October 2006 marks the 100th anniversary for Sloan Valve Co., a family-owned company that manufactures plumbing products and accessories for commercial, industrial and institutional markets worldwide.

To commemorate reaching this significant landmark, the Franklin Park, IL-based company has released a special addition to its manual Flushometer product line: The new Royal Classic™. This model is a replica of the Royal Flushometer from 1906, designed with the original Royal's bell-like top and white, porcelain handle, as well as all the modern-day technological updates. (See New Products for a product write-up.)

Sloan also is planning celebrations to honor its anniversary, including an employee picnic and other private events.

In 1906, William E. Sloan, company founder and inventor of the Flushometer, introduced his first model of the Royal® Flushometer. However, when it debuted, plumbers were reluctant to forego their tank-type toilets and try the new technology. Yet, Sloan persevered with his idea. Today, the basic design remains essentially the same, and according to the company, the Royal is the most widely specified flush valve on the market, with millions of units sold and installed in facilities worldwide.

"Sloan Valve Co. has enjoyed a long history of providing quality, innovative products to the plumbing industry-from the introduction of the first Flushometer in 1906 to today's full line of both manual and sensor-operated Flushometers and faucets and other water- and energy-conserving plumbing systems,"

Company headquarters are in Franklin Park, IL. Opened in 1971, this facility encompasses 400,000 sq. ft.

Expanding Focus

From its headquarters and factory, which have remained in the Chicago area, as well as from its foundries in Arkansas and China, Sloan has continued its focus on Flushometers over the years, while also branching out into other plumbing product segments.

Although the company developed sensor-operated fixtures before the 1980s, that's when the technology really began to take off. Sensor-operated faucets and Flushometers fit well with the water conservation movement. In recent years, Sloan has extended its water conservation push with the introduction of products such as its water-free urinals, 0.5 gpf urinal Flushometers and other low-consumption Flushometers, which can help facilities save money and achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) points.

Sloan also has emphasized energy conservation with its SOLIS solar-powered faucet and energy-efficient XLerator hand dryer. Sloan Valve also invented pressure-assist toilet technology, an alternative to older gravity-fed toilets, which is now offered as part of the FLUSHMATE division and sold within toilets available from various manufacturers.

Founder William E. Sloan.

Founder's Facts

William Elvis Sloan invented the Flushometer and founded Sloan Valve Co. in 1906, but his plumbing-related career began many years before. Born in 1867 in Liberty, MO, Sloan served as an apprentice pipefitter before traveling to Chicago and becoming a foreman, superintendent, and finally, an independent contractor.

Through intense self-education, Sloan developed a superior knowledge of electrical circuitry and hydraulics. In 1906, he established Sloan Valve and introduced the Royal Flushometer, which offered many benefits over toilet tanks in commercial structures, such as saving water and maintenance and virtually eliminating recycling time between flushes. These benefits came with a somewhat higher initial cost because the pipe size of the branch line supplying the fixture had to be larger than that required for a toilet tank. Also, plumbers were afraid to install Flushometers because they knew nothing about them, and architects would not specify them for the same reason.

That first year, Sloan sold one Flushometer. The next year, he sold two. In the third year, he sold 150, and from then on, sales shot upward. The reason: Whenever a building engineer would permit, Sloan would install the Royal Flushometer for demonstration and let him see the savings and benefits for himself. The flush valve proved so much better than the toilet tank that the trade began to relax its opposition.

Sloan also developed piston-type Flushometers. Over the years, the original Royal was joined by the Star, the Crown, the Gem and the Naval, as well as automatic urinal flushing systems and the Act-O-Matic showerhead. Overall, Sloan made 64 inventions during his lifetime. He died in 1961 at age 93.