“Artisan Hands over Mass Production.” This is the mantra that, over the past 30 years, has helped California Faucets flourish in decorative plumbing innovation. Throughout just two generations, the company perfected the production of its handcrafted decorative faucets and fittings and has evolved into a world leader in physical vapor deposition (PVD) finishes — all the while remaining an independent, family-owned company.
Back in 1988 when Fred Silverstein founded the company, no one imagined that the small faucet company — established on the belief that artisan’s hands outplay mass production — would evolve into one of the country’s most innovative faucet manufacturers. Yet it happened.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, the company sits atop its niche, with annual growth more than 15 percent since the Great Recession. Plus, it continues to celebrate its history of stylish innovation for which it has received numerous awards including four Interior Design “Best of Year” nods and several global marketing awards — even when pitted against much larger companies.
But how did they do it? Read on to learn the secrets behind how this Huntington Beach, Calif.-based company expanded its influence and positioned itself as one of the most memorable and innovative faucet companies in the industry.
More Than Buzzwords
“From our hands to your home” has a lovely ring to it. But at California Faucets, it’s more than a slogan. The quality and craftsmanship that go into each fitting are immediately apparent.
When a customer receives a faucet or another decorative fitting from California Faucets, even unboxing it is memorable. Each product is shipped in premium packaging displaying the brand’s iconic logo. Much like a piece of fine jewelry, each hand-finished decorative fitting is carefully placed by hand into custom-cut foam to ensure its high-quality brass is amply protected.
“We pay attention to every last detail, from designing and engineering to assembling and hand-finishing,” says President and CEO Jeff Silverstein, who explains that true to the company’s roots, all faucets and accessories are handcrafted with the company’s signature solid brass throughout, from the base rings to the spout tip.
It’s a seemingly small detail, but it makes a huge difference in the quality and feel in your hand, explains Noah Taft, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
While California Faucets has the creation of solid brass quality fittings nailed, style matters just as much. The designs run the gamut from traditional to contemporary. And if the more than 25 design series is not enough, the company allows clients to mix and match spout and handle styles in more than 30 decorative finishes.
In addition, the company offers 15 PVD finishes. In a league of their own, these molecularly bonded finishes come with a lifetime guarantee against tarnishing. “With such a huge array of styles and the ability to customize, even the pickiest end-users can create the exact faucet they envision,” Taft says.
Summer Camp and Sitcoms
“We pride ourselves on our collective talent to think differently, which has helped us stand out in the industry and elevate our designs beyond the ‘commodity’ status,” Jeff Silverstein notes. “With this vantage point, we’ve been able to come up with a versatile mix of game-changing products and unique marketing efforts.”
But how has the company managed to go beyond mere “outside-of-the-box” thinking? Well, for starters, Fred Silverstein placed company management in the capable, albeit atypical, hands of two professionals whose experiences gave them a unique perspective. Fred’s son Jeff was a former summer camp director while his cousin, Noah, worked as a Hollywood sitcom writer.
Silverstein’s talent for developing award-winning product while guiding and motivating the team complements Taft’s ability to connect with people on an emotional level and tell a compelling story. As a result, they bring a unique sense of color and creativity to an otherwise traditionally conservative industry.
Of course, it all blossomed from the core values that Fred Silverstein instilled in the company culture from day one: Produce quality fittings, deliver them quickly and back it up with superior customer service.
Product Innovations that
Beyond creative thinking, California Faucets understands that solving problems is another key to success. The company keeps its finger on the pulse of consumers by understanding their lifestyles and challenges and then coming up with solutions. To this end, the company is known for its product designs that are not only stylish but also out-perform.
Innovation is evident in most everything the company brings to market. Notably, it was the first to bring affordable thermostatic shower technology to the United States with StyleTherm, which made the technology obtainable to mainstream consumers. The design offered features previously unavailable with the pressure-balance systems that had dominated the U.S. market.
The manufacturer also brought the industry’s first decorative shower drains to market. With the 2009 launch of StyleDrain, an entirely new category of product was born — one that transformed lackluster industrial-like drains into a stylish and memorable design element. Other manufacturers immediately recognized the value of this new category and began to emulate StyleDrain in their shower drain collections.
But as others followed, California Faucets continued to lead and revolutionize the shower drain category with subsequent innovations. These included StyleDrain Tile, a shower drain allowing inlay of any tile or stone to integrate with the floor seamlessly, and the international award-winning CeraLine linear shower drain.
Then in 2014, the company introduced what might be its most innovative drain yet — ZeroDrain — the world’s first “pop-down” drain, which is vastly easier to install and maintain than standard drains because it innovatively sits flush with the sink instead of awkwardly protruding.
Innovation + Entertainment = Awards
Prestigious industry awards further validated the groundbreaking innovations. All four of the drains received a Best of Year Award from Interior Design magazine. Plus, ZeroDrain was on the list of Better Homes & Gardens Beautiful Kitchens & Baths 30 Most Innovative Products in 2015 list, and StyleDrain Tile garnered the 2013 Decorative Plumbing Hardware Association award in 2013.
And speaking of awards, California Faucets has won numerous global marketing awards for its series of lighthearted and fun marketing messages. Used in-showroom, online and on TV as commercials in several media markets, the videos have earned top awards from AVA Digital and MARCOM, as well as Hanley Wood’s Brand Builder Award.
From the disco-dancing faucets in “Tub Filler Fever” and the vocally gifted single-hole bath faucets performing in “Aqua Pella” to the most recent video, “Bath Time,” which features a suite of solid-brass faucets harmonizing with a human, the videos have helped California Faucets connect with industry professionals as well as consumers, helping them amass quite a loyal following.
“We are in the business of selling faucets, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun,” says Taft, who tapped into his Hollywood experience to create the videos. “Sometimes all it takes to make an impact and be remembered is a little entertainment.” What’s next on the entertainment horizon from California Faucets? A smile washes over Taft’s face. “One word: Steampunk.”
‘Yes’ Springs to the Lips
California Faucets knows that customer service is more important than anything else. The company understands that, even if you do everything else well, a negative customer experience hurts business. It’s why the company lives by the three-letter word — yes.
“Since the very beginning, we have put the customer first,” Jeff Silverstein says. “We go above and beyond, doing whatever it takes to quickly solve problems and make things as easy as possible for the customer.”
And in today’s automated world, a live person still answers the telephone at California Faucets. “When you call a manufacturer, you either have a question or a problem,” he says. “Connecting customers with a live voice instantly puts them at ease and shows you care. It’s human and that resonates.”
California Faucets has grown and evolved immensely in terms of innovation, technology and design. But at the same time, the company has stayed true to the culture Fred Silverstein started 30 years ago.
“Overall, we’ve created a formula that has gratifyingly resulted in stellar growth and an ability to continue delivering our luxury designer fittings on a grander scale,” says Jeff Silverstein, who notes that the business is truly a family affair with even his sisters on board. Tina Silverstein handles the company’s digital marketing and Sue Cuthbert recently joined as the new product launch coordinator.
“My father’s cultural vision is also reflected in our devotion to keeping our Huntington Beach home base, where we now employ 200 people,” he says, noting that this is where California Faucets earned the coveted “Made in California” designation. “We’re committed to keeping our manufacturing jobs in California — a detail that’s just as important to the company legacy as our reputation for innovation and craftsmanship.”
In fact, the company employs more American labor per faucet sold than almost any other faucet manufacturer.
So, what does the future hold for California Faucets? If you ask Silverstein, he might say another 30 years of making life a little better with handcrafted innovation delivered with a smile.