|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
A division of
American Standard Brands, Inc.
One Centennial Avenue
P.O. Box 6820
Piscataway, NJ 08854
AS Canada ULC
5900 Avebury Rd.
Canada L5R 3M3
(Meets North American Standard)
Founded as the Ahrens & Ott Manufacturing Company in 1875, it subsequently merged with Standard Manufacturing of Pittsburgh and was renamed Standard Sanitary Manufacturing. It became American Standard Companies in 1929 after a merger with American Radiator Company. American Standard shares with Kohler the credit for pioneering the technique of attaching porcelain to cast iron just after the Civil War, a process that made sanitary bath ware possible.
For most of a century and a half American Standard Companies was an American manufacturer of high-quality sanitary ware selling its products worldwide. Today, what's left of American Standard in the U.S. is a Japanese company and no more than the design, marketing and distribution arm of Mexican and Chinese factories.
In 2007 the old American Standard Companies was put on the auction block. Its air-conditioning division became Trane, Inc. which was almost immediately snapped up by Ingersoll-Rand. The kitchen and bath division, along with the American Standard brand name and logo was sold to Bain Capital Partners, a private equity investment fund, now famous due to its ownership by presidential aspirant Mitt Romney.
Bain created a new corporation, American Standard America (A-S America), to own the North American assets of the kitchen and bath division. It then sold a majority interest in this new corporation to Sun Capital Partners.
The next year, in 2008, Sun Capital bought Crane Plumbing, LLC, a well-known, privately owned maker of excellent, mostly commercial, bath fixtures, and another well-respected American manufacturer of sanitary products. The two new acquisitions along with A-S America became divisions of a new umbrella company, American Standard Brands. The original American Standard Companies, Inc., after 133 years as an American plumbing icon, ceased to exist.
But the story does not end here.
Bain still owned the assets of the old American Standard kitchen and bath division that were located in Europe and Asia. These assets included American Standard's upscale European brands. In 2009, Bain transferred these assets to Ideal Standard International, formerly American Standard's European subsidiary. The assets included the right to use the American Standard name and logo outside of North America. Bain retained ownership in Ideal Standard.
Then, in 2010, Bain split out the Asian portion of Ideal Standard's assets and sold these, along with the right to use the American Standard brand name and logo in Asia, to INAX, a Japanese sanitary-wares company, which, the next year, was bought up by JS Group, a Japanese private investment corporation. JS Group consolidated INAX with four other Japanese home-improvement products companies to form LIXIL Corp. as a wholly owned subsidiary of JS Group.
Finally, in a classic "tail wags dog" story, LIXIL Corp. bought American Standard Brands (including Crane and Eljer) from Sun Partners in June, 2013. It now owns all of the old American Standard except the European operations belonging to Bain's Ideal Standard International. American Standard, a grand old American company for nearly a century, and a half, has become Japanese.
LIXIL is in stiff competition with . for toilet king in its shrinking Japanese home market, and many analysts believe its main goal in acquiring American Standard Brands is to increase its sales of Japanese-style toilets in the growing U.S. market for upscale toilets and bath fixtures — a market that Toto has had pretty much to itself until now. LIXIL will also benefit from acquiring American Standard's renown design and engineering team to better compete with the innovative Toto, known worldwide for its "Washlet" toilet technology.
Under Bain Capital and later Sun Partners, American workers employed by A-S America, Crane and Eljer have not fared well. Nearly as soon as Bain Capital obtained control of American Standard's kitchen and bath division, it began closing U. S. factories and laying off American workers. Today, of all the thousands of different plumbing products sold in the U.S. by American Standard, barely a half dozen are made in the company's sole surviving factory in Salem, Ohio (sanitary ironware). The company's Nevada, Missouri (sanitary porcelain-ware) plant was closed in 2015 costing a further 133 American jobs. and an acrylic factory in Winnipeg was also closed. American Standard recently bought a walk-in tub factory in Grand Prairie, Texas, and so far it still makes walk-in tubs in the U.S.
American Standard no longer makes any faucets in the U.S. All American Standard and Eljer brand faucets are imported. For comparison, another established American faucet company, makes most of its faucets in the U.S. Over 4,500 Delta products comply with the Buy American Act.
In the 1980s the combined American Standard Brands companies, including Crane and Eljer, employed over 30,000 American workers, mostly in manufacturing plants spread across the country. Today it employs fewer than 3,000 Americans, just a few hundred in manufacturing.
American Standard Brands is very cagey about where its products are actually made. It claims on its web site that
“Due to the fact we change the manufacturing location from time to time, we are not able to give you country of origin by model or even product.”.Well, even though American Standard Brands does not appear to know where its products are manufactured, we do. The company is still in the business of manufacturing faucets, just not in the U.S.
It formerly assembled faucets for the North American market at its Monterrey, Mexico facility using mostly Chinese-made components and parts. Eighty percent of Mexican production was exported to the U.S. and Canada. But, in 2013, after the company's acquisition by Lixil, the plant was closed, with some of the faucet production going to American Standard's 4,000 employee plant in Maquila (AS Maquila México, S. de R.L. de C.V.), and other production moving to China. In 2015 it was revived when Grohe moved its faucet assembly plant, machine by machine, from Ontario, Canada, and set up shop to assemble Grohe mid-priced and stainless steel faucets. Grohe is also owned by Lixil and is with American Standard, a part of the Lixil Water Technology Group.
American Standard's faucet manufacturing is now done in China. American Standard has an unspecified "interest" in three sanitary ware factories in China: A-S (Shanghai) Pottery Co., Ltd.; A-S (Guangzhou) Enameiware Company, Ltd.; and A-S (Tianjin) Pottery Co., Ltd., which make a lot of the company's sanitary wares including sinks and toilets. (Bet you can't guess what the "A-S" stands for.) It also owns an "interest" in an enamelware factory in the Dominican Republic: Sanitarios Dominicanos S.A. (also known as Sadosa Standard).
In addition, the company buys both finished products and various components from a veritable international who's who of sanitary ware suppliers located in Canada, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Taiwan.
Ideal Standard supplied many of the faucets sold in the U.S. by American Standard, including the upscale faucet lines until 2013 when these two luxury brands were discontinued in North America. But, it still supplies some regular American Standard faucets. Bain's Ideal Standard inherited all of the old American Standard factories in Europe, but almost immediately closed most of them down, moving manufacturing to Asia. It now imports the vast majority of its faucets from Chinese factories, including the old American Standard factories in China now owned by LIXIL.
So, a faucet sold by Lixil's American Standard in the U.S. that is not made in a Lixil factory in Mexico from components manufactured in a Lixil-owned Chinese factory; or imported finished, already in the box and ready to sell, from one of Lixil's factories in China, was probably bought from Ideal Standard which ordered the faucet from one of the factories owned by LIXIL in China, and possibly even Mexico. The Lixil factory then delivered the faucet to Ideal Standard which, in turn delivered it to American Standard in the U.S, which is really Lixil under a different name.
Whew! It's no wonder American Standard claims it doesn't know where its faucets are made. And it will probably get worse. Lixil is already starting to mix production of Grohe and American Standard products, producing both in the same factories. For example, in the first five weeks of 2016 Grohe imported more than 5 tons of faucets and faucet parts from AS Maquila México, S. de R.L. de C.V., a subsidiary of American Standard Brands founded in 2007 whose 4,000 employees manufacture vitreous plumbing fixtures and faucets for sale by American Standard in the North American market.
American Standard has never been especially well known for faucets. Its main line of products has always been ceramic-ware: toilets, sinks and bathtubs. Faucets seem to have always been sort of a sideline with American Standard, offered just to round out its sanitary ware lines. In plumber polls, fewer than 6% of plumbers identify American Standard as their preferred faucet. In our top-of-mind faucet survey, American Standard is the first name that comes to mind in only 2% of our respondents.
American Standard Faucets are not bad, just not exceptional in any category. They are not at or even near the cutting edge of style, design or technology. The cartridges used in the faucets are sourced from so many suppliers that the same model faucet on the shelf at your Big Box store may include cartridges from three different companies in as many different countries. It's nearly impossible to form an opinion about the quality of the cartridges used in American Standard faucets because we don't know where they come from. But, we know that a good many of the company's single handle mixing cartridges are from Sedal S.A., a cartridge maker headquartered in Spain that manufactures in China. Sedal makes a good cartridge, used in many better quality Chinese faucets — good but not great. But, it is better than some of the other cartridges used in American Standard faucets. We especially do not like the American Standard A954706-0070A cartridge, which has a plastic stem. Even if the rest of the cartridge is plastic, the stem should be stainless or brass to withstand the torque applied to the cartridge year after year without breaking.
Eljer and Crane have been effectively merged with American Standard and no longer have a separate existence except in accounting ledgers somewhere. For all practical purposes, the companies are a single entity with shared design, manufacturing and distribution.
Founded in 1904 by Raymond Crane and Oscar Bacus, had a long and distinguished history as an American sanitary wares manufacturer. Its faucets were originally designed for commercial use in restrooms, hotels, and factories, and residential products showed that heavy-duty commercial breeding. In the immediate Postwar period, Eljer along with Crane were the brands to buy if a homeowner wanted very durable faucets. Separate Eljer manufacturing has all but ceased. Eljer faucets are now just renamed American Standard faucets and, like American Standard faucets, have no truly distinguishing characteristics.
Crane, founded in 1955 as the Crane Brass and Bell foundry in Chicago, invented the pastel bathroom in the 1920s featuring fixtures designed by noted industrial designer of the time, Henry Dreyfuss. The bathrooms were very popular in the 1950s, but declined in sales thereafter, In 1978 the company introduced a complete line of washerless faucets to compete with Moen. But, despite Crane's history of innovation, Crane faucets made little headway in the residential fixture market. Today, Crane faucets are like Eljer faucets, merely relabeled American Standard products, without distinguishing characteristics of any note.
American Standard/Crane/Eljer styling is just average; sort of middle of the road traditional with a touch of transitional and a bare whiff of contemporary, but with no salient stylistic feature that proclaim the faucets to be from American Standard. You can get much the same look in any generic Chinese faucet. Which is no surprise since more and more of the design and prototyping of American Standard faucets is shifting to Asia — a process we expect to accelerate now that the company has been bought by the Japanese.
The American Standard warranty is average — neither worse nor better than the usual warranty by an American faucet company. The company's U.S.-based post-sale customer and warranty service is very good. American Standard may not know where its faucets are made, but it does know where to find the parts for each faucet. We score the company customer service at 4.1 out of 5. Any score above 4.0 is considered satisfactory.
We can see no particular reason to prefer an American Standard faucet over all of the other excellent faucets available, including a good many of equal or better quality for about the same price from companies that manufacture in the U.S. or Canada. On the other hand, if an American Standard, Eljer or Crane faucet strikes your fancy, we can think of no especially good reason not to buy it. The quality is generally good, and the post-sale support very good. So, while we would probably never go out looking specifically for an American Standard faucet, if we stumbled upon one we liked, we would have little hesitation buying it. But, keep in mind that when you buy an American Standard faucet what you are getting most of the time is a good quality American-designed but Chinese-made faucet.
For a "Made in USA" faucet from an American company of equal or better quality, look to
•to name just a few quality American faucet companies that manufacture or at least assemble their faucets in North America.
If you have experience with American Standard faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or leave a comment below.