Mira masters the
BRITISH behaviour in the bathroom is changing rapidly. The long soak in the bath has been replaced by a swift and refreshing shower.
To meet this demand, Kohler Mira has been designing, manufacturing and dispatching showers from its 12-acre base in Cromwell Road, Cheltenham since the 1930s.
And with the company's brass castings production and machining centre at Kingsditch Lane, Cheltenham and logistics centre at Barnwood, it employs 700 in the county and a total of 1,000 nationally.
I met director of production Jon Ramsdale, pictured on our front page, who clearly has a passion for the products Kohler Mira makes and the people who produce them, together with the company's marketing manager Roger Crabb.
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He explained how as part of the global Kohler group which has 30,000 employees or "associates", investment in new technology and people skills was key.
"We are constantly looking for ways to improve our production processes and we want to introduce new elements of automation for some of our processes and that is not to take away people's jobs," he said. "We have more products coming into the market place and this investment will enable us to produce our products much more efficiently and make sure our quality is always good.
"And so we are investing in the right people in terms of the skills we will need in the future."
Roger Crabb said: "We will spend on average between £200,000 and £300,000 a year on market research. A lot of that is around understanding what the next range of shower products will be. That is fed into new product development and we have a very structured programme to bring new products to the market."
Every shower is carefully checked to ensure it operates correctly and then further spot checks are done at random before they leave the factory.
Kohler Mira has the largest share of the UK shower market by value and for every £1 spent in the sector some 41p is being spent on a Mira shower. In fact, one in three houses in this country has one of its showers installed.
The company's investment in product development in electrical, power and the latest digital showers is just under £8 million a year. It has just shy of 40 patents on its products and, unsurprisingly, it jealously guards its intellectual property rights, last year threatening a competitor with legal action for infringing its designs.
Jon Ramsdale said: "Digital showers are an exciting new category for us. They have some great functionality in terms of temperature control, remote start/stop and not to mention easy installation. It is a growing area for us that we only produce in Cheltenham and sell increasingly to overseas markets."
Roger said: "Because we are part of a global group, Kohler, they see us as a centre of excellence for showering globally. Our technology such as digital showers will end up in different parts of the world."
Jon Ramsdale said Kohler Mira was set to start the manufacture of at least four new product range developments into Cheltenham in the last quarter of the year.
"There is a huge amount of activity," he said. "We want our factory to be our showroom. We are very proud of our heritage and the fact that we can manufacture products competitively in Cheltenham."