The SaveMoneyCutCarbon team had a rare chance to find out what makes partner Hansgrohe a unique phenomenon on a visit to its Black Forest headquarters recently.
We are an official distributor of Hansgrohe’s full range of quality, and spares at extremely competitive prices and have installed thousands of its products in properties across the UK which allows us to pass on to our customers detailed product knowledge and the best possible advice.
I went with three colleagues for a two-day session to get under the skin of one of the most successful bathroom and sanitary specialists in the world, spending quality time at the facilities which are still based in the small town of Schiltach.
That fact in itself is something quite special – Schiltach is where company founder Hans Grohe set up a metal pressing plant to begin manufacturing showers in 1901. The three-man company in the Kinzigtal valley has since grown into a global operation and market leader for mixers and showers.
What we saw during our busy time in the Black Forest was very impressive indeed. We had already learned a great deal in our working relationship so the face-to-face sessions with the Hansgrohe team added even more detailed knowledge.
Hansgrohe has a global workforce of around 3,500, with two-thirds of employees based in Germany. From what we witnessed, it’s clear that the company’s promoted values are taken very seriously and are a core reason why the company is so successful in its chosen field.
The pursuit of perfection – the “zero error principle” – demands that a culture of quality is embedded at every level of the company with an astonishing attention to detail throughout the design and production processes.
Allied to optimum production values is the belief in ethical and sustainable processes, as well as the constant search for innovation, a hallmark of Hansgrohe since its inception, which has seen the creation of the hand shower, the shower wall bar – now ubiquitous all around the world – and a host of other market-transforming inventions, not least the renowned EcoSmart water-saving technology.
These ground-breaking developments are dramatically depicted at the Aquademie, an inspiring public exhibition at the company’s HQ, that weaves an impressive narrative of ethics and sustainability around the Hansgrohe and luxury Axor brands.
We also had the chance to watch the production process at the Faucet Factories, which illuminated the detail of how the company blends high-tech, environmentally-friendly manufacturing with the “hand-made”, that expert craftsmanship which makes such a difference to the achievement of top-quality products. Hansgrohe has a simple definition of quality; it is when “when the customer comes back and the product doesn’t”.
Quality control is central to all aspects of the production process and the company holds the international quality standard ISO 9001 certification, with regular system inspections. The responsibility for quality is given to every member of the workforce, reinforced by not only full basic training but also further training throughout the time the staff stay with Hansgrohe.
And the company has built a strong reputation for keeping its workers over many years, meaning that precious knowledge and expertise is not only retained but also passed on to new staff. Hansgrohe is passionate about offering full apprenticeships and other job opportunities to the young people of Schiltach, encouraging them to stay and make their lives as part of a vibrant community.
We saw that expertise at first hand in the tap making process, seeing end-to-end how blocks of brass are transformed into products that gleam with quality design and uniqueness, while the company makes sure that its commitment to the recycling processes and environmentally-friendly technologies is maintained.
The technological savvy that allows the company to recycle the water it uses in the testing and production processes is also very apparent in the Spray Lab at Hansgrohe HQ and the production facility at nearby Offenburg.
At the Spray Lab we saw exactly how much effort and ingenuity is employed in the pursuit of the “perfect spray”, where employees manipulate water flows in all kinds of ways to test the look and feel of a potential product. At Offenburg we learned how 70 separate elements, all manufactured in-house go into the construction of the Hansgrohe showers.
And the company’s latest offering – the new Croma shower range complements the Hansgrohe trendsetting technologies for environmentally-friendly use of water. The Croma E and Croma S range includes hand showers, overheads, shower sets, porter sets, and shower pipes.
At the same time, Hansgrohe is offering the new Crometta 100 range to ensure appeal to the widest range of customers.
The new generation of Croma showers also reflect the company’s strong commitment to design and development based on customer feedback and new customer requests with the integration of the unique Select button functionality, so successful in other Hansgrohe shower products.
The new ranges are a clear expression of all the excellent commitments we witnessed during our visit to Germany – a blend of highest quality in design and manufacturing, built with respect, skill and belief in best environmental practices.