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July 30, 2014

Bus tour brings latest in toilets to metro Detroit

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Bus tour brings latest in toilets to metro Detroit
Kohler Trust the Flush Tour Director Steven Purlewitz talks about the Numi, a comfort-height, one-piece elongated toilet with built-in bidet. The tour uses a 45-foot RV to house a replica of the company’s toilet test lab in Wisconsin.

With maybe a few exceptions, it’s the device that gets the most use in a home, though most people don’t give their humble commodes much thought until they need replacing.

Well, toilets aren’t so humble anymore.

As part of the yearlong Trust the Flush tour, the Kohler Co. put a replica of its toilet test lab in a 45-foot custom RV, and that RV stopped by the Michigan Design Center in Troy July 23 to meet with plumbers, contractors and designers.

“It showcases the latest and greatest in Kohler’s toilet technology,” said Jenifer Bielecki, sales executive for Kohler.

“Every year, Kohler hosts a large number of trade professionals at its headquarters in Wisconsin,” Kohler marketing manager Beth Bouck said in a prepared statement. “We receive very positive feedback from the toilet test lab portion of the experience. The mobile training program allows us to take the test lab out of Wisconsin and bring it right to the trade where they live and work.”

Steven Perlewitz, Kohler spokesman, talked about the toilets on the tour.

He said the new “touchless” flush models are garnering a lot of attention on the tour.

The star of the show was the Numi brand, a square-shaped assembly that automatically lifts out of the ground when someone walks up to it, raises and lowers the seat by sensor (for males) if desired, and flushes without a touch — twice, if needed. The Numi also has a charcoal filter in the flushing mechanism to eliminate odor, a heated seat, a warm floor where one’s feet would be, and a bidet with adjustable water pressure.

“It’s good for marriages,” Perlewitz quipped.

“Also, an ultraviolet light at a set time of two hours shines on the bidet to kill germs,” Perlewitz said. The Numi comes equipped with an FM radio and Bluetooth capability.

“Everyone seems to be drawn to it,” he said. The Numi is priced at more than $6,000.

A wall-mounted toilet, now popular in Europe, is starting to gain popularity here, Perlewitz said.

“It’s easy to clean around,” he said. The cost of the one on tour was approximately $4,000. Other modes of Kohler wall-mounted toilets retail for less and start at about $150-$175, according to the Kohler website, www.kohler.com.

The San Souci model, which Perlewitz said is Kohler’s newest model, is a no-lever, auto-flush, floor-mounted toilet that sells for about $900.

“It’s very compact and clean,” he said.

Lee Lancaster, marketing and events manager for the Michigan Design Center, explained that although Kohler products are only available for purchase on-site to contractors, designers and building trade professionals at two of the design center’s showrooms — Baker Knapp & Tubbs and Ann Sacks — anyone may come in and look at products in the showrooms during regular business hours.

“Bathrooms and kitchens tend to be the most important rooms of homes,” Lancaster said. “Decisions we make about those spaces are so important. Working through a design professional makes the process easier, more fun, and ensures you make the smartest investment.”

The Michigan Design Center is located at 1700 Stutz Drive in Troy and offers more than 1,000 brands of furniture, fabrics, lighting and accessories in more than 30 showrooms. Do-it-yourselfers can find a list of Kohler retailers throughout metro Detroit online at www.kohler.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.