Hansgrohe takes time to reflect, look forward after 25 years of business in North America
Quarter pole for Hansgrohe NA.
It has been a milestone year for Hansgrohe.
In 2013, the bath and kitchen manufacturer reached many new benchmarks, including 10 years of its Raindance showerhead, 15 years of Hansgrohe China, 20 years of its partnership with renowned designer Phillipe Starck and 40 years of Hansgrohe Spain.
And on a surprisingly warm October day in New York City, Deputy CEO Richard Grohe and other Hansgrohe employees came to the Flatiron Hall in Chelsea to celebrate 25 years of Hansgrohe North America.
Hansgrohe entered the North American market in 1988 and in 1996 made the commitment to manufacture products in a 50,000-sq.-ft.-facility in Alpharetta, Ga. Hansgrohe has 250 employees in the Atlanta suburb plant and Grohe is pleased the company can send its high-quality American-made products abroad.
“America is not only a market for us, but we produce here too,” Grohe said. “We export American-made products to Germany, Turkey and China. That’s something I’m personally proud of.”
Grohe said Hansgrohe, which currently does approximately $1.8 billion in total sales, $103 million in North America, strives to create the best shower experience possible for an end user because a shower is the key to a person’s day.
“One way or another the shower decides your day,” he said. “Most good ideas come in the shower. The idea for what became the Hubble telescope was created in the shower. We want to have the best showers to generate the best ideas.”
Grohe discussed Hansgrohe’s Spray Lab where the company strives to find the perfect water drop. Sticking with the shuttle theme in the Spray Lab, Hansgrohe has tested a zero-gravity shower for space shuttles and space stations.
“We tested it, but the shuttle market is a little small right now,” Grohe said with a chuckle.
Working through the wholesale distribution market has been beneficial for Hansgrohe since the beginning of its business dealings in North America. Currently, North America is the fourth-largest market for Hansgrohe, but Grohe believes that is ready to change.
“It’s been an important market for us,” Grohe said. “Growth has been very good. It’s been a steady path, especially since we’re producing in the U.S. We have good distributors, a good team and good products. The recipes for further success are there.”
Customer appreciation party
Later that evening, Hansgrohe held a customer appreciation party and Jalila Erregragui, a wholesale manager for New York- and New Jersey-based AF Supply, spoke highly on how Hansgrohe stands behind its products.
“They are one of our most supportive vendors,” she said. “They service their products very well.”
Errgragui believes Hasngrohe’s iBox has been an important piece for AF Supply’s customers selecting Hansgrohe products. The iBox can accommodate any trim and provide the foundation (thermostatic or pressure-balanced) for any shower system.
“From showerheads to handheld units, any style you pick will work with iBox,” she said. “It’s a unique technology.”
Commercial projects have been a growing trend for Hansgrohe and the company has adjusted accordingly.
“The commercial market is going to become more important,” Grohe said, “especially because of the aging population. We’re moving our products to more universal design.”
Specialty commercial markets have been critical for the company as well. “In many markets, we’re No. 1. For example, Hansgrohe is No. 1 in the cruise-ship market,” Grohe said. “We always come from the higher price point so there are some markets which are really interesting in the U.S.”
Grohe is optimistic the company will have more exciting news to report at Hansgrohe’s 50th anniversary party.
“I hope in the next 25 years Hansgrohe North America is well-situated and just behind China. I think the U.S. market is tremendous market with a lot of opportunities,” he said.