Building Moxie Tours American Standard Brands New Product Design Center :: History, Innovation & More
(And ummm… it’s hard to believe I only use the word “Potty” once)
Part 1 of this two-part article can be found here > The Standard the Story and the Sticking to It
But let’s look at where they have been, and we discussed this standing in front of the *monster truck voice* Wall of History. “Some of the information we have is anecdotal,” Head of Design, Gray Uhl admits. But we know American Standard is rooted in the 1870s when five manufacturers teamed around the name, “Standard Sanitary Manufacturing Company.”
Finally claiming the name “American Standard” in 1967, and pooled — the company boasts 130-years of innovation and firsts. American Standard was responsible for the first (widely-distributed) cast iron sink (1929). They were responsible for introducing colors (and fight back that eye roll) to the bathroom. (An Aside: We did see a single bone potty on our tour, but it was apparent that this relic was only present for use in testing.)
In 1968, they introduced the first line of faucets fitted with ceramic disc valves. (Another Aside: Hmmm… a no maintenance faucet . . . Nice!) Earlier this year, the company was the first to release a No-Tools Toilet. And Oh Yeah! Let’s not forget the no-touch “herinal” (my term). Yes, another first, and it is surprising to me, as a man, that this little gem didn’t catch on. (That was sarcasm there, and it is a fun little fact enjoyed even by the Am Stand team.)
In the Showroom Utilitarian Workhorse & Modern Meet
While the history forms the basis for what we know of American Standard, a workhorse, utilitarian . . . maybe. We found ourselves standing in a showroom featuring many contemporary offerings, but all on movable/removable and replaceable displays. Changing technology and transitions in styling require the company to remain responsive. Add to this, and as Gray puts it, they find themselves now on the “bleeding edge” of water conservation.
He continues, “Consumers are demanding more and more performance on less and less water.” Our tour revealed the company’s own commitment to Water Sense . . . specifically on all *new* toilets. “Wait! Water Sense — Whatdja mean?” Well, the current flush standard is set at 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf), you may know this . . . but the EPA’s newest Water Sense standard is targeting an even more modest 1.28gpf. America Standard is manufacturing to this standard even prior to the requirement by law. (And Yet Another Aside: More leading-edge thinking?)
While they are focused on “saving” water, they appear mindful too of the growing interest in multi-generational design (aka Universal Design). With the acquisition of Safety Tubs, and while some (Andie Day) really perked up, the company is conscious to build these elements into products across all categories. (Pssst. Look for a strong movement toward low- to no-threshold shower products.)
Speed ConnectTM Drains
But always mindful of keeping things safe, clean, healthy . . . in chrome – the new black, they say . . . for both families and for the environment, Gray drops this – “Consumers really want problems solved . . . .” He continues, “But the expectation is that bath products will last forever.” And as we stood next to a second of the showroom’s two “working walls,” and on our way to the belly of the lab, we found the Speed ConnectTM Drain prominently featured. Here, Gray asked how my recent install went. (I had told Gray earlier about the use of American Standard‘s Enfield Collection in our hall bath.)
“I didn’t install it (the drain). But, I didn’t hear anything,” I said. His response, in his now-expected and very enthusiastic manner — “Good! This is a Win!” And as if we struck gold, he goes on, “It (plumbing) should just ‘quietly work’ . . . and you want it installed without a second thought.” And here it hits me — maybe this speaks a little to their brand identity: utilitarian . . . quiet . . . geeky. hmmmm … Maybe? Found here – on our way to “the back of the house.”
I mean — this is a company that builds to highest of standards, a company that produces products that are still hand-wiped with a sponge. Smart though, looking to other industries for solutions. Case in point, that’s automotive cable employed in the Speed Connect. (And if I told you about the modeling technology being used in their toilet design process, they might bring me back up . . . for a “swim” in the Hudson. << And yes, that’s a (bad) joke.)
For More Information: Installing a Centerset Bath Faucet with a Speed Connect popup for my dad’s Basement Bath. Here’s the associated video.
& Some Futuristic Stuff
Urinals, yes – we saw plenty (and again maybe in another post) but “utilitarian” – I don’t know, standing in the Piscataway, New Jersey showroom it didn’t feel like it. Sure the lab speaks science (to the tradepeeps and to the do-it-yourselfers), but the designer in me saw and heard some bold statements. There were several vignettes featuring integrated elements, efficiency-makers/space-savers. We saw the use of wall space with wall-hung, dual-flush (<< smart!) toilets as well as furniture providing ample storage. “Quiet”? . . . hmmm . . . I don’t know — Rich from Adroyt and I sure had fun playing with the iphone-like electronics on this Jado faucet.
What I should expect from American Standard? “Geeky”? . . . hmmmm . . . OK, maybe . . . but you know what they say about geeky . . . it’s kinda like the new gold.
“Is American Standard the oldest plumbing product manufacturer?”
But the question did come up early.
As American Standard grew initially from a partnering of manufacturers . . . so too do they continue to grow, perhaps mirroring that early strategy, by adding elements like Safety Tubs, as well as the luxury lines Jado and Porcher. Gray could not claim the distinction when asked; he believed Porcher was in fact older. . . and well . . . . And these additions may work not only to expand an already rich heritage, but they also, very apparently, add breadth to an already diverse product array.
Whew, I hope that wasn’t too much overwriting, but there is a ton to share. I still might have a (nerdy) post on toilets brewing, but I probably should spend some time trying to tell you a little bit about Kentucky and GE Appliances and some other things too. I will mention that all my expenses were paid on this trip, but the opinions are mine – and I hope they were all presented fairly. Thanks for reading.
And Oh! Happy 4th of July all! Be safe and enjoy. ~jb