The Water Sense irrigation system is a product that will change the irrigation
and lawn care industry forever. Easily installed in new and existing sprinkler
systems, it has been designed with both lawn care professionals and the
average homeowner in mind. To operate, slow release tablets containing the
desired applications are placed in canisters. A controller is then set to
determine the time and length of each application.
The Water Sense system does the rest!
While the concept of delivering fertilizers through an irrigation system is not
new, the design of the Water Sense system is. Consisting of three components,
a Timer/Controller, Canister Manifold and slow dissolving Chemical Inserts, the
Water Sense system is flexible and easy to use.
Slow dissolving Chemical Inserts made of solid fertilizer and lawn controls are
easily placed in individual canisters of the manifold. Each Canister is opened and
closed at preset intervals by the Timer/Controller. When a Canister is opened,
water flows through it and the desired application is dispensed. The Water
Sense system with the design of its components and chemical distribution are
fully protected by a design patent.
Convenience, Cost & Control
The benefits of the Water Sense system are many. It provides the convenience
of “set it and forget it”. Once the slow dissolving Chemical Inserts have been
placed in the Canisters and the Timer/Controller set, the home owner can sit
back and relax. The Water Sense system does the rest. No more carrying
heavy bags of fertilizer and then walking up and down the lawn behind a
The Water Sense system also significantly reduces the cost associated with
granular applications of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. Instead, an
inexpensive Chemical Insert is all the homeowner needs to buy to get the same
application and coverage.
And because the Water Sense system controls each application, problems
associated with inconsistent coverage, water runoff and ground contamination
are eliminated. Best of all, the composition of the slow release tablets can be
designed to be environmentally friendly. Property owners can enjoy a beautiful
lawn and landscape without concerns about adverse impacts to the
For potential investors, the Water Sense irrigation system offers an
opportunity to participate in a large and growing market –
$5 billion annual lawn and garden fertilizer, herbicide and insecticide
11 million existing residential and commercial irrigation systems
665,000 new irrigation system installations per year
Conservative estimates indicate that by the third year, annual sales will reach
$1 billion with net profit of $800 million. And production of the Water Sense
system can be quickly ramped up. Other than the inserts and cartridges, it
uses existing components found in most in-ground sprinkler systems.
Since 1996, Bill Graham, owner of the Water Sense system, has installed
hundreds of residential and commercial irrigation systems in the Southeast U.S.
In his discussions with homeowners and property managers, they repeatedly
expressed their dissatisfaction with their existing lawn care service. They were
dissatisfied with the outcome, objected to the cost, or questioned whether the
service had ever been applied at all.
This encouraged him to begin development of a system that could deliver lawn
care products through an existing or newly installed irrigation system.
Keeping costs low was a priority, so was using existing technology. The Water
Sense system consists of three simple components. The Canister Manifold is
made from off-the-shelf parts and requires only 1-2 hours to assemble. The
Timer/Controller uses common electrical functions and components to control
the opening and closing of the Canisters. And Chemical Inserts can be designed
like slow dissolving chlorine tablets used in residential swimming pools.
When he knew that he had a marketable concept, Mr. Graham obtained a utility
patent from the U.S. Patent Office. By filing a utility rather than a design
patent, relatively broad claims will continue to provide patent protection for the
In pursuit of this dream, Mr. Graham has invested hundreds of thousands of
dollars from his landscaping and irrigation business to develop the prototype,
fund the research, and pay for consulting to obtain the patents.
The concept of the Water Sense system has been developed. A prototype has
been built. The patent has been obtained. The ground work has been done.
What remains, and the reason for this business plan, is to obtain the necessary
funding to take this remarkable product to market.
The initial product that will be offered by Water Sense consists of three major
Like most irrigation systems today, the Timer/Controller operates the irrigation
system by opening and closing the flow of water into the different in-ground
sprinkler zones. But in the Water Sense system it does much more. The
Timer/Controller in the Water Sense system also opens and closes individual
canisters in a Canister Manifold that dispense various environmentally friendly
The Timer/Controller user interface will provide for daily controls as well as
seasonal inputs. The Timer/Controller manages all daily watering and feeding
applications, with seasonal inputs that will limit or eliminate applications in the
winter, and increase them in the spring and summer. The Timer/Controller
allows the Water Sense system to adapt to any time or climate zone in the
Canister Manifold –
The multiple Canister Manifold consists of an array of individual canisters placed
at the source of the in-ground sprinkler zones. The opening and closing of each
canister is controlled by the Timer/Controller.
The number of canisters in the array can be as many as five or six, or as few as
one or two. Each canister will contain a Chemical Insert. Each Chemical Insert
will deliver a slow dissolving ingredient such as a fertilizer, insecticide,
herbicide, fungicide or lime application.
When the Timer/Controller calls for a
particular canister, water is directed
through the canister, and the
ingredient in that canister is
delivered in the correct amount to
the irrigation system.
Because of the many combinations
of canisters and applications,
numerous control settings are
available. Treatments can be
delivered at any desired interval of
time; over any zone of the irrigation
system. Once loaded, the system
can be left unattended for weeks
and even months at a time, all the while delivering the right amounts of water
and applications to the lawn and landscape on the property.
A simpler canister design has also been developed to dispense just one
chemical. In this design there is just one canister that is controlled by the
Timer/Controller, allowing for just one application to be dispensed at a time.
This design, referred to as the Single Canister system, will be marketed to
homeowners who are cost conscious and who only see the value of one
application for their lawn, usually fertilizer.
Chemical Inserts –
The feeding inserts are solid tablets of slow dissolving chemicals. When the
valve to a canister in the Canister Manifold is opened, water will flow through
the canister and over the surface of the Chemical Insert that has been placed
inside. As the water flows over the insert, measured amounts of natural
organics are released, delivering the prescribed treatment to the lawn and
landscape. When the valve is closed, water is drained from the canister so the
insert is kept dry and the chemical is maintained until the next use.
The composition of the Chemical Insert,
determines the application. A wide variety
of applications can be developed. These
include fertilizer, weed control, insect
controls, lime treatment, and fungus
controls. Because the Canister Manifold
contains more than one cartridge, and each
canister contains its own insert, numerous
applications can be loaded into the manifold.
In this manner, different feeding inserts can
be loaded into the system, the controller
programmed, and various applications delivered through the irrigation system
for weeks, months, or to a year with no additional effort or involvement by the
The Water Sense system takes
advantage of a process called
fertigation. Fertigation has been used
for decades in agriculture and for
maintaining golf courses. Fertigation
allows for smaller doses of fertilizer and
other treatments to be delivered over
time, eliminating growth spurts and
burned spots. The smaller amounts of
chemical that are applied with each
watering reduce the harmful effects of
runoff contamination, affects on animals
that use the yard, and burning of the grass or shrubs.
Irrigation Systems –
As homeowners and owners of commercial real estate attempt to increase the
value of their properties, the installation of irrigation systems has grown. But
increasing value will not be the only incentive. Many homeowners are
increasingly concerned about water conservation and the environment.
“Today irrigation systems are specified in building codes. They are required for
FHA homes. And their use in commercial applications, from factories to
shopping centers has grown tremendously,” says Carl Kah, CEO K-Rain
Manufacturing, River Beach Florida.
In 1999, the latest year for which reliable data could be obtained, the installed
landscape irrigation systems in the U.S. totaled $2.8 billion and had been
experiencing a 12 percent compound annual growth rate. With an assumed
growth in the intervening years of just half that rate, the current installed
systems must now total $5.0 billion.
Additional data describes the market share for four defined segments of the
market. These segments are: 1) Retail Sales to Homeowners and Contractors,
2) Professional Sales to Homeowners, 3) Professional Sales to Commercial
Properties, and 4) Professional Sales to Golf, Municipal and Sports Complexes.
With this additional information, the installed value for each of these segments
can be calculated as follows:
Irrigation Market Segments Annual Market
Retail Sales Share
Retail sales to Homeowners & Contractors $1.35 Billion 27%
Professional Sales to Homeowners $1.30 26%
Professional sales to Commercial Properties $1.40 28%
Professional Sales to Golf, Municipal & Sports $1.00 20%
Total Irrigation Market $5.00 100%
Using estimates for the average price of installed systems, it can reasonably be
assumed that there are 10 million existing residential irrigation systems (Retail
Sales to Homeowner & Contractors, and Professional Sales to Homeowners),
and 1 million commercial systems (Professional Sales to Commercial Properties,
and Professional Sales to Golf, Municipal & Sports Complexes) in the U.S.
Analysis concludes that there are approximately 560,000 new residential
irrigation installations per year. Data from 1999 states that there were
approximately 316,000 privately-owned residential irrigation projects that year.
Using a 6% compound annual growth rate, and an estimate for the price of new
installations, it is reasonable to conclude that current new installations total
563,125 per year.
And finally, a further analysis indicates that there are approximately 102,000
commercial installations per year.
Lawn Care Chemicals -
“Gardening is the No. 1 outdoor leisure activity in the United States and is
becoming more popular. Since people are more likely to garden as they get
older, demographics suggest the category is poised for continued growth,” says
Brian Day, Marketing Manager, Century Rain Aid, Madison Heights, Michigan.
The North American market for lawn chemicals to include fertilizers,
insecticides, herbicides and weed control is estimated to be $5 Billion per year.
This estimate has been developed from an analysis of public data and confirmed
by an executive with a major lawn care supplier in a conversation with Mr.
Graham. Data from 2003 shows that retail sales of fertilizers, lawn controls,
seeds and soils totaled $3.6 billion. Using a conservative 6% compound annual
growth rate, the estimate of $5 billion is justified.
Consumer Behavior -
With his many years experience working with homeowners, landscapers and
commercial real estate agents, Mr. Graham has seen and heard about the all
problems they have faced with their existing lawn and landscape care.
Given the choice of applying treatments themselves or hiring a treatment
company, most customers initially opt for doing it themselves. After a few
seasons of trial-and-error, the high cost, and the physical exertion, they either
give up or consider hiring someone to do it for them. The Scott’s Fertilizer
Company recently reported that the average consumer only applies about 1.5
out of the five recommended fertilizer treatments per year and about 50
percent of consumers walk away from the lawn controls aisle in retail outlets
without making a purchase due to confusion about the products.
But hiring a “do it for me” firm often proves to be
just as unsatisfying. The first concern is the high
cost. Then there is the issue of lack of
consistency and dependability. And finally, there
is the concern that the chemicals being used are
Issues concerning the environment have been
growing among homeowners for years. A 2008
survey by the National Gardening Association indicates that about 12 million
households use only natural products on their lawns and gardens. This is up
from 5 million households in 2004.
Mr. Graham recognized this situation as an opportunity to provide the consumer
with the knowledge and products to treat their lawns and landscape in an
environmentally friendly way without the cost and labor of doing them selves or
hiring a professional. His solution - put the treatment in their sprinkler system.
Competitive Analysis -
The competition in the “fertigation” market is limited one nationally recognized
company called Fertigator. In 1999 they introduced a product that applies
fertilizer through an irrigation system, but while the design is simple, using it is
not. The Fertigator uses a separate controller from the irrigation system to read
a timer that determines what zone is on. This controller then tells an injector
the amount of fertilizer to put on that zone. Then liquid fertilizer is drawn from
a container placed near the sprinkler head and dispensed through the system.
This poorly designed product does not provide any added convenience to the
user. If anything it is the exact opposite. Two separate controllers are needed
to run the irrigation system and only one application, fertilizer, can be applied.
Beyond “fertigation” there are a number of large, nationally known and
The “do it yourself” competitors consist of firms like Scotts that sell chemicals
and the spreaders and dispensers to apply them. Their strengths include brand
recognition, strong distribution networks and deep financial reserves.
Weaknesses include the labor required to make the applications, lack of
knowledge of the user and inconsistent results.
The “do it for me” competitors include firms like ChemLawn and Scotts, as well
as local lawn care and maintenance businesses. The strengths of the nationally
known firms include brand recognition, strong distribution networks and deep
financial reserves. Their weakness is primarily high price. The strength of the
local lawn care and mowing businesses is lower price, but they are often not
Water Sense intends to be a multi-national corporation dedicated to providing
environmentally friendly solutions to lawn and landscape problems throughout
the world. All of its products will be safe to use and environmentally friendly.
Water Sense will be a leader in promoting environmental issues in all the
markets it serves. It will transact all business in an ethical and legal manner,
respecting national and local customs and values.
All Water Sense products will meet and
exceed safety and environmental
requirements. Users of Water Sense systems
will have the confidence to know that they are
using products that is not harmful to plants,
animals or humans; that they have enhanced
the value of their property without
contaminating the land we use, the water we
drink or the air we breathe. Water Sense
products will make a difference.
The Water Sense mission is to design, build and market the best lawn and
landscape maintenance systems in the world. It will introduce systems that
irrigate, fertilize, and provide weed, insect and fungus control for lawns,
gardens and shrubs. Products will be manufactured and marketed throughout
the world, with a focus on cost control and profit maximization.
Water Sense will be a customer oriented business that strives for continuous
improvement by listening to its investors, suppliers, distributors, retailers and
end users. All products will be made with the highest quality and focus on
Management Team -
For the past 26 years Mr. William Graham has designed and installed thousands
of residential and commercial landscape irrigation systems. He has designed
and installed systems using Rainbird, Toro, Hunter, Krain drip systems, mister
systems, ducktail iron systems, hundreds of ball field’s football, baseball,
soccer, and softball fields. Mr. Graham is a licensed plumber and a preferred
contractor, irrigation designer and irrigation installation for Wal-Mart, Home
Depot, and Lowe’s stores throughout the Southeast United States
Mr. Graham is a certified licensed expert in the state of GA. He has extensive
knowledge in soils, erosion control, storm water pollution, cold trout stream and
warm natural stream mediation (level 1A certified). Many developers,
engineers, and architects in the southeast only use Mr. Graham’s services and
experiences in designing or planning projects.
Owner/Inventor: Bill Graham Graham
3232 Post Oak Dr. NW
Cleveland, TN 37311
Legal Advisers: Steve Stark Patent Attorney
Miller & Martin, LLP
832 Georgia Ave.
Chattanooga, TN 37402
With the exception of the individual canisters in the multiple Canister Manifold
system and the chemical composition of the Chemical Inserts, most of the
materials necessary to build the Water Sense system are “off the shelf”
components. For this reason, it is not anticipated that there will be any major
obstacles to production of the units. The canisters will require an initial
investment in plastic molds, and its final design will be dependent on the
dimensions of the Chemical Inserts.
Based on Mr. Graham’s experience assembling the prototype, it is anticipated
that the multiple Canister Manifold system can be assembled by a minimally
skilled worker in an hour-and-a-half. The Single Canister system can be
assembled in half-an-hour.
The primary strength of the Water Sense system is the utility patent that has
been approved for the design of its components and chemical distribution
system. It is Patent Number US 6,948,663 B1, September 27, 2005. By filing a
utility rather than a design patent, relatively broad claims will continue to
provide the patent protection required for the introduction and market
penetration of the Water Sense system.
Another strength is Mr. Graham’s background and experience in the irrigation
industry. In addition to his overall technical knowledge and experience in the
industry, he has a complete understanding of the needs of the customer.
The most obvious weakness is the lack of funding required to bring the Water
Sense system to market. Another is the need to expand the professional
management team. Both of these problems will be solved with the acceptance
of the proposal contained in this business plan.
The prime opportunity is the potential to capture a significant share of a
profitable market that is both large and growing. Because it addresses the
customer needs for affordability, ease of use, and environmental friendliness,
the Water Sense system can generate large profits for its owners and investors.
It is assumed that the primary threats will come from existing competitors in
the lawn care chemical and the irrigation system industries. These companies
may try to use their strong ties with their existing distributors and retailers to
block the entry of the Water Sense system into the market.
Product Benefits -
The benefits of the Water Sense system can be summarized with the 3 C’s:
Cost, Convenience and Control. The cost to operate the Water Sense system is
less than “do it yourself” and “do it for me” alternatives. It is convenient
because once you place the inserts in the canisters you can “set-it-and-forget-
it”. And it provides control because the system automatically delivers the right
application in the right amount at the right time.
The results are a beautiful lawn and landscape that improves property value
without harming the environment.
Marketing Strategy –
The proper marketing plan will be critical to achieving the market introduction
and subsequent penetration needed to maximize the profit potential of the
Water Sense system. It is envisioned that two marketing/distribution strategies
will yield the greatest results.
Product introductions often suffer because buyers are
hesitant to try something new. They often lack
reliable information and are confused by conflicting
claims. Therefore, marketing the Water Sense
system through respected professionals who can
overcome these obstacles makes the most sense.
The first marketing and distribution strategy therefore calls for using large
distributors of irrigation equipment to introduce the product through the supply
chain. The Water Sense system lends itself to new irrigation installations and
therefore it can be easily introduced by the installation professional as a
significant enhancement to a new installation. Over time, these professionals
will also be able to offer the Water Sense system as an upgrade to their existing
This approach involves a “push strategy” where distributors will promote the
Water Sense system to professional irrigation installers. Professional installers
will then promote the product to new and existing home and commercial
property owners. Each member in this supply chain will be motivated to “push”
the product to the next member in the supply chain because of the new sales
opportunity and increased financial return they will receive.
In this strategy, awareness of the new product will be created through a direct
sales force that will make calls on distributors and by attending trade shows
targeting installation professionals. As each member in the supply chain gains
confidence in the product, they will be able to explain the value and benefits of
the Water Sense system to the next member; overcoming any reluctance to
make the purchase.
A second marketing/distribution strategy will involve selling the Water Sense
system through large retailers such as Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe’s.
This strategy need to address the strong relationships that these retailers have
with existing suppliers such as Scotts and Rain-Bird, as these supplies will
potentially view the Water Sense system as a competitor.
To overcome this obstacle, direct appeals to potential customers will need to be
made so that demand for the product is created among home and commercial
property owners. They will then demand that the product be put on the shelves
of the retailers.
This “pull strategy” will begin with a promotional and advertising campaign that
includes creating a web site where customers can get information and buy the
product directly, by appearing on television shows such as QVC and Home
Shopping Network, and by demonstrations at local and regional home and
garden exhibitions attended by the public.
Once a customer has a Water Sense system installed, the Chemical Inserts will
be sold through a number of channels. They can be ordered over the internet,
through the mail and sold in retail outlets. They can also be automatically sent
to customers in the form of a subscription service that meets the needs of their
particular region of the country.
Chemical Insert Market –
The North American market for lawn chemicals to include fertilizers,
insecticides, herbicides and weed control is estimated to be $5 billion per year.
The Water Sense market forecast assumes that by the 24th month after
introduction, it will have captured 15% of this market. This equates to $750
million per year.
Stated another way, this will be 4,167,000 chemical inserts sold per month;
generating $62,500,000 in sales per month at a retail price of $15 per insert.
Water Sense Retrofits of Existing Irrigation Systems –
With 10 million existing residential irrigation systems and 1 million commercial
irrigations system installed in the U.S., market penetration over a 5 year period
is forecast as follow:
15% of the existing residential systems will retrofit to the Single
Canister system and 5% will retrofit to the multiple Canister Manifold
system. This will result in 1,500,000 residential retrofits of the Single
Canister system, and 500,000 residential retrofits of the multiple
Canister Manifold system.
15% of the commercial systems will retrofit to the multiple Canister
Manifold system. This will result in 100,000 commercial system
retrofits of the multiple Canister Manifold system.
It will take 5 years to fully reach these penetration rates for irrigation
systems that are already installed.
The plan further assumes that it will take 24 months after the market
introduction to reach the monthly rate of retrofits required to reach the
market penetration targets of 15%, 5% and 10% over a 5 year period.
The following chart summarizes the market penetration and potential for the
already installed segment of the irrigation market:
Existing Irrigation Product Market Retrofit
Systems Penetration Systems
Residential Single 15% 1,500,000
10 Million Canister
Multiple 5% 500,000
Commercial Multiple 10% 100,000
1 Million Canister
New water Sense System Installations –
With 563,124 new residential installations and 102,000 new commercial
installations per year, market penetration is forecast as follows:
20% of the new residential systems will install the Single Canister
system, and 5% will install the multiple Canister Manifold system.
This will result in a total of 112,625 new residential installations of the
Single Canister system, and 28,156 new residential installations of the
multiple Canister Manifold system per year.
15% of the new commercial systems will install the multiple Canister
Manifold system. This will result in a total of 10,200 new commercial
installations of the multiple Canister Manifold system per year.
The plan once again assumes that it will take 24 months after the
market introduction to reach the monthly penetration rates 15%, 5%
and 10% for new installations.
The following chart summarizes the market penetration and potential for the
new installation segment of the irrigation market:
New Irrigation Product Market New Systems
Systems per Year Penetration per Year
Residential Single 20% 112,625
Multiple 5% 28,156
Commercial Multiple 10% 10,200
Total New and Retrofit Water Sense Installations –
By the 24th month there will be 608,542 Water Sense systems installed.
Using the estimating process described above, it is assumed that by the 24th
month of operation that there will be 34,385 new and retrofit monthly
installations of the Single Canister system, and 13,196 new and retrofit monthly
installations of the multiple Manifold Canister system. Given an average price of
$20 for the Single Canister system and $1,400 for the multiple Manifold
Canister system, this will generate a total of $687,708 in monthly Single
Canister system sales, and $18,474,896 in multiple Manifold Canister system
Final Product and Installation & Testing -
Patent protection is in place, a working prototype is in place, financial
projections are in place, and the outline of a marketing plan has been
developed. Engineering is in place. The next step is to finalize the Canisters
and Chemical Inserts. There is ample date available as to the feeding
composition and concentrations needed for the Chemical Inserts and the design
of the Canisters will automatically follow.
The Proposal -
The Water Sense irrigation system is a product that will change the irrigation
and lawn care industry forever. Today’s market provides a unique opportunity
for this product to be introduced. It meets the needs of retail consumers and
lawn care professionals. The potential for growth and profit far exceed the
limited initial investment.
This favorable environment will not last forever. Now is the perfect time to
invest and place this product on the market and reap its financial benefits.