The North American business units of Jacuzzi Brands Corp. have combined portions of their spa/hot tub group (outdoor products) and the bath group (indoor products) operations and opened a new world headquarters in Chino Hills, CA. Formerly, each of the two divisions operated its own marketing, engineering and call centers, with the bath division located in Dallas and the spa team in southern California.

“We have combined these features and services into one location to get more synergy from existing resources and to parlay the skill sets from the people we have added to the staff over the two divisions,” said Tom Koos, president and CEO of Jacuzzi Brands Corp. “This should result in better training, better knowledge and better service to our wholesale and retail customers.”

The company-wide transformation involves major investments in senior staff, product development, marketing, operations, quality assurance and customer service. It will translate into more efficient use of the Web site, lead-management systems, advertising and media campaigns, technology and product development, he explained.

Koos, who joined Jacuzzi Brands Corp. a little more than a year ago, shared his vision of the company and the overall market in an interview with Supply House Times.

Among the changes: Bob Rowan is the new president of Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath. Michelle Cerventez, chief marketing officer, will lead the new North America marketing organization. Jacuzzi is focused on further increasing support to the distribution channel while driving customers to authorized Jacuzzi dealers and wholesalers, Koos said.

Nearly 30 people have been assigned to work on the new product development and deployment team. Erica Moir, an industrial designer who formerly oversaw marketing and design for the spa group, will lead the new North America Industrial Design and New Product Engineering organization. She will collaborate with Drew Meng, the new vice president of marketing for product management and channel marketing. 

“He is the classic consumer products marketing and product development person,” Koos said of Meng, with whom he worked while both were at Black & Decker.

Paul Van Slyke, vice president of finance for North America, will spearhead finance and operations, supported by a new director of quality.

Chris Capone, senior vice president, continues to lead the sales organization. Also, a full-time manager of product training will serve as a bridge between sales, marketing and wholesale customers.

Market Status And Industry Trends

The economic downturn will probably continue for another nine months, Koos predicted. “We are near the bottom. Next spring we may see it start to pop again. There are still 10 to 12 months’ worth of houses that have to work their way through the system.”

The shakeout among traditional plumbing wholesalers has already happened, he observed. “The small guys will continue to fight during the downturn. Some may go under, but I see no major shifts in the next three to five years. Everyone has carved out a space.  It’s pretty stable.”

The green movement will continue to grow in importance, Koos said.

“Energy efficiency has been on our radar a long time and will continue to be.” Regarding luxury goods vs. green initiatives, Koos observed that “a certain segment of the population will continue to drive big cars and spend lavishly, while another segment will be keen on lean.”

Jacuzzi already has some products that address universal design, such as its Finestra walk-in tubs, he said. “If you design fixtures that are easier for people to use and get in and out of without a significant decline in performance, that will be great for everyone. Some of our future design efforts will be focused on that. We see it as a big opportunity.”

The hydrotherapy needs of the aging population are huge, he said, noting that people with arthritis or mobility issues feel better after spending 20 minutes a day in a hot tub or whirlpool.

“Anyone who uses a hot tub or whirlpool on a regular basis generally feels better and sleeps better,” he said. “We have to create awareness of that fact on a larger scale. These tubs are not just for entertainment - they are good for your health.”