pme recently interviewed Ohio-based Mansfield Plumbing President Jim Morando. In his ninth year at the helm of the toilet and plumbing manufacturer company, Morando discusses such topics as the company’s philosophy and its commitment to manufacturing American-made products.
pme: How has being a U.S.-based manufacturer helped Mansfield Plumbing move forward as a company?
JM: Our theory is when we control the whole process we win. This means we need to invest in all the parts and pieces of the products we produce. While we don’t necessarily want to be in the tank-rim business, we never want to be in the position of being unable to ship a toilet because we don’t have a $4 piece of tank trim. So, to fulfill our customer commitment we make each piece to control the process.
In terms of realizing true benefits from efficiency, we financed our 2013-2014 sanitaryware expansion costing $10 million with a reduction in working capital. This shows the benefits of an efficient supply chain touches all aspects of our business. This expansion increased our capacity by 50% and was the largest one in the United States in more than 25 years. Our commitment to this growth has enabled Mansfield to continue growing with our aligned partners.
As a bonus, our Made in the USA products mean we’re providing more jobs to American workers. Plus, we’re helping lower the carbon footprint vs. those sanitaryware products made and shipped from China and other locations.
pme: What does “Made for Real Life” mean to Mansfield Plumbing?
JM: It identifies what we do best. We’re easy to work with, our products are made in America and we have fast fulfillment/delivery. In essence, our products and services are made for real-life situations and we offer them in a simple, straightforward way to the marketplace.
pme: How is Mansfield moving forward with water conservation initiatives?
JM: Mansfield has a broad assortment of 1.0- and 1.28-gpf toilets that support water-conservation efforts. We just added the Brentwood HET with 1.28 gpf this year and we’re continuing to look at the development of new products that fulfill the needs of our customers who request water-efficient products.
pme: Do you see an increase in green/water/energy conservation efforts in the industry?
JM: We view water-conservation efforts as more than just a trend. Environmental initiatives are the way of the future for our industry. Enhanced flushing performance with less water consumption is definitely a continued high-focus area in our industry and for our company. The days of inefficient and wasteful water usage are gone. The preference in today’s marketplace is for toilets with 1.28 gpf or lower. I believe key changes will take place in the coming years with all manufacturers working to accommodate this movement.
pme: What market sectors are you seeing the biggest growth in?
JM: Commercial housing growth is steadily increasing after some bad years. With that growth we’re seeing the need in the marketplace to get sanitaryware and bathware quickly for projects. That’s the area where we shine. By shipping full truckload orders of American-made products in seven business days we can get our customers products immediately so plumber and builder customers can move forward quickly with their projects.
pme: What bathroom trends are you seeing in the industry?
JM: When 2015 started I said continued focus on water conservation, increased consumer conveniences and faster delivery of product would be top trends this year. I still believe that’s the case and these will continue to be top areas of focus in 2016.
Another issue gaining more traction this year is builders want faster access to sanitaryware and bathware products. Waiting weeks to get a toilet or tub after ordering is unrealistic and aggravating. There’s a need for faster service in our industry. That doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. It means manufacturers must respond to marketplace needs by providing quality products in a timely manner that help installers save time and money plus reduce expensive call-backs.
pme: What new product/technology developments are on the horizon for Mansfield Plumbing?
JM: We launched the MicroDerm tub that silently infuses bathwater with millions of micro-bubbles to help a bather relax, unwind and feel rejuvenated. This is a completely unique bathing experience that allows tiny oxygen-rich bubbles to burst quietly on the skin to help clean and hydrate while exfoliating the skin’s outermost layer.
We’re also working on several new products for 2016 around the initiatives of water conservation, cleanliness, performance and style. Innovations and constant product development definitely are on our agenda for the coming years.