|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
MR Direct, Inc.
7610 New West Rd.
Toledo Ohio 43617
(Meets North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
MR Direct, Inc. is an Ohio corporation chartered in 2004. Its main business is the importation and selling of kitchen and bath sinks. Faucets are secondary to its sink business making up less than 10% of the company's imports. Its sole faucet supplier is Kaiping Promise Plumbing Co. Ltd., a well-established Chinese OEM/ODM manufacturer that has a good reputation in the industry for quality manufacturing.
MR Direct faucets are certified safe, reliable, and lead free, but the statement required by the Energy Policy & Conservation Act certifying that MR Direct faucets comply with the maximum flow limit of 2.2 gallons per minute for sink faucets has not been filed with the U.S. Department of Energy. MR Direct faucets may not be legally imported, sold or offered for sale in the U.S. until the required statements are filed.
MR Direct, Inc. is an Ohio corporation chartered in 2004. It commonly trades as MR Direct International Distributors® and MR Direct Sinks & Faucets® both registered trade names. Its main business is the importation and selling of kitchen and bath sinks which it buys in China, Malaysia and Germany1.
Faucets are secondary to its sink business making up less than 10% of the company's imports. However, they are significant enough to be organized under a separate, subsidiary company, Sir Faucet, LLC. The faucets are sold under two brands: MR Direct® and Sir Faucets® sometimes abbreviated to just "Sir".
Its sole faucet supplier is Kaiping Promise Plumbing Co. Ltd., a well-established Chinese manufacturer that sells its own Promise brand of faucets throughout Asia. It also supplies faucets to
Kaiping is an excellent choice of manufacturer. It has a good reputation in the industry for quality manufacturing, specializing in what are called monoblock faucets. Instead of casting the faucet in a mold, it is machined out of a solid block of brass. Some industry observers believe that this method of manufacturing results in a more robust faucet less likely to leak.
Sir faucets are neither designed expressly for nor unique to MR Direct. They are catalog faucets, straight out its manufacturer's standard inventory. They are not leading edge designs. Chinese designs rarely are. They tend to be middle-of-the-road and to follow the pack rather than lead it. The goal of Chinese faucet manufacturers is to sell as many faucets as possible, which means keeping their designs well within the mainstream to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible. Few design adventures take place in China.2
MR Direct's line of faucets is heavily slanted toward traditional and transitions styles, the best-selling styles in North America. Only a few are contemporary. Its finishes are limited to the standards: bright chrome, brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze. The oil rubbed bronze finish is a little more "coppery" than most we have seen, and is unlikely to be a good match to the ORB finishes offered by most other manufacturers. So, be careful trying to mix and match across companies.
The cartridges commonly used in Kaiping Promise faucets are made either by Sedal S.L.U. or Kuching International, Ltd., which sells KCG cartridges manufactured in Taiwan. Sedal is chartered in Spain, but manufactures in China at two facilities: Sedal Technical Ceramics in Jiangmen and Sedal Kaiping. We judge it a good cartridge that should give reliable service for many years. The KCG cartridge is generally considered a small step down in quality. Both are favorites of Chinese and Taiwanese companies manufacturing faucets destined for North American buyers, in no small part because they have been extensively tested and certified to U.S. and Canadian standards. One of Sedal's products, the Thedra high-flow cartridge, won a prestigious Red Dot award in 2016 for industrial design. As far as we can tell, it is the only faucet cartridge ever to do so.
MR Direct sells faucets over the internet at two proprietary websites: MR Direct and Sir Faucets, as well as through online plumbing suppliers and a variety of general merchandising sites such as Amazon, ATG Stores, Overstock, Wal-Mart and Sears Online. Its websites are well designed and intuitive to navigate. The MR Direct site is clearly slanted toward selling sinks, with faucets a secondary product. The Sir Faucet website emphasizes sink faucets but also sells tub fillers, showers and accessories.
The MR Direct website is visually cluttered and could use some updating. Its densely packed pages sometimes make it hard to immediately focus on the important parts of a page. Both sites contain adequate information about MR Direct faucets, including a much-appreciated 360° rotating image so every aspect of every faucet is easily viewed. But, the information could be made even more adequate by adding an exploded parts diagram and more detailed specifications about each faucet, including the cartridge used (not just "ceramic cartridge" or "1/4 turn cartridge", but the actual manufacturer). Each faucet can be displayed in all of its available finishes, and is linked to matching accessories, if any are available. At the moment only a few are available.
Shipping is not included in the price of a faucet, and is an extra charge. An estimate of shipping charges, calculated by ZIP code is available before checking out. It's usually very reasonable: between $12-$17 for shipping to the continental U.S.
Both web sites do a lot of comparisons to competitor faucets. Most of the time, we find product correlations self-serving: pairing with competition faucets of better quality or with more features so the competition product is almost certain to be more costly. So, we did a little comparison-shopping on our own. What we found was that the comparisons are actually justified in most instances, closely matching feature to feature and quality to quality.
Here, is a randomly selected example from our own comparison-shopping: The MR Direct warranty is standard for the U.S. and Canada: a limited "lifetime" warranty. Of course, lifetime warranties are not actually for your lifetime. They usually last only as long as the original buyer owns the faucet and are not transferable to a subsequent owner.
The warranty is refreshing in its straightforward language devoid of all legalese and tricky loopholes. MR Direct very simply promises that its faucets will be "be free from defects in material and workmanship under normal use for the lifetime of the product." In the section on the company's "return policy" is the statement that the company will "first attempt to find an on site fix by phone or sending replacement parts. If the fix cannot be done on site, we will take back the faucet, fix it and return it at no cost to the customer." What the company actually does, in most cases, is simply replace the faucet with a new one so you are not left without a faucet for days and weeks.
We also like the company's customer service, ably managed by Erin Zdybek. Our testers found it to be knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and forthright in dealing with our (completely imaginary) faucet problems. The company scored 4.3 out of a possible 5 points In our service tests, losing points only because our callers had to leave voice messages several times — which were promptly returned, but it is still an annoyance to have to wait for someone to call back, and a clear indication that customer service is under staffed. Our one contact by e-mail did not result in a response within 24 hours, which is our outside limit. Under eight hours scores points, over 24 hours loses points, and anything in between is neutral, neither gaining nor losing.
The Better Business Bureau agrees with our assessment. The company is accredited by the BBB, which rates it A+, its highest score, for handling customer issues promptly.
In our judgment, this is a company worth doing business with. There is no one big thing that makes MR Direct stand out from its dozens of competitors. It's a bunch of little things that, in total, create an overall impression of friendliness, honesty and fair dealing: a straightforward warranty; helpful, responsive support; and a forthright presentation of the company and its products.
MR Direct does not try to embellish its credentials. Unlike other importers such as MR Direct presents itself as nothing more exotic than an importer of carefully selected, fully certified faucets, made with quality components by a well-regarded manufacturer that it sells at value prices.
These are certainly not the best faucets sold. They are not hand-made Swiss faucets or high-design German craft-shop faucets. But, they don't sell for Swiss hand-made or German craft-shop prices either. These are nicely styled, good quality, mass-produced, assembly-line faucets, fairly priced and, for the price, an excellent value.
We would not hesitate to consider a MR Direct faucet for a busy kitchen or bathroom in our own homes with considerable confidence in both the product and the company. We looked real hard, but we just cannot find anything about this company that is not to like.
Imported Chinese and Taiwanese faucets comparable to those sold by MR Direct include: We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Sir Faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.
1. In the past 18 months, MR Direct has purchased sinks from:
• Schock GmbH (Germany/Belarus): Composite sinks.
• JKY Sink Sdn (Malaysia): Stainless steel sinks.
• Outfeite Kitchen and Bath Co. Ltd. (China): Porcelain sinks.
• Shinra Sdn Bhd (Malaysia): Stainless steel sinks.
• Top Home I E Co., Ltd. (China): Copper sinks and accessories.
• Union Earn Ltd. (China): Stainless steel sinks, sink accessories.
2. This situation may be changing. Chinese designers are beginning to be noticed for faucet designs that are becoming competitive with the best European and American designs. In 2007 Yatin Bath Corporation's Power faucet created by in-house designer Yu Qing, won the prestigious German iF design award. The Affability faucet designed in China by SPRGO Design for won the award in 2015. Jomoo Kitchen & Bath Appliances Co., Ltd., has won six iF awards since 2010, many in collaboration with SPRGO Design.