Jan 252012
Authors: Colleen Canty

To some, it is a perplexing contraption of snaking tubes and whirring nozzles. To others, it is a cherished memento of a lingering childhood.

“I was born and raised in Fort Collins; I absolutely grew up with Water Pik,” said Briana Rowe, a 2010 Colorado State University alumna. “All my mom’s friends owned something Water Pik, my grandma owned the shower massager and I, of course, owned a water flosser.”

Your shower head may not seem a likely place to uncover history, tradition and intricate engineering, but for the local company Water Pik, these elements are what have propelled it to continue its “innovative personal and oral healthcare product” development into its 50th anniversary celebration this month.

The company, headquartered on the corner of Riverside Avenue and Prospect Road, has centered its efforts around the idea of developing a brand. When one hears the name Water Pik, many conjure nostalgic images of their grandmother’s massaging shower head, the water flosser that made braces slightly less insufferable or the seemingly space-age sonic toothbrush of every child’s dental dreams.

According to Rowe, who today is the executive assistant to the CEO and marketing coordinator, although many immediately identify Fort Collins with New Belgium and Otter Box today, when she was younger the face of the Foco business scene was chiefly HP and Water Pik.

Richard Bisson, president and CEO of the company since 2006, believes its enduring roots in the community have been the fruit of proper leadership.

“The leadership of the company has been passionate about and committed to the brand,” Bisson said. “There is an amazing tradition of high quality, trustworthy and innovative products. When people hear ‘Water Pik’ we want them to think health, wellness, quality and innovation and we are very focused on that.”

Water Pik, born in 1962 with the breakthrough of the then called Dental Water Jet (now Water Flosser), has been colored with community pride since the beginning. John Mattingly successfully designed a motor that was to make possible Dr. Gerald Moyer’s vision for “oral irrigation” aided by a pulsating apparatus. Mattingly was a hydraulic engineering professor at CSU and Moyer a local dentist.

From the seedling of a company these two men planted and grew Water Pik as the world knows it today: a privately-held company distributing health and wellness products in more than 100 countries and 60,000 stores nation-wide.
And all from the hands of 125 employees down the street from CSU, many are graduates themselves.

As an entire company, Water Pik operates with 155 employees, who specialize in areas ranging from “engineering to sales to finance to manufacturing to logistics,” according to Bisson.

“We have a very low turn over; Fort Collins is a fantastic place to live, work and play,” he said. “We only use CSU students to fill intern positions and we often hire CSU graduates. Most of the employees live in Fort Collins.”

Bisson believes the contributions made by the school to the company in both consumer support and internship relations are reciprocal. The company strives to serve as a “mentor” for students for research and marketing strategies, representing a unique model of business focused on creating a “consumer-oriented brand.”

Although timeless, Water Pik has put a spin on personal hygiene that has made showering “innovative” and flossing “addictive.” And according to Bisson, this isn’t the pinnacle.

“We’re excited about 50 years, right?” he said. “But our objective now is to go another 50.”

Collegian reporter Colleen Canty can be reached at new@collegian.com.

Company History

Hydraulic engineer and former Colorado State University professor John Mattingly and Fort Collins dentist Gerald Moyer achieve patent for a piston enabling motorized oral irrigator.

Original Water Pik oral irrigator receives its first patent. The machine will later become the company’s Water Pik Water Flosser.

The Original Shower Massage shower head is introduced by Water Pik, the first of its kind.

First cordless Water Pik is introduced, an improvement on the original Dental Water Jet.

The company, once one of three publicly owned businesses, sells itself to a private equity firm. Richard Bisson, who had been with the company since 1999, is appointed president and CEO.

Water Pik Sensonic Professional electronic toothbrush is introduce with a bristle speed 25 percent faster than its competitors.

Water Pik’s first line of sinus wash products, SinuSense, is launched.

Water Flosser For Kids and Water Pik Traveler is introduced with a global voltage compatibility allowing it to operate in any country.

Water Pik celebrates its 50th anniversary in Fort Collins.

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