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SFA Saniflo, a renowned brand in the plumbing industry, began in the late-1950s when a French entrepreneur recognized the need for a practical solution to the plumbing challenge of the limiting traditional plumbing infrastructure. Whether it’s a small project requiring drain and condensate pumps to more complex engineered jobs, such as entire buildings with multiple fixture units, SFA Saniflo has a solution without needing to break the concrete or finished floor. He developed an innovative macerating pump system that could effectively grind waste and pump it through small pipe, creating bathrooms, kitchens, and other sanitary facilities virtually anywhere.
In 1958, he founded SFA Saniflo and introduced the first macerating toilet system to the market, a significant advancement in the plumbing industry.
Since then, SFA Saniflo has been at the forefront of bringing innovative solutions to the plumbing market, evolving how it approaches plumbing installations, making new fixtures or renovating existing spaces easier. This breakthrough opened new possibilities for homeowners and businesses, making it possible to add bathrooms in basements, attics, garages, and even RVs, boats and mobile homes.
Today, SFA Saniflo, under the parent corporation of Société Française d’Assainissement (Group SFA), is a recognized champion of gray water drain pumps and black water macerating and grinding pump systems, offering reliable and efficient solutions for both residential and commercial applications.
Included in its holdings is Kinedo, which manufacturers showers, whirlpools, bathtubs and spas; SFA Saniflo, which manufacturers its drain, condensate, macerators and grinder systems for domestic, commercial and residential use; SFA Enviro, which provides equipment and solutions for water treatment; and Zehnder, with its focus on industrial pumps and lift-stations.
With a presence in 70 countries, 27 subsidiaries and seven factories — all based in Europe — controlling the quality of its products from start to finish, the manufacturer boasts more than 25 million installations.
And that’s only the beginning ...
‘We Sell Solutions’
In April, SFA Saniflo hosted 48 wholesaler customers and guests on “A Trip of a Lifetime,” rolling out the red carpet for a trip to Paris to celebrate partnerships and showcase its massive manufacturing facilities in Brégy, France.
The event, which we were so graciously invited to attend, brought together customers from around North America to celebrate SFA Saniflo’s marketplace innovations and to see firsthand the manufacturing facility where an eye for craftsmanship is married with innovation at the highest level.
Arriving in Paris, guests gathered at the host hotel for a welcome reception, where Team SFA Saniflo welcomed its guests and prepared us for the following day’s factory tour. Customers were excited to see firsthand where the products they are selling originate — such as the Saniswift Pro and the Sanibest Pro, the pumps it is well-known for.
The following morning, boarding a luxury coach, guests were transported to the countryside of Brégy— a small, picturesque town about an hour outside Paris. Winding through the streets, small cottage homes and beautiful fields of flowers and grass soon open up to a massive 15-acre manufacturing compound of numerous buildings, each playing an integral part in manufacturing and innovation.
At first, it seemed like the location of the factory was out of place — in the middle of such a rural setting. However, knowing how the company invests heavily in its community outreach around the world, locating its manufacturing facility in a small town and employing most of its 200-plus team members from the local community makes sense.
Upon arrival at the facility, guests gathered in a beautiful showroom SFA Saniflo created to showcase its products made onsite and sold worldwide. Regis Saragosti, CEO of Saniflo North America, welcomed guests and set the stage for the tour of the vertically integrated manufacturing facility. “We are the inventor, and we are the leader of macerators and pumps,” Saragosti says. “And quality is our No. 1 priority — period.”
Christopher Peterson, national sales manager, adds: “Our mission is simple: it’s comfort, innovativeness, trust, trustworthiness, durability, reliability and simplicity. We are a solutions provider in any way to move a liquid from point A to point B.”
“Your imagination is the only limitation on what Saniflo products can be used for,” Saragosti notes.
Quality Control is Top Priority
“SFA Saniflo obviously takes great pride in its products, production facilities and the environment,” states Kim Willey, Security Plumbing & Heating Supply. “Even though the plant sits in a relatively remote area, there was nothing out of place inside or outside the facility.”
On a guided plant tour by Training Specialist Eusebio Dos Santos, he was quick to point out the quality control during the manufacturing process. With all SFA Saniflo products, manufacturing quality is crucial; the company makes nearly 100 percent of its internal parts, controlling quality as well as product and piece availability.
And it starts from the plastic pellets fed through massive overhead tubes and used in the injections for the molds, all the way to motors and circuit boards – the heart of many of its products.
Working through the manufacturing process, we watched firsthand how modern robotic manufacturing was partnered with the hands-on attention to the finer details by many of its 220 team members. Pride in workmanship is apparent; most workers live in the surrounding town, taking pride in their craft.
Quality control is a top priority at SFA Saniflo, reflecting its unwavering commitment to delivering superior products. Rigorous quality checks are implemented at every stage of the manufacturing process, from sourcing raw materials to final inspection of finished products. After leaving the manufacturing facility, where we watched products roll off the assembly line into boxes earmarked for worldwide destinations, we headed to another building focused on research, development and product testing.
SFA Saniflo’s product testing area showcases rows of pumps being monitored for their lifetime use. For SFA Saniflo, testing and research are essential. Advanced testing equipment and methodologies are employed to verify performance, durability and safety standards. The plant’s highly skilled technicians and engineers work diligently to ensure that each product leaving the facility meets or exceeds the stringent quality criteria set by the manufacturer.
“As a manufacturer, one of the main reasons you do it is to take control of your quality,” Peterson remarks, quickly adding that the ability to manufacture most of its product parts allows SFA Saniflo to stand behind the product’s name and quality. “We put our name behind every product, and it’s also represented in our warranties. No one else comes close to a four-year warranty — no one.”
Saragosti elaborates, “SFA Saniflo’s 4-year warranty is supported by SFA Saniflo’s North American based Customer Service team. Communicating with U.S. or Canadian-based customer service agents ensures quicker responses, more reliable problem-solving and more effective communication. Purchasing from a manufacturer with a North American-based salesforce tends to ensure faster, more efficient customer care.”
“I think that’s a game changer for our industry when you have a company that’s not assembling products from parts made from all over the world,” says Dennis DiGesare of D.S. DiGesare Plumbing & Heating. The wholesaler has been installing SFA Saniflo products for more than 15 years, and the reaction when he talks to his customers about SFA Saniflo says it all. “They usually have a hard time understanding how a product can be so ‘bullet-proof.’ They don’t believe me when I say I’ve never had an issue with one!”
Due to all the products offered being engineered by the SFA team, all North American offered products are engineered with United States and Canadian codes/standards in mind, especially when it comes to above-floor plumbing.
Macerating technology uses a pump powered by electricity, and any electrical product that contacts water is potentially hazardous. You’ll want to ensure the product is compliant with safety standards to prevent accidents from happening.
A reputable company invests in testing its products to comply with major plumbing codes. This way, the product will be approved to be installed anywhere in the country while safeguarding the customer from any potential issues.
Willey notes: “The most impressive thing about SFA Saniflo’s manufacturing processes is test, test and test again. The company prides itself in its vertical integration, including making most of the components. These components, from the motors to the plastic basin components, are produced and assembled in the Brégy factory. It has full control over nearly every piece that goes into SFA Saniflo products.”
One benefit of making its parts is that the supply chain is shorter, providing SFA Saniflo with additional control. “ SFA Saniflo’s vertical integration limits its exposure to supply chain challenges and allows for better product quality control,” says Zach Derr, APR Supply Co. “I was very impressed with the SFA Saniflo factory. It was highly automated and more vertically integrated than I expected, including the in-house production of motors and control boards. It also stood out to me that individual components were tested every step of the process until a final quality check was done on the finished product.”
While robots and automation are an important part of the production process, at the heart is the art and science used to develop the hundreds of molds used in the production process. Demanding reliability and performance from its products starts at the very beginning, and the molds used to create the products are stored in what one would equate to a bank vault — the room is lined with extra-thick concrete to protect SFA Saniflo’s investments.
“When I ask our customers what their needs are — from “I’m putting a bathroom in the basement” to “I need a kitchen sink installed in my office,” SFA Saniflo has a solution for it all,” DiGesare says.
SFA Saniflo started an innovative way to solve a challenge, and it continues to champion the idea of — new ideas. “We do not duplicate — we originate,” Saragosti says.
And origination starts with product application. “SFA Saniflo is being specified more and more for commercial applications, and we typically were known as a residential remodel product,” Peterson says. “Now, we’re working with companies like Target, where our commercial units are the preferred plumbing solution in many Starbucks locations located within Target stores.”
And while one might think of the challenges of moving near 200-degree water through a pump from a commercial dishwasher, Peterson explains, “What makes us unique is we separate the motors from the wastewater … so we can run hot water, grease, etc.” This allows the product to be used in applications such as breweries, coffee stations, commercial kitchens, hospitals, modular situations, and manufacturing plants, etc. With the separation of hot liquid from the motor, there is no fear of unwinding the motor.
Innovation also takes the shape of turning industry trends into standards and best practices. An example would be that of the neutralization of discharge from high-efficiency, condensing water heaters, boilers or furnaces. SFA Saniflo is an advocate and early adopter and supporter of neutralization — not only for the impact it has on the heaters, etc., but also its impact on the environment. By providing information and products on how to solve this issue, “we are promoting innovative technologies ahead of the trend, so people are aware of it before it’s even the standard,” Peterson explains.
This year, SFA Saniflo celebrates its 25th anniversary of its arrival in the United States. With a growing sales team, more than 100 manufacturers’ representatives and six U.S. distribution centers, there is no slowing down. “APR started carrying SFA Saniflo products in 2005,” Derr recalls. “It was a relatively new brand in the states, but provided solutions our customers were looking for. We also had a great rep agency in Weed-Studnicky Associates to support our success.”
He went on to explain how the products help their customers: “Saniflo products allow our customers to be creative with their renovation projects. Fixture placement is not limited by the existing plumbing in the home; this can reduce time and costs on a project and allow for more options.” And with its six distribution centers, products usually ship within one day.
Helping its customers help their customers is another aspect of SFA Saniflo’s vertical integration. “Our customers like the flexibility, compact size, easy and trouble-free installation of the products,” Security Plumbing and Heating’s Willey notes. And to help educate its customers on the uniqueness of the products, the company is all-in on how to help. “We hold regular counter days with the SFA Saniflo display van to educate our customers, and its product always sits on the end cap next to our counter,” he says.
The company is also forward-thinking in helping its distributors with marketing.
“APR partners with SFA Saniflo and its reps to educate customers; we conduct both virtual and in-person training,” Derr explains. “SFA Saniflo has a dedicated landing page on APR’s website to highlight training videos, promotions and product information.”
SFA Saniflo also offers unique ways to market its products, Saragosti explains: “We are not just about moving boxes from my warehouse to yours.” He explains that SFA Saniflo helps create the demand in the marketplace, and it starts with creating a customizable website page for its customers that can be integrated into their websites, making it seamless and easy. “We bring people to your business,” smiles Saragosti.
It’s all about helping its customers help their customers — from start to finish.
As mentioned earlier, SFA Saniflo is a big supporter of giving back to its communities worldwide. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it supported many pop-up hospitals with products to help move water from point A to B. The company also creates opportunities for giving back, such as “Showering Love,” where it provides temporary bathrooms with showers for the homeless, as well as providing laundry services for those in need. It’s all about taking care of body, mind and soul.
The biggest innovation of all is yet to come, and as tour guests, we understood by seeing the passion in the faces of Team SFA Saniflo, and after learning so much more about their mission to redefine how to move water, that this wasn’t a blanket statement.
“Because we want (to create) something innovative and unique,” Peterson notes. “And we have some products coming that are going to be game-changing. It’s all about creating not just a better mousetrap — instead, something that completely revolutionizes our industry.”
We’ll need to wait until the fall for the mystery unveiling.
Joie de Vivre
Over several days, guests enjoyed exploring Paris — taking in the sights and sounds of a magnificent city known for its high standards in both food and goods.
Team SFA Saniflo hosted a dinner on the Seine, with a backdrop of some of the world’s most beautiful sights – the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral and so much more.
“This was my wife’s and my first trip to Paris, and we were blown away by the hospitality of the company and, quite frankly, Paris itself,” DiGesare smiles. “We love forging relationships with new people from companies we’ve been doing business with for years. We loved every minute of the trip and are forever grateful to SFA Saniflo for allowing us to be a part of it. Before this trip, SFA Saniflo had a customer for life. After this trip, it reaffirmed that we made a good decision.” APR’s Derr agrees, “ It is difficult to pick a single highlight. We really enjoyed getting to know the Saniflo team, and exploring the local area.”
As the night concluded, guests bid adieu to the mesmerizing lights along the riverbank. The memories of that extraordinary evening, brimming with laughter, beauty and the bonds of partnership, will last a lifetime. l