|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Artisan Manufacturing Corp., Inc.
237 Frelinghuysen Ave
Newark, NJ 07114
(Below North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Artisan Manufacturing is an importer of Asian Kitchen faucets to complement is principal product, kitchen sinks, also imported from Asia. The faucets are fair to good in overall quality, incorporating some reliable Asian-made cartridges. The styling is ordinary Chinese devoid of any unique or noteworthy design features. The faucets are priced slightly higher than similar Asian-made faucets sold by other importers.
Artisan faucets are certified to meet or exceed all North American reliability, safety and lead-free standards, but the statement required by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act certifying that the faucets comply with U.S. water conservation standards is not on file with the Department of Energy. In consequence, Artisan faucets cannot be lawfully "distributed in commerce" (i.e. imported, offered for sale or sold) in the United States. Canadian sales are not affected.
Artisan Manufacturing Corp. is a New York corporation formed in 2003 (company literature says 2002) by Alex Han. The business operates out of a warehouse in an industrial section of Newark, New Jersey that it shares with Concord Sales & Distribution, a New Jersey corporation, also apparently owned by Alex Han. Like Artisan, Concord sells sinks, faucets and accessories.
According to company literature, Mr. Han has three decades of experience "through … his family businesses" with "manufacturing products for the plumbing and wholesale business".
Notwithstanding the Han family's experience in manufacturing, the word "manufacturing" in the company name, and frequent references to itself as a manufacturer on its web site, in press releases, and in its catalogs1, we can find no credible evidence that supports the conclusion that Artisan Manufacturing manufactures faucets.
It does not now own and never has owned any facility that we can identify as a manufacturing site. The casting, forging, stamping, machining and finishing of faucets requires a substantial facility, and a bunch of permits from nearly all levels of government due to the hazardous processes and materials involved. We can find no record that Artisan has obtained the permits needed to operate such a facility
All of the available information indicates that Artisan is strictly an importer of Asian products for kitchens. Its primary products are sinks. It also sells some of the things that commonly accompany sinks such as cutting boards, lotion and soap dispensers, cabinet hardware and, of course, faucets.
Its principal sink manufacturers, based on customs and import records are:
• Senzhen Ke Hua Xing Industrial Ltd. (China): Stainless steel, brass and copper sinks; porcelain-enamel sanitary wares, vanities and even ceramic tile. Known informally as "KeHauaXing", the company also manufactures stainless sinks for the Canadian sink company,
• MaxSteel Enterprise Co., Ltd (Viet Nam): Stainless steel and enameled china sinks.
• Guangdong Yingao Kitchen Utensils Co., Ltd. (China): Stainless steel sinks,
• Winsbridge Industries (Malaysia): Stainless steel sinks.The company began offering faucets for sale a few years ago, at about the time it changed its web address from artisansinks.com to artisanstyles.com to better reflect the expanded product line. It sells only kitchen faucets.
Artisan presents its faucets as premium products, and sells through some higher end venues like the which supplies upscale decorative plumbing showrooms throughout North America, and kitchen design studios as well as more pedestrian outlets such as Home Depot, Wayfair, Walmart and Amazon.
Artisan's faucets are not "designer faucets" as claimed on the cover of its July 2014 catalog, except in the sense that all faucets must have been designed by somebody, usually an engineer. But, in the faucet industry the term designer faucets, by general consensus, is reserved for companies like that create unique and proprietary faucet forms using architects and product designers. Artisan does not have its own architects or product designers. Any designing that is done on Artisan faucets is most likely done by designers and engineers employed by the Asian factories that make them, and typically amounts to little more than modest style changes to already existing European and North American designs together with the modifications necessary to allow the faucets to fit U.S./Canadian non-metric fittings.
Artisan faucets are ordinary Chinese faucets of fair to good quality representing styles typical of more than two dozen Taiwan and mainland China faucet manufacturers. With rare exception, Asian faucet designs tend to conservative, targeting mass market customers, not straying too close to outer design boundaries. A new design that proves popular in European or North American markets will ultimately be copied by Chinese and Taiwanese factories. The lag time is normally three to five years behind the Western designs, and by that time a new design is no longer new.
Artisan purchases some faucets through a jobber, Sentiero Group, Inc. (Taiwan), which makes it somewhat difficult to determine the actual manufacturer(s) of the brokered faucets. However, we have been able to identify most of its manufacturers, including:
• Senzhen Ke Hua Xing Industrial Ltd., (China), which in addition to supplying sinks, appears to be Artisan's primary faucet manufacturer, delivering over 10 gross tons of faucets to Artisan in 2015;
• Yuh Chang Hardware Co., Ltd. (Taiwan) which also manufactures for
• (Guangzhou) Seagull Kitchen and Bath Products Co. Ltd., (China) which makes the AF-220-SN kitchen faucet; and
These manufacturers are well-regarded ISO-9001-certified companies with good reputations for producing quality products.
Artisan faucets are not all brass. They are "all metal" as stated in company literature, but some of the metal is not brass. The faucets we examined had brass bodies and spouts, but zinc or ZAMAK (a zinc/aluminum alloy, often called "pot metal") handles and ancillary parts. Zinc is not as durable as brass, and is more likely to fail, but is quite suitable for use in non-critical parts. We did not find zinc in the critical mechanics of the faucets we examined.
Plastic is another matter. The spray heads on at lest some Artisan pull-down and pull-out faucets are plastic. Plastic spray heads are quickly becoming the norm in the industry because the material does not transmit heat like brass, and does not get uncomfortably hot in use. Even upscale manufacturers such as have started using them. But, they typically have lots of problems and generate a lot of complaints. Avoid them if possible. Brass or zinc spray heads are typically more expensive, but worth the extra cost.
We did not examine every pull-out and pull-down faucet in the Artisan lineup — our budget does not stretch that far — so we cannot say that all Artisan pull-down and pull-out sprays are plastic, but we know that some are.
The faucets are available in three plated finishes: polished chrome, satin nickel (intended to match its nickel silver sink finish), and what the company calls "antique bronze" or, sometimes, "antique brass", which is very close if not identical to what is usually called "oil rubbed bronze". Only one faucet is available in all three finishes. Nickel seems to be the favored finish in the Artisan faucet lineup. The more durable, but also more expensive, finishes are not available from Artisan. Nor are stainless steel faucets, which is sort of strange as these would be the perfect mates for the company's stainless steel sinks (but they also tend to show fingerprints, which may be what the use of nickel seeks to avoid).
The style range is broad. There are just a dozen discrete faucet styles in the Artisan lineup2, but they nicely straddle all style groups from traditional to modestly contemporary, hitting most of the stops in-between. There is probably an Artisan style to fit your decor, whatever it is. But, if your objective is to find a faucet to match your new Artisan sink, you have a raft of choices available from other faucet companies. You are not limited to the small number of Artisan faucets.
The company's faucet warranty is below the North American standard "lifetime" warranty on all faucet components pioneered by and adopted by all major domestic faucet companies and most importers. Artisan offers a "lifetime" warranty only on the "mechanical parts" of its faucets, and just 5 years on its finishes. The term "mechanical parts" is not defined, but in context we take it to mean all parts of a faucet other than finishes. Download Artisan's Faucet Warranty(.pdf).
The cartridges used in Artisan faucets are good Chinese ceramic cartridges made by Sedal S.L.U.. Sedal is chartered in Spain, but does all of its manufacturing in its two facilities in China: Sedal Technical Ceramics in Jiangmen and Sedal Kaiping. The Sedal cartridge is a favorite of Chinese manufacturers making faucets for the European and North American markets. We judge it to be a good cartridge that should give reliable service for many years. If it does develop a problem, replacement cartridges are widely available and in most faucets, easy to remove and replace with simple household tools. (For more information on what makes a quality cartridge, see Faucet Valves & Cartridges.)
Its plated finishes are an area in which Artisan could safely have a little more confidence in its own products and provide a warranty that better protects its customers. Ten or fifteen years ago there were concerns about the durability of plating applied by Chinese manufacturers, but the days of being able to scrape off "China chrome" with a fingernail have long since passed. Chinese decorative plating is now as durable as any in the world. Of course, Artisan may know something about its faucet plating that we don't. And, since Artisan seems to have concerns about its finish durability, then perhaps we should also, and look to another faucet company until Artisan finds a faucet supplier that can provide its faucets with a lifetime finish.
To be fair to Artisan's manufacturers, however, we don't believe Artisan's evident lack of complete faith in its faucets is caused by issues with manufacturing. It is more likely due to the fact that faucets are a new product for Artisan, and it is still feeling its way in a market in which it is not yet fully comfortable. Certainly, Artisan's management has yet to figure out how to get the most out of its faucet warranty as a marketing tool.
There are essentially two approaches to warranties in the faucet business. The first approach tries to minimize the cost of warranty service to its irreducible minimum and insulate the company as much as possible from liability for a failed product. This is the bean-counter approach, the tack favored by accountants and chief financial officers. This describes Artisan's warranty exactly. The other, and better, approach is to use the power of a good warranty to drive sales — figuring (correctly) that any additional cost of providing a first-class warranty will be more than offset by additional sales revenue that a first-class warranty generates.
This is the Moen approach. Moen, one of the first major faucet companies in the U.S. to offer a lifetime warranty on its products, figured out early that a good warranty and strong back-end support would substantially increase sales on the front end. It worked. Its warranty helped boost Moen from a little-known bit player in the 1950's to the second largest faucet company in the U.S., behind Delta Faucets, by the 1970s. (The companies are now neck and neck for the number one slot, each having about 30% of the U.S. faucet market.)
The loyalty of Moen customers is legendary. It is nearly impossible to talk a Moen customer out of a Moen faucet, shower or tub filler — not that we try. Artisan needs to take a leaf from Moen's play book and start looking at its warranty as an opportunity to build sales and forge customer loyalty rather than strictly as a nuisance liability to be minimized as much as possible.
Like a number of other Asia-Marketeers such as Artisan downplays the fact that its products are all or mostly all of Asian manufacture to help foster the impression that they are American-made without ever actually saying so. It consistently declares itself to be a "manufacturer" with a "state-of-the-art" manufacturing technology — a statement that appears in every press release, in every catalog and on its website in several places. This is the sort of puffery that corporations engage in, and it is probably not more than mildly deceptive3.
The company stops short, however, of an outright declaration that its products are made in the U.S. Such a declaration would attract the attention of the Federal Trade Commission whose "Made in U.S.A" rules are enforced with hefty fines. The fact that Artisan does not explicitly claim "Made In U.S.A." status for its sinks and faucets tells us for certain that its products are not, in fact, made in U.S.A.
Any faucet-maker who actually manufactures or even assembles faucets in the U.S. or Canada trumpets the fact widely, loudly and at every opportunity. It is a powerful selling feature. Consider, for example, Even the Japanese-owned American Standard Brands which manufactures more than 99% of its American Standard products somewhere other than in North America, promotes its few remaining "Made in U.S.A." products as often as it can find the opportunity to do so.
Artisan leases the right to use the venerable American brand name, Frigidaire, on its kitchen sinks and faucets from Electrolux Home Products, Inc. 4 Its Frigidaire Professional Series brand of "high-end" kitchen sinks and faucets was launched in 2012 and sold through appliance retailers like A J Madison, on-line plumbing retailers like Build.com and big box lumber stores such as Home Depot and Lowes.
The sinks are still available, but the faucets. made by Lota International Co., Ltd. (China), have disappeared from the market as of the date of this review.
In 2010 the U.S. Department of Energy initiated an action against Artisan Manufacturing Corp., Inc. to assess a civil penalty for failing to fire the required statement to the DOE certifying that its faucets met the water conservation standard imposed by the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. The company entered into a compromise agreement5 to avoid a potential half-million dollar civil penalty. It does not appear to have learned from the experience as the company does still does have the required certifications on file as of the date of this report.
There are over 200 brands of Asian-sourced faucets for sale in North America, with more popping up every week. Most are of substantially the same quality and very similar, if not identical in design to Artisan faucets. We can't possibly keep track of them all, but here are some of the faucet companies we have reviewed that import reasonable quality faucets, comparable to Artisan's products.
If you have had an experience with an Artisan faucet, — good, bad or indifferent — that you would like to share, please drop us a note or post a comment below.
1. From Artisan's 2015 on-line mini catalog: "Artisan Manufacturing Corp., a world-class manufacturer of high quality sinks and faucets assures you that our products are designed and manufactured to our exacting quality standards. We pride ourselves on our manufacturing process and state-of-the-art technology" (Emphasis supplied).
2. Artisan claims to offer 17 faucet models, but it is counting each additional faucet finish as a separate different model.
3. "A big lie may be fraud, but a little lie is just advertising." Attributed to Jerry Della Femina, American advertising executive and restaurateur, believed to be the inspiration for the television series Mad Men.
4. AG Electrolux (never an American company despite the familiarity of its vacuum cleaner brand in the U.S.) owns a number of former American brands including Eureka, Kelvenator, Tappen and Westinghouse as well as Frigidaire. It uses these names to brand its appliances, but also rents them out to other companies for use on their non-appliance products. Artisan has rented the name Frigidaire for use with its sinks and faucets, but otherwise has no connection with the brand or the former Frigidaire corporation. For more information, see "Don't Buy The Brand" in the article Kitchen Remodeling on the Cheap.
5. DOE/Artisan Compromise Agreement, Case Number 2101-CW-0712, September 15, 2010 (Download PDF).