help. This selfless action was always top of mind for Greg.
Inspiration was also drawn from Newman’s Own Brand, where 100% of the royalties and profits that it receives from the sale of Newman’s Own products for charitable purposes.
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies, and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you. Do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed not only remove it but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you too much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes. Click on it to find out more. All right, let's get started.
Umar Hameed 0:41
Today, I'm privileged to have Greg Stromberg here, he is the founder and CEO of CannedWater4Kids. Greg, welcome to the program.
Gregory Stromberg 0:49
Thank you, Umar, I'm excited to be able to talk to you today.
Umar Hameed 0:53
When we chatted, it was yesterday on the phone, one of the things you said that really kind of struck me was you had said that, at some point, you had this need to leave a legacy and make an impact on the world for your kids and your family. Take me back to that moment. And then we'll go into what CannedWater4Kids are?
Gregory Stromberg 1:12
Yes, late 2008, I had a full time job working for a international company that manufactures printing ink that decorates all the cans in the in the world. And I had a very successful career at that point. And three healthy kids, nine healthy grandchildren. And I just felt that something was missing. I needed to do something different, different and give back to the global community.
Umar Hameed 1:42
And was there something going on at that point for you that made you think those things we knew retirement or what was going on?
Gregory Stromberg 1:50
Well, a couple things. I just like I said they felt there was something missing. But I attended a metal decorator summit put on by the trade magazine, metal decorators. And they had a gentleman from the UN speak there on packaging, and basically said to all the people this was in Chicago, late October 2007. And he basically said, What are you doing to help the people in the world with your rigid packaging containers. Because most of the food in the water got contaminated and it was unprotected. And people literally are starving to death because they couldn't get the food in a secure way to the people. So I kind of took that as a challenge and had an idea in the CEO of crown core conceal was there, I presented an idea that I had about taking this cam and given it a higher purpose. And that's kind of where CannedWater4Kids was born.
Umar Hameed 2:56
And tell me what the what the organization does and why it's important to support it?
Gregory Stromberg 3:02
Well, our purpose is to make sure that every child in the world has access to clean, safe drinking water. You know, having three healthy kids and nine healthy grandchildren and being made aware of some of the problems in the in the world with kids dying back then it was every 15 seconds now it's every 20 seconds from waterborne diseases. And after hearing that summit, I felt this is a perfect opportunity to use the aluminum beverage can to promote a cause kind of using the Canada's a poster child for this, this need.
Umar Hameed 3:41
And it's just astounding that as we were talking, of course, I took a sip of water from my glass. And I don't have to think twice about whether this water is safe or not. And it's just something we take for granted that devastates the rest of the world.
Gregory Stromberg 3:57
Yeah, having having said that, obviously, in the developing countries, you know, the water is polluted, and older and younger people are dying at every 20 seconds or getting a waterborne disease. But you know, we have the problem in the US. Flint, Michigan is a perfect example where they had lead in the water. And there are 2000 cities that have contaminated tap water that I don't think a lot of people are aware of. And we we help support Flint with about five truckloads of water when they had the crisis and the crisis still isn't over. And we have the problem here in Milwaukee.
Umar Hameed 4:36
Is there a list somewhere online with the seeds that are contaminated that we know off?
Gregory Stromberg 4:40
Um, I'm sure there is. But I would I would tell you that every major city because of the infrastructure, you know the lead pipes in the laterals to the lead pipes and the older homes that have the lead connections, the water gets contaminated. And it has a high level of lead, for example, the City of Milwaukee, the whole inner city, I can supply every zip code that has has a lead content in it. And this has been going on for a long time. And to add to the problem they had the the lead paint problem.
Umar Hameed 5:17
Gregory Stromberg 5:18
That's that's another issue.
Umar Hameed 5:19
So tell me about taking this idea to your CEO. And how long did it take from idea to actually getting the first set of cans filled with water and ready to raise funds to change the world.
Gregory Stromberg 5:35
Now, Umar back in 2008, after that summit I the the CEO of Crown Core Conceal who's now retired by true it and Jerry Gifford, who's now the new CEO. They made a commitment they have their plant, one of their plants up in La Crosse, Wisconsin make a skit of cans for us that they donated, I had them filled. And I was often off and running. And somebody in Milwaukee found out about us, actually, a young University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee student who was with engineers, though borders who came to me and said, Hey, Greg, I heard that you've got a charity with canned water for kids, that you're trying to help people and says, I have a project for you in the Highland highlands of Guatemala, can you help us out?
Umar Hameed 6:24
Brilliant. And so tell me about that first project?
Gregory Stromberg 6:28
Well, that first project was to get the engineers down to Guatemala, and they go down there on their own time, and, and their own money. And we give them resources to go down there. And I was just starting out, and I wrote a check out for $10,000 to Marissa Blonsky, who's now got her PhD in environmental engineering, wrote a check out to her and without even soul selling my first cannon, guess that was my motivation to sell.
Umar Hameed 7:01
Now who do it. And so you said providing resources since they're paying their own travel to get there? What resources do you provide to help them bring clean water to communities?
Gregory Stromberg 7:14
This would be all the piping that they had to purchase down there to get the water to the village. So each home had running water, they had to build a container to purify that water. So that the concrete to submit the reinforcement for all of that the chlorine that they needed, you know, to purify and all the testing all we you know, we help.
Umar Hameed 7:43
Good. So what's kind of interesting is just you know what true leadership really is where, you know, just adding chlorine in water was something that was new and considered unsafe and dangerous when it was first first thought of, but we take it for granted now. What's the reaction when you go to third world countries and you want to treat the water? What's their level of acceptance? What are the hurdles that you guys have to overcome?
Gregory Stromberg 8:11
Well, I wasn't directly involved in it, but I can I can tell you that it took some convincing because of the lack of education of what exactly it was going to do to the water. So Marissa and her team were able to convince the village porters people, that it was not going to cause them problems, it was going to make them even safer. And you know, they were getting sick.
Umar Hameed 8:44
And I can't think of anything that would be more traumatic than losing a child. And I guess we experienced it in this country. Decades ago, like maybe a century ago when there was a really high mortality rate and now we're just so accustomed to having kids that grow up healthy and the rest of the world does not have that luxury.
Gregory Stromberg 9:04
Right I mean, we can go back here even 10-20 years in Milwaukee they killed over 1000 people's Cryptosporidium, when their water got contaminated at the filtration plant. It since that time you know they've made they made a lot of changes but with the loose regulations that are going on right now there's a real danger for all of us. And I would be very skeptical to drink I hate to say this, any tap water without knowing the source, how it was purified and and how it got to you. You know either by pipe or by by container. That's the beauty of what we do is our container the aluminum can and bottle literally gets canned right at the at the site doesn't travel long distance is secure when it gets to the end user and it's the containers infinitely recyclable. Unlike plastic, which goes into rivers and lakes and oceans, breaks down and contaminates even more our water, it actually literally dissolves in it. It's it's very scary.
Umar Hameed 10:17
And I think the water you use you were telling me it's from a really ancient glacier.
Gregory Stromberg 10:21
Well, we, we had to we had two sources when I first started out, but our water not comes from Norfolk, Nebraska, from a very deep clean okorafor. So people can be assured that they are drinking very pure, clean and safe water.
Umar Hameed 10:39
Alright, so let's talk about your selling this water. And I think the it was 95%, 95 cents of every dollar gets actually put to use to help these projects to get water in places where they need clean water. And you there are no employees, you don't take a salary. And there are no offices and so you're extremely lean. So tell me about the business? Where are you promoting your water? How can our listeners, my listeners, get that water and help the cause out?
Gregory Stromberg 11:10
Well, you know, we have our own website CannedWater4Kids.org. C-a-n-n-e-d-W-a-t-e-r, the number 4, k-i-d-s.org. they can order right there and use their credit card or PayPal. And we sell our 12 ounce cans and bottles. They can also go to Amazon. We're not in any major store. So right now we're all e-commerce, we ship direct, we can get the water out almost the next day. And, you know, I'm happy to say that we're in some of the major national parks like Denali and Yellowstone and you cemani, Port Angeles. We're at a couple of universities like St. Louis University, and I said Washington University in St. Louis, excuse me. And we're in a number of hotels, but we're slowly getting the word of mouth out about what we're doing. And and we hope people see what we're doing and ask their local store to carry our product.
Umar Hameed 12:14
So right now, when you think of companies like Britta that make those filters to clean water, how effective are those?
Gregory Stromberg 12:22
Well, they are to a certain point, taking out some of the solids, but it does not remove, for example, I live in area where there's radium, natural occurring radium in the granite rocks, and when the water level goes down, the water gets contaminated with you know, radiation radium. And so, it's it's right now it's over the it's over the limit. There are other chemicals, you know, some of the medical byproducts cannot cannot be removed easily. And, you know, take special filters and technology to to remove that, you know, water is easily contaminated, you know, left, left open in open air, you know, just the air we breathe is contaminated. So, you know, it gets you know, it gets it gets in the water and the containers that it goes into. Depending on what that container is and how well it's sealed, and it was a pasteurized or purified or whatever. Those are all critical elements that can affect it. But you know, most of these filters take out some of the the bad stuff, but they can't get everything. Okay. So it's it's important to have your water, you know, tested by a laboratory to make sure you know what you're drinking.
Umar Hameed 13:57
I think that is great advice. And so tell me how many projects you have done and what are the new projects you guys are working on?
Gregory Stromberg 14:04
Well, we've done 11 wells in Zambia, Central Africa, started in two in 2008. So when we put our first one in, we're on our 11th year with Engineers Without Borders and help support them in Guatemala. In fact, they're down in Guatemala right now. Our newest project is in Kenya Africa, with some new nanotechnology called the pod system from a company called Stonehouse water technologies and they're part of a technological hub in Milwaukee and they've partnered with the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, which started a freshwater school and and also they've partnered with Madison and Marquette University and Milwaukee School of Engineering, all working to solve the world's wastewater problems and ensure that the water is is safe. So we work closely with, with that startup company, and have a plan system, like I said, for a hospital in and school in Kenya, that literally takes polluted water out of a lake, a very contaminated Lake, and makes it safe, clean. And actually, it's very healthy water comes out better than it originally started.
Umar Hameed 15:21
Brilliant. I'm gonna put these links in the show notes. Greg, thanks so much for sitting down with me. And I am really happy to have met you and help you fulfill your mission.
Gregory Stromberg 15:35
Umar, thank you very much. One last statistic. Just to show you what, how money why we think every every penny is important that two and a half cents will keep a child in Zambia, Central Africa in clean water for five years.
Umar Hameed 15:53
Two and a half cents?
Gregory Stromberg 15:55
Two and a half cents. I had to do the math. I can tell you it costs us 10,000 to do a well there serves a village of over 400,000 people, mostly children. You do the math and I was pretty conservative. I had to do it a couple of times to make sure I was seeing what I saw but yeah, that's what two and a half cents will do for a child in Zambia, Central Africa where we do work.
Umar Hameed 16:21
Greg, thanks so much for sitting down with me and have a magnificent day.
Gregory Stromberg 16:26
You too. Thank you very much.
Umar Hameed 16:32
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