Mitzi Bender decided a rain barrel was the perfect solution to her flooding basement. Unfortunately, an attractive rain barrel that met her neighborhoods’ stringent requirements was nowhere to be found. Rather than accept a lifetime of soggy basement carpets, Bender partnered with her friend Karen Bell and together designed their own attractive “raintainer” for the capture of rooftop runoff.
As their invention took shape, Bender and Bell formed a company, Four Water LLC. In search of startup guidance, Bender and Bell turned to Carol Cornell, director of the SBDC at Northern Kentucky University, for financial instruction, price modeling and general startup support. In March 2008, Four Water LLC incorporated and in June they filed a registered trademark and patent.
A friend put us in touch with Carol at the NKU SBDC. We found the services so valuable that we were meeting with Carol on a near weekly basis. The SBDC assistance we have received was absolutely critical to our growth.
– Mitzi Bender, co-owner
Four Water LLC sold their first 500 rain barrels to the city of Lexington, which promptly sold out in just 24 hours. In 2009, the city of Lexington continued to support Four Water LLC and designed a special rain barrel mascot, Lily, to join the city’s other household waste, lawn waste and recycling mascots.
Bender and Bell have put particular emphasis on making sure Four Water LLC creates green jobs in Kentucky while producing a sustainable product. Today, their rain barrels are produced at a plant and fulfillment center in Mt. Sterline, Kentucky.
The company is currently providing 14 cities with rain barrels and has plans to continue growing the “raintainer” line as well as expanding into other product offerings.