It started with a mission-minded philosophy, and while its co-founder says the thinking remains in tact, Milwaukee-based Stonehouse Water Technologies has evolved in its half-decade of existence.

“We’re pretty unique,” said Hensley Foster, president of Stonehouse Water Technologies. “We think we’ve got a good product.”

Foster, a retired engineer with an extensive business background, established the company in December 2012 with Anne Wick, a registered nurse specializing in education and infection control.

From the get-go, Stonehouse has focused its efforts on creating purification systems designed to improve drinking water supplies across the globe. The company’s efforts, however, have broadened in the years since Stonehouse was first founded.

“This area really is the Silicon Valley of water.”

“When we started, we were looking at Third World countries because there’s a huge market there,” Foster said. “But we’re also looking at domestic needs. There’s another market we’ve got to address, and it’s closer.”

The outgrowth of Stonehouse’s more recent efforts has come by way of a new product known as the WaterPOD 8, which is targeted towards three primary markets — new home construction, property owners with private wells and agriculture.

WaterPOD 8, which is going to market this spring, is being sold for less than $6,000.

The new offering has been touted by Stonehouse representatives for its compactness — the equivalent of a dehumidifier — alongside its robust capabilities. The product, according to the company, has the capacity to purify enough water to satisfy an entire household.

Foster said Stonehouse is a natural fit for Milwaukee, where efforts are underway to position the city as the freshwater capital of the world because of its ready supply of Lake Michigan’s natural resources.

“This area really is the Silicon Valley of water,” Foster said.

In a nod to the city’s swelling freshwater industry, Stonehouse has taken up residence within a development known as the Global Water Center, which is run by a number of partners, including the Water Council, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences and Marquette University.

While Foster said he is pleased with Stonehouse’s early success — a scenario best represented by the company’s recent announcement of $1.55 million in funding — the co-founder said none of the upward trajectory would be possible without the team he has in place.

Stonehouse currently employs eight professionals, and the company hopes to add to its workforce this year in response to the new funding.

“We’ve been very fortunate to build this incredible team of experts,” Foster said. “We’ve got the best of the best. They’ve been the backbone of this organization.”

While much of the company’s current efforts have been focused on WaterPOD 8, Foster said he sees boundless possibilities on the horizon.

“We look at this as just the beginning of some really cool, new technology,” he said. “We think we’re sitting right on top of it.”