Globe Union is one of the largest suppliers of plumbing products in the world. Headquartered in Taichung, Taiwan, it oversees an impressive 5 million square feet of manufacturing, assembly and distribution facilities located on three continents and in nine countries.
Closer to home, it is easily recognized by the Woodridge, Ill.-based Gerber Plumbing Fixtures and the Gerber brand — a standalone subsidiary offering plumbing fixtures, faucets and fittings to the residential, commercial and hospitality construction markets.
Committed to elevating its processes and building upon its brands to better serve its customers, Globe Union named Todd Talbot as its new CEO in May 2019. Talbot has spent more than 30 years in the PHCP industry and understands the importance of relationships and branding.
Recently, it acquired Namce Mfg., a vitreous china manufacturer based out of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico. The acquisition provides growth opportunities for the Gerber Plumbing Fixtures brand by increasing vitreous china capacity in North America and diversifying the company’s supply base. The company continues to keep a keen eye on expansion possibilities that will help its customers and optimize its production to ensure product availability and ease of distribution.
“The acquisition of Namce reduces lead time as it provides an established, successful manufacturing plant closer to its core North American market,” says Tony Favilla, vice president of sales and marketing at Gerber Plumbing Fixtures. “It will support growth into the supplementary segments of the market.”
Gerber is known as a plumbing-trade-focused brand built upon quality and reliability. To provide further value to its customers, it is expanding its outreach to other markets.
“We are making an ambitious effort to diversify our footprint in other vertical segments of the market — from multifamily and hospitality, to further establishing ourselves in the decorative space,” says Favilla. “One of the first things Todd said to us as a group was, ‘It’s time to grow.’ and he’s giving us the tools and the bandwidth to do just that.”
Favilla, with three decades in the plumbing industry, joined Gerber three years ago and is energized on the heightened growth and focus the company is implementing for a stronger, more product-dominant position in the marketplace.
“It truly is an exciting time to be with the company. There is a clear and shared motivation to enhance what we do across the board. From operations and product development, to communications & marketing and customer service, we are seizing every opportunity to take it to the next level,” says Favilla.
That concentrated mentality is manifested in the integration of the decorative brass brand Danze into the Gerber brand family in late 2019.
“The Gerber brand has strong equity in the market,” says Keith Yurko, CEO of Gerber Plumbing Fixtures. “The strategic shift to a single brand will align with the positioning of Gerber as a decorative solution with inspired designs and a reputation for innovative, reliable performance — all at an exceptional value to the market.”
With a strong focus on decorative products, Gerber will continue to display sophisticated and inspired designs with vignettes showcasing accessible price points and an expanded line of materials. “As we evolve, we are elevating the Gerber brand, providing products that feature beauty to match every décor, engineering for ease of installation, and high-quality materials for years of durability,” Favilla says. The brand integration will make it a more holistic and easier experience when dealing with the full breadth of products the plumbing manufacturer has to offer.
New concepts and products the company will be bringing to market include a brushed bronze finish for select collections. It features a physical vapor deposition coating for long-lasting performance, synonymous with the Gerber brand. Its new kitchen collection, the Kinzie™, draws inspiration from utilitarian forms of industrial-era plumbing fittings modernized with upscale finishes.
The new Lemora™ Bath Collection is a “soft contemporary” line that is designed with dynamic shapes and nature’s inspiration. The first Lemora™ collection product to be introduced is an easy-to-install two-piece toilet intended to look like a one-piece fixture. In addition, a new floor-mounted tub filler is available in three styles that complement all its current collections, as well as four finishes, including the new brushed bronze.
The company will debut a unified Gerber brand showcasing decorative, high-performance, high-efficiency and eco-friendly plumbing products at the 2020 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 20-23.
Partnering with the wholesale distributor
With a unified brand and commitment of distribution through the wholesale distributor, Globe Union and Gerber have implemented and strengthened initiatives for their success. “Our commitment in partnership with the wholesale distributor is our path to growth, but we can only accomplish this by listening to their needs and helping them be more successful,” Favilla sincerely shares.
As an example, he points out the company’s commitment to working with distributors on their marketing — with the sharing and collaborating of resources. “A critical component of our success is to jointly engage in marketing activities,” Favilla notes. “We say, ‘How can we serve you?’ We are excited about the opportunities that will come out of working with our customers to help them succeed.”
The company draws upon distributors’ experiences and pain points, which helps the manufacturer implement and streamline its processes and value proposition. “The most significant benefit is leveraging one brand — from bidding and specing one brand, it will allow for a complete Gerber package, and simplified customer experience,” he says. Bringing all existing SKUs under the Gerber brand umbrella, and the ease of ordering one brand, makes doing business with Gerber more efficient.
In 2017, the company launched Gerber University — a training initiative centered on building customer relationships, brand awareness and advocates. The program is hosted at its corporate office and features a training room surrounded by beautiful vignettes and displays of the Gerber brand.
“We offer a comprehensive course built on branding, marketing and training, and geared toward wholesalers, builders, plumbers and contractors,” Favilla explains. “It’s an interactive experience, and we gladly accept feedback to improve our products and services.”
More than 700 industry professionals have taken part in the program, which reaffirms the company’s commitment to being more than a transactional partner. Instead, the Gerber team is focused on building relationships that translate into strong industry partnerships.
One vision, one family
It was important for the unified Gerber Plumbing Fixtures brand to focus on ease of doing business, bringing their renowned Customer Care team to its headquarters in Illinois. This strategic move highlights the commitment of all arms of the company working together, receiving and providing information at a faster return rate.
“Gerber is set on sharpening our processes and communications. We are dedicated to this effort to provide all the resources to make our strategic partnership with wholesalers even more robust.”
Favilla says. He emphasizes that rejuvenated cross-functional communication between sales, marketing and customer service allows for the ease of exchanging information and addressing customer needs. As an example, one primary area of focus is marketing. “Gerber Plumbing’s internal team works closely with channel marketing managers in the field to incorporate feedback from customers into our communications and creation of resources.”
Favilla continues, “What we are seeing is collaboration on scales not seen before — the results are catapulting us forward. The corporate culture built upon respect, integrity and humility is also evolving and taking the company to the next level. It ties into the company motto: “One Vision, One Family.” “We stay true to our beginnings of being humble — but you can be humble and aggressive at the same time,” he says.
The manufacturer is working on the launch of a revamped website, providing a more intimate customer experience focused on lifestyles. With a unified product line, customers can easily incorporate the many looks of Gerber into a visual experience without the need to go elsewhere. Enhanced media-rich content and videos will add to the experience, and housing product information and technical data all in one place will make for a deeper connection with the brand and customer.
The Gerber team, with an exhilarated fresh approach, brings it full circle by reflecting back on a foundation of strong customer relationships and a commitment to be a trusted industry partner. Their belief is that hard work and unparalleled service develop into partnerships that last — and they have. As we start a new decade, the Gerber name remains true to those values and more.
“Gerber remains true to our foundation. We have never been about price over value,” Favilla notes. “We pride ourselves on value over price. Value also can be found in our marketing center, our technology and customer care side, as well as listening to customers and having discussions with them. We are committed to providing more value in the multitude of ways it takes to help our wholesalers.”