|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
19701 Da Vinci
Lake Forest, California 92610
(Below North American Standard)
A pioneering faucet company founded in Southern California in 1910 by Emil Price and William Pfister under the name Price-Pfister, Inc., it was, until recently, a
division of Stanley Black & Decker Hardware & Home Improvement Group, and renamed just "Pfister". Not a nice thing to do to a proud and famous faucet name that is still the number five faucet company in the U.S., behind Delta, Moen, Kohler and American Standard. It has about 9% of the U.S. market and about 2% of the world market.
Price Pfister blossomed in the Post-WWII building boom when its Crown Jewel model became one of the best selling faucets in the U.S. When the post-war new construction boom tapered off in the 1980s, the company was purchased by its president, Peter Gold, and refocused toward the growing market for stylish replacement faucets, simple to install by do-it-yourselfers, to compete with European imports. Price-Pfister introduced new decorative finishes including antiqued bronze, polished brass and black nickel. It also began a well-remembered radio and television advertising campaign developed by L.A. ad agency Eisaman, Johns and Laws, with a tag line that played off of the company name: "Price Pfister, the pfabulous pfaucet with the pfunny name."
By 1987 the company had captured 14% of the U.S. faucet market, and was taken public on NASDAQ. That same year it introduced "Pforever Seal" a new ceramic cartridge guaranteed against leaks for the owner's lifetime. In 1988 a majority of the stock in Pfister was sold to Emhart Corp., which, in 1989 was acquired in turn by Black & Decker, an acquisition that, for Price-Pfister, was a disaster.
In 1960 Pfister had built the largest foundry west of the Mississippi, in Pacoima, California, which manufactured the company's faucets for most of 40 years, making 1,500 faucets a day at its peak and employing 1,600 Americans. But, in 1997 Black & Decker shuttered the plant and moved its manufacturing operations to Mexicali, Mexico, along with all the jobs, a move that resulted in a national boycott of its products, protests and even a hunger strike by laid-off workers that made front page news across the country.
The Mexicali plant is mostly an assembly and finishing operation at which parts and components made mostly in China are assembled, finished and packaged for the North American markets. We believe based on research into certification and import records that the plant makes shower and tub fixtures, but no sink faucets. Pfister does not manufacture or even assemble a single faucet in the U.S. or Canada, and has not done so since 2003. In fact, Pfister no longer manufactures its own sink faucets at all. All of Pfister's sink faucets are made by foreign manufacturers under contract to Pfister. The majority of its faucets are made in China and a small number in Italy.
Phister's faucet manufacturers include:
The faucet line includes a broad array of mid-range, mid-price faucets including a filtering faucet that combines hot, cold and filtered water in one faucet. Most of its line is good quality brass, but it does cut a corner here and there in its low-priced products — so read the product specifications before buying. Indications of a lower quality faucet include use use of plastic or ZAMAK parts. All Pfister faucets are available finished in polished chrome. Most are also available in other finishes such as stainless steel, brushed nickel, bronze and black, but it largely depends on what finishes the individual manufacturers of the faucets can provide. Pfister's newest finish is Slate, a sort of dark chrome.
There had been persistent rumors circulating since 2010 that Pfister would be put on the market by Stanley. On December 17, 2012 Spectrum Brands Holdings, Inc. announced that it had acquired Stanley's Hardware and Home Improvement (HHI) Division, which includes Pfister faucets as well as Kwikset, Weiser and Baldwin locks; and National Hardware.
Spectrum Brands is a consumer products company that sells a number of familiar brands, including the George Foreman Grill, Rayovac batteries, Toastmaster and Black & Decker small appliances. It was bought out of bankruptcy in 2009 by Harbinger Group, Inc., a private equity holding company, and just became profitable again in 2012. HHI will operate as a separate unit under its current management.
The sale may be a good thing. Stanley Black & Decker never did quite figure out what to do with Pfister, which was not a good fit with its basic tool-making businesses. Most likely Pfister will continue as is, at least for a while. But, we suggest that any decision to buy a Pfister faucet be deferred until this process shakes out a little. Hopefully the new owner will have, at minimum, the good sense to ditch "just Pfister" and return to the venerable Price-Pfister nameplate.
For Kwikset, Weiser and Baldwin employees, it may not be such a good deal. It looks very much as though the new owners intend to shift manufacturing of these brands overseas. The pending sale includes the purchase of certain unspecified "assets" of Tong Lung Metal Industry Co. Ltd. a Taiwanese manufacturer of residential and commercial locksets with manufacturing plants in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Warranty and post-sale customer support is, at best, spotty. Our experience with the company's customer service has been fair to good, and the company scored fairly well in our customer service tests, but we have received a large number of consumer complaints about the company's service that suggests that the problem is more than just occasional. The most common problem is slow delivery of replacement parts, even after customers pay the company to have the parts expedited. There is obviously a disconnect between the ordering and warehouse processing. Another customer complained that her replacement faucet was supposedly shipped three times before she actually got it after contacting Pfister no less than 12 times. The customer service problems developed when the company was owned by Black & Decker, but do not seem to have improved under the ownership of Spectrum Brands. The second most common complaint was missing or incorrect parts shipped with the faucet, missing installation instructions, and defective parts right out of the box, including, in one instance, a tube of lubricant that was completely empty of lubricant. Clearly the company has some serious quality control problems for this kind of situation to exist.
These are Chinese faucets with a leavening of a very few Italian-made faucets from Paini. Some are good, some very bad, and it's not possible to tell which is which. In effect, the purchase of a Pfister faucet is a gamble — a role of the dice. You may get a good, reliable faucet that will last a lifetime, or you may get one that leaks out of the box. We are taking a wait-and-see position in the hopes that under Spectrum Brands the company will start to take care of its quality and customer service issues. But, until matters improve, we strongly suggest that you look elsewhere for a mid-priced faucet.
American faucets comparable to Pfister include
If you have had an experience with a (Price) Pfister faucet, — good, bad or indifferent — that you would like to share, please contact us or post a comment below.