Geberit buys Chicago Faucet to build commercial side

Looking to expand its U.S. presence, the Switzerland-based Geberit Group has acquired The Chicago Faucet Co. for $33 million, most of it in stock.

Geberit stated that it “will combine its existing product line with Chicago’s line to form a broader range of offerings to the commercial plumbing market.”

In the fiscal year 2001, Chicago Faucet reported sales of $70 million. It has 400 employees. The company, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, manufactures brass faucets, stops, showers and valves for the commercial food service, laboratory and residential applications.

Geberit International AG entered the U.S. market 26 years ago. Its products include the exposed retrofit tank (discontinued in the early 1990s), cable driven bath waste and overflow systems, infrared and manual-metering faucets, wall-hung toilets (both gravity and pressure-assist) with infrared sensor flushometers, kitchen strainers and a number of bath accessories.

Geberit’s U.S. operations have posted double-digit growth every year as its residential product line has grown.

After Keith Kramer left Starline Manufacturing (a unit of review brass kitchen faucet) last year to become CEO of Geberit’s U.S. operations, Geberit’s strategic goal was to increase it’s presence in the U.S. market. They looked closely at Chicago’s brand name, its sales and marketing efforts and products and realized the companies would fit well together.

With the exception of electronic faucets, they don’t have competing product lines, nor do they have a lot of organizational overlap. “Each rep network has its strengths for the right type of products,” says Richard O’Reagan, vice president of sales and marketing of Chicago Faucet.

Kramer said Geberit’s intent is to keep the brand names separate, but Chicago Faucet’s new name has yet to be determined.

Chicago Faucet’s red brass sand foundry was scheduled to close before the acquisition was finalized; its yellow brass foundry located at Starline’s facility in Milwaukee will continue operating, according to Kramer.

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