Exhibitors at the 2001 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show offered attendees multiple-choice solutions to their plumbing fixture needs.

More choices. Increased variety. One-stop shopping. These were the words exhibitors used to describe their intentions at the 2001 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show held April 27-30 in Orlando, Fla.

Wholesalers have expanded options to consider from the new colors, styles, finishes, sizes, brand names, and in some cases, entirely new product lines shown at K/BIS.

Price Pfister launched Bach, a separate flagship brand of faucets, at K/BIS. The first line under the Bach brand is the Solo kitchen faucet collection. Solo faucets feature a 360-degree rotation, high-arc spout. Both the Solo and Solo Premiere faucets are paired with a pull-out sprayhead. The Solo Minuet has two spout lengths to accommodate round or rectangular secondary sinks.

"The Bach line was created from scratch and will not be associated with Price Pfister," said Ken Brock, manager/marketing communications at Price Pfister. "We are rolling out the kitchen faucets and will follow with bath."

Bach is being positioned as a stand-alone luxury brand, developed with the help of feedback from showroom personnel, said Brett Jordan, assistant product manager at Bach Modern Classics.

Rocky Mountain Hardware introduced a new category of products: sinks and faucets that coordinate with its handcrafted, solid bronze bath and kitchen hardware and accessories. This move was in response to requests from clients and distributors who sought a uniform finish on fixtures and hardware, said Patsy Nickum, co-owner of the company with her husband, Mark.

The company's new Quadra rectangular solid bronze sink basin was recognized with a third-place award among the 132 products displayed in the new products pavilion at the show.

Delta Faucet Co. unveiled a new logo and advertising campaign at K/BIS, touting its "beautifully engineered" products. The new logo incorporates a water drops symbol to represent change.

"This is a brand repositioning," said Ray Kennedy, vice president/marketing, Delta Faucet Co. "It is being reflected in our product design and development and extends to the overall company. We are growing our worldwide business. The new logo shows what we want to stand for and enables us to bring more innovation and style to market."

One of Delta's new products is the e-Flow electronic faucet that offers hands-free operation for residential applications.

Blanco has expanded its variety in an effort to be a one-stop shop for its customers, a spokeswoman said. In 2001 Blanco added eight kitchen sinks, three kitchen faucet designs, five bar-faucet designs, three faucet finishes, seven sink grids and Silgranit bar sinks. New finishes include antique copper, antique pewter and Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) brass.

Gerber Plumbing Fixtures introduced Resilience, a limited-lifetime warranty PVD finish that is now offered standard on all of its polished- brass products.

This year at K/BIS Mansfield Plumbing Products stressed the varieties of colors it offers, said Mark Riggs, marketing communications manager. Among those featured were Daybreak, a light blue opalescent color; Raindrop, a pale green shade; and cobalt blue.

"We're saying to our customers: Do you want color? We got it! Striped, marbleized, Country French, black and/or blue with white speckles," Riggs said.

One of the must-see displays at the show was Kohler's new "sok" ultra-deep soaking bath. The 75-in. long tub with a 24-1/2-in. ultra-deep basin submerges the bather from shoulders to toes in water that remains at a constant height and temperature. A sheet of bath water continuously spills over the tub's rim into a water channel and is recirculated back into the tub, conserving water. The bath is further enhanced by tiny effervescent bubbles from 11 air jets.

The newest product at In-Sink-Erator was the company's booth. "It's actually the same size footprint as our former booth, but much more spacious," said Jim Magruder, marketing communications manager. The new booth includes a wall featuring interactive media that describes the company's products. The booth décor combines stainless steel and In-Sink-Erator's black logo.

A new exhibitor at K/BIS this year was Sunspring North America LLC, manufacturer of faucet components, which operates facilities in Taiwan and China and opened a distribution center in California in February.

"We supply large quantities of components for several of the major U.S. faucet manufacturers," said Curtis C. Chen, vice president. "We opened the California facility to keep safety stock for our existing customers and to enable us to develop new business. We are targeting small- and medium-size manufacturers that use zinc die casting parts and brass parts."

Among the highlights of the show were:

Shower power

Interbath/Ondine introduced ESS, an electronic shower system that allows the user to enjoy a customized shower with the press of a button. The water temperature, choice of shower sprays, pulsing activity and length of shower are preset by the user.

"This system works with any finish, any product," said Monette Moore, administrative assistant at Interbath. "A steam feature is also available. No extra valving is required. An extra button is provided for light or stereo control." The separate electronic module fits inside standard 2-ft. by 4-ft. studs with no assembly required.

Waterpik Technologies presented two new showerheads: the Cascadia, which offers the wide, drenching effect of rain with multiple spray settings, and the AquaFall, a bell-shaped drenching product with a 6-in. face.

Grohe's new hand shower line includes three products: Sensia Dual has a narrow hard spray and a wide soft spray; Sensia Champagne offers a soothing champagne stream and regular soft spray; and Sensia Top 4 provides four options: an invigorating pulsator, relaxing champagne, soft regular spray and hard regular spray.

Freehander, a shower product Grohe unveiled at the 2001 ISH show, joins two showerheads on a tubular arm that pivots 180 degrees. It can be converted from a showerhead to a body spray with one hand.

Pearl Baths introduced Monolith, a luxury shower column offered in three styles. Each shower column includes a 1/2-in. thermostatic valve, handheld shower with arm, four body sprays, a high flow diverter and a water control valve. The faucetry is preplumbed and the face and frame are preassembled, so installation of the column is estimated at less than two hours.

Coastal Industries displayed its frameless hinge shower door, the latest addition to its Paragon Series of bath enclosures. The metal used to hold the panel doors in place is minimized. A magnetic latch provides the support while enabling the door to be opened and closed easily.

Lavatories and toilets

Vessel-style lavatories were as prominent at K/BIS this year as last year. Hand-painted, sculpted, textured and colored varieties were on display.

St. Thomas Creations introduced its gently curving Arc bowl, a vessel that resembles a work of art and Vanntage, a one-piece toilet with a 3-in. valve inside, offered with a round or elongated bowl.

Swan Corp. showed its Europa vanity top, with a slightly larger bowl and a taller backsplash.

Transolid offered a selection of vanities and bowls that could be customized with five different edge treatments and three bowl styles. These were available in one color or in two-color combinations. For example, a white bowl might be paired with a Deep Sea, Aztec, Sage or Matrix Light Blue colored vanity top.

Among the new products presented by TOTO were Carrollton lavatories, offered in pedestal or self-rimming version, and a coordinating toilet and bidet.

"This is more ornate and classical as opposed to the very clean look," said Melissa Gosling, marketing coordinator at TOTO. "People like vintage designs."

New from Bemis Manufacturing Co. was the Easy-2-Clean Lift-Off toilet-seat hinge. The hinge releases the seat from the bowl with a slight twist. It also has a slow-close feature. This product addresses consumers' increased concern about hygiene and cleanliness by allowing for quick removal of the toilet seat for more thorough cleaning, said Bryan Stafford, product manager for Bemis Plumbing Products.

Pullout sprays, undermount sinks

Exhibitors said there was growing interest in pullout faucets and undermount sinks. "Pullouts are becoming almost standard for remodeling and new homes," said Tim Mullally, president/general manager of KWC Faucets and president of Hansa America. "The pullout can be used to wash down solid surface countertops or be sprayed into the dishwasher."

KWC has re-engineered its Suprimo kitchen faucet with a sleek, elegant spray that is longer and thinner and has an increased working radius of up to 27 inches. The new version has a solid stainless-steel body and single-lever handle.

Moen introduced additional pullout kitchen faucet designs: Colonnade and Salora. "People want coordination," said Ginny Long, director of public affairs at Moen. "They want to customize the look of the kitchen."

Blanco's new Premier is an ergonomically designed two-function pull-out handspray with contoured thumb grip and a longer 10-in. reach.

"Undermount sinks have been a real success story in the United States," said Rick Brown, product development/marketing manager at Kindred Industries. "When undermounts first came to market, they were all individual bowls and had to be installed individually. We took a welded sink and offered it as a one-unit undermount."

Elkay Manufacturing Co. is offering two new models of undermount sinks with 10-in. bowl depth. These new extra deep undermount sinks, which are ideal for extra large pots and pans, were developed in response to increased consumer demand.

"The undermount sink is the single fastest growing segment of our business," said Alan Danenberg, director/marketing services. "We are selling undermounts as fast as we can build them. We now have 70 models of undermount sinks in single- double- or triple-bowl configuration."

Trends in colors and finishes

ROHL unveiled a new finish - Tuscan brass - for its Country Bath Collection, which was expanded to include a new single-hole faucet and various shower components.

"Tuscan brass is comparable to oil-rubbed bronze," said Greg Rohl, director of marketing and product development. "It's popular for the rustic look."

Delta Faucet's new Venetian Bronze finish has a dark, rustic, old-world style for consumers who want a warmer look. The rich, muted, nonglossy finish highlights each contour and curve within the design of the faucet.

Swan Corp. has 30 colors of Swanstone products, Gibbons said. White is still the most popular, followed by bone and bisque. White and bone are also big sellers for TOTO, Gosling said.

KWC introduced satin nickel, its new PVD finish. "It's a popular finish," Mullally said. "It also will be available for the bath."

Stainless steel is gaining ground in kitchens because so many appliances and accessories are stainless steel, Mullally said.

Faucets in black and brushed nickel are most in demand for the kitchen, Danenberg of Elkay said. "They create a dramatic look. They blend with the brushed satin finish on the sink. White is fading a bit. Polished chrome is a standby, but black and brushed nickel are the attention-getters."

Moen displayed products with two new finishes for kitchen faucets and fixtures: brushed stainless for the commercial appliance look and copper.

"People are using copper accents to coordinate with their copper pots and pans," Long said.

PVD finish, with a lifetime warranty, is the trend, said Chen of Sunspring North America LLC. The PVD process makes zinc look like brass, he said, adding that chrome is always in demand.

The Granada collection at the St. Thomas Creations booth included lavatory stands and pedestal stands created from wrought iron. "We have discovered a real market for wrought iron," said Bob Arnold, vice president/sales, Western region, at St. Thomas Creations. "Demand is better than we had expected."

TOTO has expanded the usage of its SanaGloss protective glaze to two of its lavatory models: the Vespin and the Carlyle.

"This is a baked-in gloss that repels particles and works like a glass film," Gosling said. "It seals the surface with an ionized barrier and creates an ultra-smooth finish."

K/BIS 2002 will be held in Chicago April 5-7.

SIDEBAR: K/BIS 2001 in Orlando still a crowd-pleaser

This year's Kitchen/Bath Industry Show earned high ratings from exhibitors interviewed by Supply House Times, who confirmed their continued support of this trade show while still expressing hope for show consolidation.

"This was the best show we have had in 17 years," said Tim Shockley, marketing services supervisor at Anaheim Manufacturing, maker of Whirlaway disposers sold through wholesalers.

"K/BIS is very important to us," said Gary Kirkwood, national sales manager at Bootz Manufacturing. "We come every year, looking for plumbing contractors. Friday was a wonderful day; we got busy again Saturday afternoon."

R. Bruce Martin, president, W/C Technologies, said, "K/BIS is the premier show of the plumbing fixture industry. This year's show was superb, providing us with major customer contact."

K/BIS is the biggest show of the year for Sloan Flushmate, a division of Sloan Valve, said Paul DeBoo, manager/sales and promotions. "Interest in our product from kitchen and bath dealers has been tremendous," he said.

The company displayed fixtures that had been redesigned by manufacturers to accommodate the latest Flushmate technology.

"This has always been a very active show for us," said Terry Gibbons, manager/advertising & promotion at Swan Corp. "We've been in K/BIS about 25 years. We stopped participating in some other trade shows because we found we were seeing the same people. This show represented the best opportunity for us."

TOTO participates nationally in three shows: NEX, ASPE and K/BIS, said Melissa Gosling, marketing coordinator at TOTO. "We spend more trade show dollars at this show. At K/BIS we are moving into the remodeling area, a huge market for us. We are able to reach builders, architects, specifiers and interior designers."

Moen was trying to reach designers, kitchen and bath dealers and showroom consultants at K/BIS, said Ginny Long, director of public affairs. "We want to make them aware of our new products and the tools we offer on our Web site."

KWC/Hansa America doubled the size of its booth at K/BIS last year, and had the same size booth this year, said Tim Mullally, president/general manager of KWC Faucets and president of Hansa America.

"This show is important to us because virtually every customer we do business with is here, as well as our customers' customers," Mullally said.

Interbath/Ondine was looking for showroom operators, builders and specifiers at the show. "Remodeling is a big market for us," said Monette Moore, administrative assistant.

"Our three big shows are ISH North America, K/BIS and the Hardware Show," she said. "We used to do others, but there is only so much time and money."

In-Sink-Erator considers K/BIS its flagship show, said Jim Magruder, marketing communications manager. "We do four or five shows, but this is the primary show for us because we can reach kitchen designers and plumbing professionals. K/BIS had great attendance this year," he said.

Trade show consolidation

Sloan Flushmate's DeBoo said his company, like many others, supports the idea of trade show consolidation. "It's a huge expense to display at all of the different niches of the market you need to reach," he said. "My concern is, what city could accommodate a really huge group for a consolidated show. It would be hard to appropriately address the interests of specifiers, suppliers, installers, distributors, and kitchen-and-bath people all in one show."

An annual trade show is necessary to allow manufacturers to show and discuss new products, Martin of W/C Technologies said. "When you're selling a new concept, you need to be able to talk about it and demonstrate it."

"I'd be happy if other trade shows wanted to join with K/BIS," said Mullally of KWC/Hansa. "I could see the ASID combining with K/BIS to attract more designers. It would be helpful for the designers to see the plumbing."