Pfister (firm)

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Price Pfister
Type Subsidiary
Industry Sink and plumbing fixtures
Founded 1910
Founder(s) Emil Price
William Pfister
Parent Spectrum Brands Holdings Incorporated
Website http://www.pfisterfaucets.com/

Pfister, called Price Pfister until 2010, is a manufacturer of bathroom and lavatory faucets, shower systems, showerheads, and accessories and kitchen faucets and other plumbing fixtures. Emil Price and William Pfister founded the company in 1910. Today, Price Pfister is owned by Spectrum Brands Holdings Incorporated Hardware and Home Improvement Group.

History[edit]

Price Pfister was founded by Emil Price and William Pfister in 1910,[1] when the company introduced its first product, a garden faucet. Over the next decade, the Price Pfister’s product line expanded to include other types of faucets, valves, and hose nozzles for indoor sinks and bathtubs. Aside from producing plumbing fixtures, during WWI and WWII, Price Pfister produced military items such as aircraft fittings and hand grenade shells.

During the postwar housing boom in the late 1940s, Price Pfister began to specialize in residential products. The company became a household name after the widespread popularity of their Crown Jewel faucet line in 1950.

From 1960-1970, Price Pfister accelerated in growth, starting with the construction of a 25 acres (100,000 m2) manufacturing plant in Pacoima, California, which became the largest foundry West of the Mississippi. Toward late 1960s Norris Industries, Inc. acquired Price Pfister and renamed it to Price Pfister Brass Manufacturing Company.

Price Pfister is still remembered for its tagline playing off the distinctive company name: "Price Pfister, the pfabulous pfaucet with the pfunny name". By 1987, Price Pfister had gained 14% of the U.S. faucet market. Two years later, Price Pfister was acquired by the Black and Decker Corporation. In 1994, Price Pfister became the first manufacturer to convert to ceramic cartridges, which enabled the industry’s first lifetime guarantee against leaks and drips.[1]

Pacoima plant closure[edit]

In January 1996, Price Pfister agreed to a $2.4 million settlement in a California lawsuit against their manufacturing method[2] which introduced amounts of lead into their faucets that were in excess of those legally allowed under California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.[3] The state sued more than 20 faucet manufacturers, with lab tests showing that Price Pfister had the second highest amount of lead in their faucets.[3] They were forced to change their process from antiquated sand-casting to machining which is more expensive.[2] Rival manufacturer Chicago Faucets still used sand-casting as well, but switched to using bismuth over lead as a sealing alloy, allowing them to keep jobs within the United States.[3] Other rivals such as Delta had long since switched their U.S. plants to more advanced forms of manufacturing.[3]

In 1996 Price Pfister shut down its foundry in the U.S. as they began moving jobs over into Mexico, laying off 300 of the 1200 U.S. jobs at their plant in Pacoima, California.[2] To protest the layoffs and limited severance packages, ten of the workers went on hunger strikes, and on day ten of the strike one of them collapsed and required medical attention. The company blamed the cutbacks on state regulations that limited the amount of lead allowed in faucets.[4] A local labor activist group leader stated that the company was "using environmental issues as a scapegoat" since rival companies had already managed to improve their manufacturing within the U.S.[3] The Teamsters local negotiator claimed that the move was due in part to the cheaper cost of labor over in Mexico, stating that the wages at the plant were $17 an hour including benefits, while in Mexico the wages were $1 or less.[5] The new president, Ron Cooper, stated that the remaining 900 jobs might soon be moved as well, since the Pacoima plant would be too large for their needs. Regardless of where they moved, the 450 factory workers would be laid off and a new staff would be hired.[3]

In March 1997, Price Pfister moved more of its manufacturing operations from the Pacoima plant over to Mexicali, Mexico, laying off approximately 300 U.S. workers. Many of the former workers protested the layoffs outside the plant, and later called for a boycotting of Price Pfister while protesting a nearby Home Depot, a home improvement store that sold Price Pfister products.[6][7]

The Pacoima plant closed down completely in 1997. In 2005, Lowe's planned to build a home improvement store on the lot of the former plant. LA Weekly writer Steven Mikulan said that the move was ironic: the plant used to serve as a hub where U.S.-made Price Pfister products were shipped out from, and the place would instead now be selling those items received from elsewhere. The plant was once the city's largest employer and left the area with severe amounts of pollution. After its closing a survey found that 28% of nearby residents had chronic respiratory problems.[8]

Spectrum Brands Holdings Incorporated[edit]

Joining Kwikset security hardware in 1999, Price Pfister and Kwikset formed the Black and Decker Hardware and Home Improvement Group based in Lake Forest, California. Following the 2010 Stanley acquisition of Black and Decker,[9] Price Pfister is now part of the Stanley Black and Decker Hardware and Home Improvement Group. Following the merger, Price Pfister changed its name to simply Pfister.

On October 9, 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that Stanley Black & Decker had agreed to sell its Hardware and Home Improvement Group, including Pfister, to Spectrum Brands Holdings Incorporated. The acquisition was completed on December 17, 2012 for $1.4 billion.[10]

Products[edit]

Price Pfister's retail bath and kitchen fixtures are available in major hardware and home improvement stores and showrooms throughout the country. Besides residential products, Price Pfister also manufactures a custom designed fixture faucet line, PFISTER Custom Faucet Solutions, for the hospitality industry.

References[edit]

External links[edit]