Building a Better Mousetrap

It is Hard to Buy a Better Mousetrap

In the nineteenth century, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Sounds right except when Emerson was speaking there was no internet and there were no big box stores. Today he might say, “Build a cheaper mousetrap, regardless of quality…”

In today’s marketplace, the lead is nearly always price. On the internet, it is impossible to tell a good faucet from a cheap plastic version of the same thing. Even brands are not sacred. Most big manufacturers make cheap versions of their mainline product for the big box stores and internet.

In the picture below, a Freendo faucet we sell is side by side with the knockoff sold at a big box store. The big box store version is sold to the public for about our wholesale price. Notice, the finish on the big box version does not have the highlights our version does. The big box store has a plastic cartridge instead of a longer lasting ceramic cartridge, and when you get it home – the drain is not displayed in the store – the plug and drain are all plastic.

And it is not just this manufacturer. The big box store calls in the manufacturer and offers to purchase large quantities of the product but dictates the price. The manufacturer then goes back and makes the product fit the price. When the product shows up on the internet, there is no way to tell from the pictures which version of the product you are buying. Often the only packaging difference is the part number.

What does that mean to you?

It means it is hard to get a better-quality product, any product.

Recently, ANO was interviewing manufacturers of ceramic lav bowls to improve the quality of the product. The manufacturers were so accustomed to price only purchasing that it took months to find one who was willing to upgrade quality, even at a higher price. ANO’s needs were simple, or so we thought. Our customers wanted the following:

  1. A finish free of dimples, dust, and bubbles
  2. A consistent size – one major manufacturer recommends 5/8 inch overhang because the bowls vary so much
  3. Glazing that went to the top of the bowl, so the installer did not need to install a large caulk bead to hide the unfinished bowl
  4. Flat top so it lays flat on the countertop
  5. Glazing that went into the overflow hole, so the chrome drain cap was not required.

ANO was willing to pay a premium for these features.

It took months to find a manufacturer willing to even discuss these issues. We have now made arrangements with a factory that meets these needs. ANO is getting the top ten percent of the production runs to avoid the defects and size differences. The sinks are sanded to lay flat on the countertop, and so the glazing goes to the top. ANO is also inspecting the bowls to make sure we get what we require.

At the bottom is a picture of the gazing on the new ANO lav bowl.