How becoming a water expert saved one struggling dad

Doran Binder is a self-appointed water sommelier and the founder of Crag Spring Water. Here he tells us how it helped turn his life around.

crag spring water business


Tell us about how you founded Crag Spring Water?

Crag Spring Water came at the perfect moment in my life. I was going through a marriage breakup which involved me moving out of the family home, but I really wanted to live/stay close to our children. I searched for a long time and couldn’t find a suitable house. I came across an old English pub that had been on the market and I decided to put in an offer under the asking price.

At the time, I was working away from home in America quite a lot and the pub was basically a home for me to live in when I was in the UK. I knew that the pub had been struggling for years, I had no intention of becoming a landlord, but I thought I would give it 12 months before I made any decisions on what to do with it.

Six months after I bought the pub, I invited Blair Water to do the annual water safety checks. I was dreading the results as I thought it may bring up something that would end up being costly for me to fix, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  When the results came back, I was told that the aquifer running underneath the pub contained some of the best quality spring water they had analysed. They advised me to quit my ‘day job’ and invest my time and money into bottling and selling the spring water, which is exactly what I did. And here I am today, the founder and owner of a new spring water brand. The journey I have been on has completely changed my life.

How difficult has it been?

When you find your passion in life, difficulties are merely challenges that need to be solved so when it comes to business, I never see any difficulties. Obviously, the way I stumbled upon the Crag Inn came from a difficult situation, the breakdown of a relationship is never easy on anyone. I find solace in the fact that through that difficult time I have found my true purpose in life.

I’m a true believer that things happen for a reason, I was supposed to buy that pub at that time and in the process find a passion that can also provide a living for me and my children. Not to mention allowing me to live in such spectacular surroundings.

You’re a dad of six, how do you juggle them and work?

Three of my boys live with me and are completely invested in the business, they help out and I show them how to run things here. I think it’s important for them to share my passion for the business, so I don’t view it as a case of juggling. We all pitch in, and we spend lots of quality time together in the process.

My other three children, sadly, I do not see as much as I would like to. There is nothing I would love more than for them to be a bigger part of this and my life. It’s one of the only sources of sadness in my life but my way of coping with that is to focus on the glass being half full and not half empty. Crag Spring Water and the Bearded Water Sommelier have given me a passion that helps me to keep disciplined and focused. As long as my children all know they are loved that’s all I can do for now.

What would be your recommendation to dads out there thinking they’re on the wrong path?

My advice is to be open to opportunities that life throws at you. If you’d have said to me five years ago that I’d be living in the countryside bottling and selling water, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’d have probably laughed, but I’m living proof that you should listen to your gut.

I knew very little about water at the time I started Crag Spring Water, but I had great trust in Blair Water and I took the advice of the company’s managing director Richard Taylor seriously. He’s an expert in his industry so to ignore him would have been a mistake. It was a gut reaction; I knew he was right and it has been proven so in the process of bringing Crag Spring Water to market. You could look back and think it was naivety on my part, but my gut instinct was 100% correct.

This is not a dress rehearsal, this is it, this is our one shot at life. GIVE IT YOUR ALL. And look for reasons to succeed rather than excuses to fail.

Show your children that even in the darkest moments you never gave in or stopped working hard to find your passion. I have had 30-odd career paths before I found what I was looking for. It does not come on a plate; you have to find it and work at it. And if you fail, you have to keep trying. Eventually you will find success.

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