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MANDEVILLE, LA — If you’re battling  acid reflux or gout, entrepreneur Rick Johnston says he can help you.  He hopes you’ll stop by one of his Ion Alkaline Water stores and try some. In fact, he calls it a challenge.

“Come in and say, ‘I want to take your challenge.’ We’ll give you a free jug and free refills.”

Johnston retired from the construction business in Hawaii where he says he had a crew of more than 5,000 workers.  His wife is from the New Orleans area, so when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he brought her back home.

“They gave my wife a 98% chance of dying.  When she turned down chemotherapy and radiation, it went to 100,” Johnstons says.

He says his wife had surgery and changed her diet while also drinking the alkaline water.  He says she’s been cancer free for five years.

Johnstson says he’s a brainiac who loves to experiment, and that’s how he learned to make his water.  His company, Ion Alkaline Water, makes an alkaline water product and another called Stealth Water.

“The alkaline water has a different water molecule structure.  We shrink it to a third, hydrates you six to eight times faster than anything that you can put in your body.”

Johnston says his other product, Stealth Water, can significantly improve athletic performance and is used by everyone from professional athletes to navy seals.

“We take sports guys and break their own records.  That’s our guarantee with the Stealth unit.  You’ll break your own record or we’ll give you your money back,” Johnstons says with a confident smile.  “We’ve never had to do that!”

Johnston says the water cannot be bottled; it must be consumed fresh.  Not only does he sell the water at his six stores in Louisiana, but he also sells the machines that make it.  Some models are for home use while others are for gyms and other professional venues.  He even makes a machine for horses.  The machines start at about $3,000.

The machines have platinum and titanium chambers that are used to create the alkaline and Stealth waters.  For now, the machines are being made in South Korea, but by September, he hopes to move all production to Mandeville.

“We know the demand that’s there now. I put 160 units on a plane. 157 were sold before it got here,” he said.

Outside of Louisiana, Johnston says he currently is in the process of opening 25 more stores in California, Arizona, Florida, Alabama, and Indiana.

Also this fall, Johnston hopes to make an appearance on the ABC hit show Shark Tank so that he can make his pitch to the cast members.  He says he’d like to partner with one or more of them who can help him expand his company.

But he also has a second mission, cutting down on pollution.  He says too many drinks are purchased and served in plastic bottles.

“By 2050, there will be more bottles in the ocean than fish, and that just hurts me.”

If you’d like to take Johnston up on his offer to try the water for free, he has stores in the New Orleans area in Mandeville, Slidell, and Uptown on Magazine Street.