A Family Culture

Plumbing products manufacturer maintains strong connection with customers by listening to what they want and need

A Family Culture

Mansfield Plumbing Products employee Randy Oswalt places lavatories on a shelf during the manufacturing process at the company’s facility in Ohio. (Photos courtesy of Mansfield Plumbing Products)

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Having a passion for anything bathroom-related is what has helped Mansfield Plumbing Products maintain a strong relationship with its customers for 90-plus years, and the company doesn’t have plans to stop that anytime soon.

Mansfield, headquartered in Perrysville, Ohio, operates a plant in Henderson, Texas, with more than 600 employees combined. The company’s current lineup of products includes toilets, lavatories and urinals, toilet tank trim, and acrylic air baths, whirlpools, bathtubs and shower bases.

Phil Cunningham, vice president of marketing for Mansfield, says a big part of the success has been the company’s passion and family culture. That has held steady in this unique time of a pandemic as the company works more on wholesalers’ digital initiatives and focuses on training plumbers and wholesalers.

Plumber: Since Mansfield’s founding in 1929, what has kept the company going all these years?

Cunningham: Mansfield’s 90-plus-year heritage is something we are all proud of, and being able to add a year to that legacy is the overall driver to our continued success. However, we can break that motivation into three categories: the first, Mansfield is a family in a small, rural community. In some cases, we are literally family, as we have many workers who have relatives here now or who had worked here at some point. The entire Mansfield team, whether it is in central Ohio or East Texas, works together to support each other like a family. So many small companies strive for the idealistic family culture. We achieved it almost a century ago and maintain it today.

Second, we are passionate about toilets and bathtubs. That passion is rooted in our simplicity. We keep a minimized product line, a classic universal design in our products and essentially the same manufacturing process since the beginning. While our team has designed new technologies, identified efficiencies in manufacturing and found ways to conserve water, we are still passionate about putting a product in the bathrooms across America. 

So our passion and family culture lead to the third driver of our success. Our customers have thrived throughout the years as well, and we have been fortunate to be a part of that. It is not uncommon to sit down with one of our wholesale partners and hear anecdotes about the founders of Mansfield and how we helped them through the early days of their distribution. So many of our partners have found the same culture we have, and that builds trust between our organizations. We have also been blessed with a loyal base of plumbers, and we recognize that a significant part of their business is based on installing simple products that perform every time a family needs it to. And families rarely say, “Hey that toilet is the greatest,” but they will be vocal if the toilet doesn’t perform. We have built trust with our plumbers by giving a lot of the former and little of the latter.

Plumber: The last several years there has been a big push from plumbers and homeowners wanting more green products or products being more green. What has Mansfield done to give them what they want?

Cunningham: We look at the concept of green products holistically. So many toilet manufacturers tout ultra-high-efficiency toilets, but if you have to flush twice to get all the debris out, how efficient are your products? Mansfield approaches it a bit differently. We want to give you a product that takes the least amount of the water per use, uses the fewest natural resources to manufacture, and reduces the carbon footprint of the logistics process. We have products that use the optimal amount of water to get rid of the waste in the bowl the first time. We recycle the heat from our kilns to power our dryers, reducing the amount of natural gas we consume. Finally, our products ship directly out of the Ohio or Texas locations, reducing the need to contract ocean freighters or long-haul trucking.

Plumber: On the company’s website, there is a resources tab for customers. What does that do for Mansfield?

Cunningham: In January of this year, we launched the Mansfield Pro Center. This accomplished two objectives for us. First, the main website can be geared to talk to the consumer in layman’s terms. Second, it allows us to share more technical data directly with our professionals in an organized manner. Our members of the Pro Center get access to various content depending on their relationship with Mansfield. Our wholesalers get access to product training, marketing assets, new product launches and other pieces that help them sell. Our plumbers and contractors get CAD files, spec sheets, training videos and other information that make it easier to use the products.

Plumber: What types of changes have you seen in the design/manufacturing of toilets, urinals and lavatories in the past couple years?

Cunningham: Each of those categories sees its own changes and innovations. Toilets have three conflicting design changes happening: The first is in water conservation, the second is focused on the rinse and the third is adding complex technology to enhance the user’s experience. So you see companies finding their niche in of those three categories. Urinals continue to find ways to reduce water consumption. The consumer is demanding more and more nontraditional materials for their lavatories and using those fixtures as a central statement in their bathrooms. The therapy and comfort of jetted tubs are being sacrificed for larger showers, while free-standing soaking tubs also become the design focal point of the master bathroom.

Plumber: What types of “wants” are you getting from your customers? What would they like to see with your products?

Cunningham: In the current situation, we are getting a lot of requests to support wholesalers’ digital initiatives and also to utilize some of this “home” time to conduct training. 

Plumber: What can we expect out of Mansfield for the rest of 2020 and into 2021? 

Cunningham: This next 18 months are going to be focused on keeping our American families healthy. We can support our customers with American products in the post-pandemic era. Like everyone else globally, we are faced with a ton of questions and only a few speculative answers. We will be working with our loyal plumber base to understand how their business changes and how we can help them get into homes and job sites to do what they do best, safely and efficiently. 


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