|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Compass Manufacturing International, LLC
6702 Enterprise Dr.
Louisville, Kentucky 40214
(800) 626 3525
(Meets North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Compass Manufacturing International, LLC (CMI) is a marketing company that imports Chinese-made plumbing fixtures and kitchen stove vents that it distributes in the U.S. It supplies store brand Tuscany faucets to Menards stores and distributes Freendo private label faucets to plumbing supply stores and a limited number of internet sellers.
Compass Manufacturing International, LLC (CMI) is a Kentucky limited liability company organized in 2011. It is owned by 5G Global Partners Inc., originally formed in Wyoming in 2011. De Chang (Danny) Li (or Lee) is the largest shareholder in 5G along with several citizens of the Peoples Republic of China and Michael E. Wolfe, its President. Mr. Wolfe is also CMI's CEO.
The Wyoming corporation was merged with a newly created Kentucky corporation of the same name in 2016. The Wyoming corporation is no longer active.
The company is an importer and distributor of bath fixtures and accessories under its own registered private labels: Bala® (sinks), Canton® (enamel & porcelain bathware) and Freendo® (faucets). It also distributes TruVent® kitchen range vents. All of these are made in China.
CMI sells Freendo faucets made by Kaiping Freendo Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd., an established manufacturer. It is a division of Huayi Group which is a collection of companies involved in some manner in the production of inexpensive faucets, shower systems, tub fillers and accessories. These include Huayi Plumbing Fittings Industry, Co., Kaiping Euopea Plumbing Apparatus Co., Giada Star Sanitary Ware Co., Huayi Plating Factory, and Huayi Die-Casting Factory as well as Freendo Sanitary Ware. Huayi sells faucets throughout Asia under the Freendo brand. In the U.S., however, the Freendo brand is owned by CMI which means that only CMI can sell faucets under the Freendo brand name on this side of the Pacific.
CMI also supplies Huayi Freendo faucets to Menard's stores which sells them under its in-store brand, brand directly to consumers through Jandon's retail web site. DC Worldwide is another company in which De Chang (Danny) Li holds, or once held, an ownership interest.
Huayi's Freendo faucets are what we think of as basic Chinese faucets — stylish but by no means extraordinary in any way. Traditionally, Chinese designs are rarely cutting edge. The goal of Chinese faucet manufacturers is to sell as many faucets as possible, which means keeping designs well within established limits to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Chinese designs are typically adopted from Europe and the U.S. It does not take long for a design that sells well in these major markets to be imitated by Asian factories. The lag time is usually 3 to 5 years, by which time, of course, innovative designs are no longer new.
But, that may be changing. Some Chinese manufacturers are getting noticed for their fresh and sometimes stunning designs. Among these are Yatin Bath Corporation, Ltd. which has won a place in several European design competitions since 2011; Bravat (China), Ltd. winner of a 2015 Red Dot award for its Affability Faucet. Xiamen Solex Hightech was awarded a prestigious IF Design prize for its striking Smooth faucet, and Zhejiang Jego Sanitaryware Co., Ltd. also took a 2016 IF award for the high-tech Line kitchen faucet that dispenses both filtered and non-filtered water from the same fixture.
Many Freendo faucets are sold in North America by companies other than CMI, although not under the Freendo name. Only CMI can legally sell Freendo faucets under the Freendo nameplate. In addition to Huayi-made Tuscany faucets sold by Menards stores, we know that some faucets sold by Northern Central Distributing as Import records show that these companies buy their faucets directly from Huayi rather than through CMI.
The mechanics of Freendo faucets are about average or a little above. While the faucet bodies are usually all brass, handles are often the less expensive zinc or a zinc/aluminum alloy called ZAMAK. The faucets use a mix of ceramic cartridges, all made in China, but not marked with a manufacturer's stamp or other identifying marks. China and Taiwan have some excellent ceramic cartridge manufacturers that have gained a worldwide reputation for quality products. Most of these proudly place an identifing maker's mark on their cartridges. The fact that these cartridges have no identifying marks suggests that they are probably not from one of the first rank manufacturers. Without marks, Asian cartrides are often difficult to identify.
Based solely on appearance, we believe that some cartridges are supplied by Sedal S.L.U., a company chartered and headquartered in Spain, but actually manufacturing in China. The Sedal cartridge is not a first rank cartridge, but is considered reliable. It is very popular among Chinese manufacturers of economy and mid-priced faucets. Another likely manufacturer is Kaiping Yizhan Valve Core Co.,Ltd., also a chinese manufacturer of mid-quality ceramic cartridges.
The CMI website is clearly directed toward its wholesale customers. The company does not sell faucets directly to consumers through its website. Its list prices are not even displayed on its website and you need to be a wholesale customer to get a copy of its price list. But, the site is a good place to get in-depth information about Freendo faucets other than prices.
The site is well laid out with intuitive navigation. The information about its Freendo faucets is reasonably adequate — typically a single image — although a lot of images are "coming soon" and have been coming soon for quite a while) — a brief description of the faucet. There are links to detailed specifications, installation instructions, and the available finishes. The downloadable (.pdf) installation instructions contain an exploded parts diagram and the specifications include a dimensioned drawing — very useful for determining whether a faucet will fit your sink. The installation sheet is detailed. Our plumbers rated installation "Easy" on a scale from Very Hard to Very Easy. There is a list of each faucets certifications which is very helpful in determining whether a faucet is ADA qualified or Watersense® approved.
If clicking through the web site proves too tedious, CMI also has its entire faucet catalog available for download in .pdf format.
Finishes are limited to polished chrome, brushed nickel and oiled bronze. Huayi has its own dedicated plating company and can provide faucets in many "exotic" finishes such as copper or polished brass, and such as chrome/brass and chrome/black. CMI, however, does not appear to import these special finishes.
A limited selection of Freendo faucets are sold on Amazon.com, Sears.com and at other, lesser known, on-line retailers such as HisWarehouse.net, but Freendo's principal outlets are small, local, unaffiliated brick and mortar plumbing supply stores. Evidently, a part of its agreement with these stores is that CMI will not sell the faucets on the internet. This does not prevent local suppliers from selling them on their web sites, but typically they don't. If they do, they usually don't publish prices on the web so a potential buyer has to call the store to get a price. The faucets are not yet being sold by national plumbing supply chains such as Ferguson and Hajoca.
The company's warranty is average for the North American market, promising to replace defective parts and components for as long as the original buyer owns the faucet and the residence in which the faucet was initially installed. We have not tested the company's customer service response, relying instead on the company's Better Business rating of A+. The company has never had a complaint filed against it, a very enviable record. The company is not, however, accredited by the BBB and has, therefore, not undergone BBB vetting.
Imported faucets comparable to Freendo include Without more information about their cartridges, we would not be comfortable installing these faucets in a busy kitchen or main bath. But, as a secondary faucet in a little used guest bath or bar they are probably more than good enough — and the price is certainly right. The Freendo defect rate is reported to be low, but the company is too new this point for us to arrive at any firm conclusions. We are continuing to research the CMI and its Freendo faucets. If you have experience with Freendo faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.