By Patricia Lenius

Issue: 8/02

Nearly 101 years to the date of its founding, family-owned Chicago Faucet Co. of Des Plaines, IL, has been acquired by The Geberit Group, headquartered in Jona, Switzerland. The acquisition was effective July 9, 2002. Albert C. Brown, founder of Chicago Faucet, started his business July 12, 1901.

Keith Kramer, president/CEO of Geberit Manufacturing in the United States and based in Michigan City, IN, will now head all of Geberit's North American operations, including Chicago Faucet Co.

Kramer succeeds Alan Lougee, former president of Chicago Faucet Co., who will remain a consultant to the company for the next two years and is expected to pursue other opportunities. Lougee is the great-grandson of the company's founder. Several other family members who had served on the board of Chicago Faucet will be replaced by members of Geberit's board.

The acquisition includes all four manufacturing plants operated by Chicago Faucet, including the one in Des Plaines; Starline Manufacturing, Milwaukee, WI; Synapse, Huntsville, AL; and Duffin Manufacturing, Cleveland, OH, said Suzanne Shaw, director of marketing at Chicago Faucet. Starline, Duffin and Synapse are wholly owned subsidiaries of Chicago Faucet.

In an interesting twist, Kramer had been president of Starline Manufacturing just prior to joining Geberit in August 2001. Lougee, as president of Chicago Faucet Co., had overseen operations in all four locations.

The 400 employees of Chicago Faucet (including all four locations) will continue with business as usual, and Chicago Faucet will remain in its Des Plaines headquarters and will retain its name.

Geberit said it intends to integrate the two companies' sales and distribution networks.

Chicago Faucet's products can be found primarily in schools, laboratories, hospitals, office buildings, food service operations, airports and sports facilities. The company reported sales of $70 million for fiscal 2001.

Geberit's North American operations include a manufacturing and sales operation in Michigan City, IN; a sales and distribution facility for polyethylene piping systems in Atlanta; and a distribution center in Canada. The Geberit Group operates companies in the United States, Canada, China and Singapore.

In the United States, Geberit produces an in-wall concealed tank flushing system for wall-mounted toilets, a line of hands-free, infrared faucets, and various bath waste and overflow products.

The Geberit Group will combine its existing product line with Chicago Faucet's line to form a broader range of offerings to the commercial plumbing market.

Geberit's Michigan City, IN, facility has about 55 employees. Worldwide, the company employs a staff of about 4,600 people.

Patricia Lenius is Managing Editor of Supply House Times, PME's sister publication.