Jeff & Katrina Thomas moved to Oregon over 25 years ago to begin raising a family in the beautiful Willamette Valley...and to live in the Pacific Northwest, home to extremely rich agricultural lands - be part of the early farm-to-fork food movement, and begin sipping some of the finest Pinot Noir, micro-brewery beer and freshly roasted coffee produced in the world.
Fast forward to 2008. Jeff and Katrina Thomas started their company with the goal of reinventing the garden hose. They wanted to create an American-made hose that was slim, light and flexible; that didn't kink; that didn't leach chemicals; and that was beautiful to look at. The Water Right hose was born, crafted from American-made polyurethane and produced in beautiful colors like eggplant, olive, cranberry and espresso.
What inspired you to design your hoses?
Out of sheer frustration. We had this thought one day: Why can’t garden hose be better? Why does it have to be heavy, last a season or two at best, leak here and there and everywhere, be so bulky, need to contain and/or leach toxins - and why does is have to look like S#@t. Terrible colors, nasty smells, etc.
With that, we set out to develop a world-class garden hose…one that was American made, one that was slim and lightweight, one that would not permanently kink, one that would not leak or smell funny, one that did not leach nasty chemicals, one with fittings that would not crush, one that would remain soft and flexible in cold weather, one that would last for years and one that was beautiful to look at. We wanted to develop a hose for our own home that was better than anything else on the market...and then we looked at each other and said..."let's reinvent the garden hose".
What is your company’s philosophy?
To make the best American-Made gardening products we can. Our mission is to bring innovation and quality back to the United States. When others say “Why,” we say “Why not.” In our mind, manufacturers whose products are designed for nearly immediate obsolescence is irresponsible. Our country was founded on quality and innovation and our goal is to provide that each and every day.
What have you learned in the process of starting your company?
That honesty, integrity, respect, timeliness, manners, and doing what you say you are going to do is paramount. Equally important is developing relationships with suppliers and customers who value the same.
How long did it take you to create the perfect Water Right hose?
That’s a fun one. I would say we spent 3-4 years doing research, prototyping, field testing, customer testing and prototyping over and over until we got it just right. I can’t tell you how many Water Right prototype hoses have been tested on every faucet at our home. Front yard, back yard, chicken run, raised bed area, garage, roof, motor home and more. Seems like every few weeks or so we have a new one to test. Every time I bring a new prototype hose home, my kids run. I guess they think I am something similar to Dick Van Dyke as “Caractacus Potts,” in the movie Chitty-Chitty Bang, Bang.
Do you have any tips on how to use your hoses?
We always tell people that the more you use our hose, the better it gets. This hose is remarkable once you get it out of its package, uncoil it completely to a fully extended position and then bake it out in the sun while under pressure for a day or two. The hose comes new in the box with what we call temporary, packaging-memory. It can be a little sticky at first and even get a little stuck to itself until you uncoil it completely and lay it flat out on the ground. It also will coil back up nicely after the initial break-in period. We recommend coiling the hose back up loosely and allow it to go back to its naturally circular state. I always pull out my garden hose completely straight before winding it back up so that it coils up naturally and does so without any twists in the hose.
Some of the things that make this hose even better is dirt, driveways and any other hard surfaces. All of these things begin to remove the initial stickiness of the hose and, the more you use it, the more you love it. So go ahead, get it dirty, drive over it, let the kids play jump rope with and break it in.
What is the best thing about having your own company? What are some of the challenges you face?
For us it’s the reward of hearing from a customer “I love your product and I love what Water Right is doing to bring back quality to the gardening category.” It’s also like getting to choose which sandbox we want to play in every day and which Tonka Trucks we are going to motor around with.
Hmmm…challenges. Unforeseen delays and raw material shortages with suppliers can make things a bit challenging at times. So can production issues and manpower issues.
Are you an avid gardener? If so, what do you enjoy about gardening?
We love gardening. Although sometimes we know just enough about it to be dangerous. In no way are we expert gardeners, but we sure enjoy planting our annual vegetable garden with the kids. We also like to harvest and eat handfuls of blueberries before the deer decide to eat them and we also enjoy getting our home ready every year for spring and summer with annuals, annuals and more annuals. We just love color. but color is my thing and I really enjoy getting the flower pots and hanging baskets ready year after year. And believe it or not, we enjoy mowing, weeding, trimming, cutting back shrubs, raking leaves and more. Sort of our Zen if you will.
If you hadn’t invented the Water Right hose, what else would you be doing?
That’s easy. Doing what we love doing everyday…conceptualizing another product, prototyping it, commercializing it, and repeating the process. It’s funny, it took us until we were about 35 years old before we learned we are fairly good at it and it is really a lot of fun. Innovation...problem solving…invention…marketing and branding.We love creating products and companies from scratch. Not sure there is anything else we would want to do that could bring us more pleasure.
Do you grow fruits and vegetables? If so, what are your favorite things to grow?
Yes we do. We enjoy growing blueberries, raspberries and a few strawberries…although we are never very successful harvesting strawberries because our dog, Jack, seems to harvest them faster than we do. Our other favorites are basil, tomatoes, yellow cucumbers, beans and super-big pumpkins.
How is it working together as a husband and wife team?
Hmmm? That's a good question.