By Rhashad R. Pittman
Local homeowners and businesses that get their bottled water from Brookfalls Water Company may notice a new company name on their bill this month. The Stockton filtered water provider has merged with First Choice, a coffee and bottled water chain that serves the western United States.
With the merger, Brookfalls joins one of the largest coffee and water service companies in the country. First Choice serves 35 locations throughout 13 states, including California, Oregon, Texas, Colorado, and Michigan, offering coffee delivery services, as well as bottled water and water filtration systems for offices.
“They are enhancing our services,” said Gary Ghan, co-owner of Brookfalls. “They offer more products to our customers.”
The merger will provide more options and services and enhanced technology for local customers, Ghan said.
First Choice provides various types of coffee beans and brewing equipment. The company also offers businesses cutting-edge technology involving ultraviolet light to enhance the quality of their drinking water.
“I had to join forces with their company to take it to the next level,” Ghan said. “I took Brookfalls as far as I could. But I couldn’t take it any further.”
The merger closed on June 17, bringing an end to an era of local ownership that has lasted 15 years. But Brookfalls customers can rest assured that the friendly, service-oriented staff they have grown accustomed to will remain intact, Ghan said.
He and Brookfalls co-owner Craig Issacson will continue to work on the staff of First Choice, as will the rest of the employees that made up Brookfalls. Ghan will serve as operations manager out of First Choice’s Manteca office.
“I’m still working hard for you,” Ghan said of his longtime customers. “We’re not locally owned anymore, but we’re locally operated.”
Brookfalls was started in May 1998 by Ghan and Issacson. At its peak, the company had nearly a dozen employees and served more than 1,800 customers. It provided half-liter and five-gallon bottles of filtered water to homes and offices throughout San Joaquin Valley and beyond.
From its inception, Brookfalls focused on providing friendly and professional service to customers and being an active supporter of the community. The Stockton business regularly provided free products and services for numerous events, including fundraisers and health fairs.
Ghan continues to be active in the community. He serves on the board of directors for the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and is a member of the Stockton Downtown Rotary Club and California Bottle Water Association. In 2003 the local Hispanic chamber named Ghan Hispanic Business Man of the Year.
In the beginning, Ghan recalled, it was family and friends who propelled Brookfalls to success and played a crucial role in keeping the business operating during difficult financial times. His wife Cathy Jow-Ghan of 25 years and two daughters were especially instrumental, he said. That support helped Brookfalls stay afloat amid a recession that seemed endless.
“Without their help and support, I wouldn’t have made it,” he said.
Ghan looks forward to his continued relationship with community based organizations and events. Look for him to be in a suit and tie. Say goodbye to the shorts.