25300 Al Moen Drive
North Olmsted, Ohio 44070
Telephone: (216) 962-2000
Fax: (216) 962-2770
Operating Unit of MasterBrand Industries Inc.
Incorporated: 1900 as Standard Screw Co.
Sales: $600 million (est.)
SICs: 3432 Plumbing Fixtures Fittings & Trim; 3431 Enameled Iron & Metal Sanitary Ware; 3089 Plastic Products, Nec; 2390 Miscellaneous Fabricated Textile Products
One of the world's largest manufacturers of faucets, sinks, and other plumbing products, Moen Incorporated ranks as the leading manufacturer of single-handle faucets, the top seller to the wholesale market, and the leading brand of faucet in the North American faucet market. Known for quality and style, Moen's faucets have been referred to as the "Cadillacs" of the industry. The firm is the leading subsidiary of MasterBrand Industries Inc., a group of residential hardware and home improvement companies. MasterBrand, in turn, is a subsidiary of American Brands, Inc., a conglomerate with interests in tobacco, distilled spirits, golf and leisure products group, and office products.
The firm and its products are named for Al Moen, inventor of the single-handle faucet. Trained as a mechanical engineer at the University of Washington, Al Moen was inspired to create the device after scalding his hands under a conventional two-handled faucet in the late 1930s. His first design was a double-valve faucet with a cam that controlled the mixture of hot and cold water from the two valves. In consultation with a major faucet manufacturer, however, the inventor became convinced that the cam design was inappropriate, and he went back to the drawing board. Throughout the early 1940s, Moen spent his spare time--and borrowed money--refining a cylindrical design with a piston action. He solicited several manufacturers for the faucet, but by the time Moen found a backer, World War II had begun and brass was being rationed, making production impossible.
After returning from wartime service in the Navy, Moen took his unique faucet idea to Ravenna Metal Products Corp., based in Seattle, Washington. The company sold its first single-handle mixing faucet in San Francisco in late 1947 for about $12. Moen's faucet was later named one of the 100 best-designed mass-produced products of modern times, and Al Moen was nominated to the U.S. Patent Office's Inventors' Hall of Fame. Over the course of his career, Moen obtained more than 75 patents in a variety of areas.
Ravenna Metal Products was acquired and absorbed by Chicago's Standard Screw Co. in 1956 and moved to Elyria, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. Standard Screw had been established in 1900 through the merger of Chicago Screw Co., Hartford Machine Screw Co., and Western Automatic Machine Screw Co. Standard Screw had sought a retail product to complement its lines of fasteners, precision parts, and automotive valves. For the next three decades, Moen operated as a division of Standard Screw.
Moen's sales increased steadily with the help of its new parent and through its own continuous innovation. By 1960, single-handle faucets (of which Moen was not the only manufacturer) comprised about five percent of the total faucet market. Moen catapulted to the lead of the single-handle segment during the 1960s on the strength of new faucet styles and technological innovations. Al Moen, who continued to lead the company's Engineering Department until 1982, was responsible for many of the innovations that drove that growth. These included the replaceable cartridge, a patented, washerless device that served as the basis of the manufacturer's lifetime limited warranty against leaks and drips. Company publications tout the mechanism, which features a self-contained assembly with no moving parts, as "the standard in performance by which other faucet systems are measured." Over the course of his career, Al Moen patented other key products in the company line, including the Flo Control Aerator, the Moentrol (a system to control shower pressure), the Swing'N Spray faucet with a sprayer head, a push button diverter, and a tub spout diverter.
By 1970, when Standard Screw was renamed Stanadyne, Inc., the Moen Division had grown to become the company's most important operation. Stanadyne's sales had increased from $49.1 million to more than $120 million over the course of the previous decade.
During the 1970s and early 1980s, Moen grew from a niche player among faucet manufacturers to the number-two marketer, behind Masco Corp. and its Delta, Epic, and Peerless brands. Despite competition from inexpensive Asian imports, the American faucet market enjoyed double-digit growth beginning in 1986.
During the late 1980s Moen experienced a corresponding double-digit growth in sales, which caught the attention of the investment community; in March 1988 Stanadyne was acquired through a leveraged buyout by the New York investment firm of Forstmann, Little & Co.. The new owners made Moen Stanadyne's primary focus by selling most of its other operating divisions, and Stanadyne assumed the name of its best-selling product in October 1989, becoming Moen Incorporated. In 1990, upon the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the United States, Moen merged its U.S. and Canadian operations. Forstmann, Little sold Moen Inc. to MasterBrand for $982 million that same year.
MasterBrand appeared to be committed to Moen for the long term, supporting it with a $50 million infusion of capital. The money was spent on research and development, new manufacturing equipment, and facilities. During the early 1990s Moen shifted its sales focus from wholesale to include retail in response to economic and marketplace imperatives, which included economic recession and a corresponding decline in new housing construction, as well as growth in the home improvement market and the development of powerful new home improvement retail outlets like Home Depot, Builders Square, and Lowe's. The faucet maker assimilated several of MasterBrand's plumbing-related subsidiaries, expanded its product line, and launched aggressive new sales and marketing strategies.
The shift required a transformation of many of the manufacturer's processes. For example, Moen had to develop attractive packaging, speedier delivery, barcoding, and nationwide service. The company revamped its distribution, transportation, customer service, industrial engineering, information systems, and warehouse operations. The overhaul benefitted Moen in many respects, not the least of which was improved productivity through automation.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Moen's product line diversified in both form and in function. Moen's faucets ranged from traditional cross-handled designs to sleek contemporary looks. Sinks made of Moenstone, "a high-tech, high-strength color-impregnated composite material," came in a wide variety of fashion colors and bowl configurations. The company also added specially designed faucets for the bar and laundry, as well as accessories like liquid soap dispensers and massage showerheads. The One-Touch faucet, a combination faucet and sprayer, and Riser spout, which lifted ten inches above the sink, combined practicality and fashion for the kitchen. The Monticello Collection of lavatory faucets, introduced in 1993, became the company's most successful product introduction of all time.
Between 1990 and 1994, Moen's sales nearly doubled. As it approached the turn of the 21st century, Moen counted competitive pricing, a strong reputation for quality, and good brand recognition among its strengths. Bruce Carbonari, president and CEO, pegged future growth on international sales, focusing corporate efforts on joint ventures in Asia, the Middle East, Mexico, and Central and South America. By the end of 1994, Moen had captured one percent of the competitive Japanese plumbing market. Carbonari expected increasing international sales to push his company over the $1 billion mark by the year 2000.
Principal Subsidiaries: Moen Inc. (Canada); Moen Japan K.K.; Moen de Mexico; HCG-Moen Corp. (Taiwan).
Canedy, Dana, "Kitchen Sink, Too," Plain Dealer, August 17, 1994, p. 1C.
Gooley, Toby B., "Moen Catches the Retail Wave," Traffic Management, Vol. 33, October 1994, p. 40.
Lans, Maxine S., "Protecting Your Product's Shape," Marketing News, Vol. 28, March 14, 1994, p. 12.
Marsh, Simon, "Standard Screw Finds Diversification Rewarding," Investment Dealers Digest, March 31, 1969, p. 47.
Phillips, Lisa, "Faucet Sales Spout after Years in a Sink," Advertising Age, March 24, 1986, p. 34.
Sabath, Donald, "Stanadyne Renames Itself," Plain Dealer, October 4, 1989, p. 1C.
------, "Elyria Firm Will Be Acquired," Plain Dealer, July 21, 1990, p. 8C.
------, "New Moen Executive Sees Opportunities Overseas," Plain Dealer, December 6, 1994, p. 1C.
There's Only One Al Moen, Elyria, Ohio: Moen Incorporated, 1993.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 12. St. James Press, 1996.