As commercial water closets and urinals continue to push the envelope of water conservation and design, developing innovative products to meet and exceed that criteria is of the utmost importance.
Working as Sloan’s Product Line Manager for Fixtures for over eight years, Mark Lawinger has been a leading part of Sloan’s push over the last decade to manufacture products that achieve those goals. With degrees in both Mechanical Engineering and an MBA in marketing, Lawinger provides Sloan with a unique perspective in both integrated design and product management for its water closets and urinals.
How have commercial water closets and urinals evolved over the last several years?
Lower flush volumes have been a major trend, but that has tapered off a bit since the industry hit the 1.1 gpf benchmark. I think concerns over drainline carry and other performance metrics may be what is causing everyone to pump the brakes a bit and have also seen a slowdown in projects requiring LEED or other green building standards.
Hygienic glazes that make fixtures easier to clean have increased in popularity due to the industry’s interest in disease control, cleanliness and germs. There’s also been an increased interest in product design as of late. The commercial restroom in the United State has historically focused on ‘function’ and considered this area more of a ‘back room’ that people didn’t care too much about. Now, building owners are looking for different ways to differentiate and improve the user experience with an aesthetically pleasing commercial restroom. This is primarily true in the urinal and lavatory categories because these fixtures are most visible and have a bigger impact on the overall look and feel of the restroom.
What project are you most proud of in your time at Sloan?
I think that the introduction of SloanTec® hydrophobic glaze ranks pretty high. It was a first for the industry and addresses several issues in a way that no other fixture manufacturer had until then.
The introduction of SloanTec really personifies Sloan’s focus on listening to customer demands, as they were asking for solutions to make fixtures easier to clean with more hygienic surfaces. This broke the mold of simply emulating the same feature that other manufacturers were doing and illustrates why Sloan is considered the top brand in commercial plumbing. This ability to think differently not only resulted in a superior performing product – one that is seven times more effective than glazes that existed prior to its launch – but also addresses unmet needs of customers like rust stain prevention. It also uses a cutting edge nanotechnology never before used in the fixture space that prevents Sloan from keeping duplicate inventories.
What direction do you see fixtures heading in the coming years?
I believe there will be a continued focus on improved performance at low flush volumes. Today we have accomplished far lower water usage, yet the industry’s ability to keep pace with improved performance has fallen behind. Areas like drainline carry, effective evacuation and sound ratings all combine to improve the customer experience. I also definitely foresee a continued demand from architects, designers and owners for more aesthetically pleasing designs and more variety.
This is the third in a series of Q&A segments with Sloan product line managers for their take on where the commercial restroom has been, what it’s evolved to now and where it’s going. A previous edition on faucets can be found here.
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