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Haws Corporation: Water Dispensers for the 21st Century


Luther Haws invented the water fountain in 1906. Today, the company that bears his name is a global leader in the hygienic dispensation of water.

Haws was a sanitation inspector for the City of Berkeley in 1906, when he saw school children drinking water from a shared tin cup. That observation inspired him to design and build the world’s first drinking fountain, with the Berkeley School Department his first customer. By the time California passed a state law banning the shared drinking cup in 1917, Haws already had a thriving manufacturing business.

The company began international operations in 1972, and moved its headquarters from California to Nevada, citing the latter state’s more favorable business climate, in 1996.

Today, Haws Corporation has manufacturing and assembly operations in Sparks, Nevada, where it employs several hundred workers; and in Brazil, Singapore, and Switzerland, allowing it to efficiently serve global markets. The company remains family owned.

Drinking fountains and electric water coolers remain a part of the product line. Hygienic, eco-friendly, touch-free Brita hydration stations (which allow one to fill a cup or bottle with water without having to touch a knob or button) were introduced in 2010. The latter product delivers filtered water right from standard tap lines, and eliminates the need for bottled water. A single unit can eliminate the consumption of, on average, about 36,000 bottles of water per year, according to Tom White, the company’s president.

Emergency equipment has become another important product line for Haws. This includes eyewash stations and turnkey-tempered emergency drench showers that are American National Standards Institute (ANSI) compliant. Haws engineers are able to tailor these products for the specific needs of each customer, with a full line of mixing valves, tempered water solutions, recirculation systems, air-charged systems, and alarms available.

In terms of careers, Haws employs operations managers, electrical and mechanical engineers, plumbers, pipe-fitters, and service technicians, among others. Its customers include chemical and industrial facilities, government agencies, parks, education and cultural institutions, and even service businesses such as ski resorts. Among many awards, the company is a past winner of the Western Nevada Business of the Year by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.

From Luther Haws’ pioneering, original invention to today’s company that offers award-winning products in 80 countries, this is another great story in the world of manufacturing and technology.