The Part Works & Chicago Faucets

Commercial Quality Parts Meets Commercial Quality Partner

Written by
The Part Works
Published on
August 3, 2022 at 7:04:22 AM PDT August 3, 2022 at 7:04:22 AM PDTrd, August 3, 2022 at 7:04:22 AM PDT

Chicago Faucets @ The Part Works: Commercial Quality Parts Meets Commercial Quality Partner

Founded in 1901 by Albert C. Brown, Chicago Faucets was a true bootstrap startup. Originally manufacturing everything from lamp shade frames to gas regulator valves, his OEM plumbing rose to the top with wholesale plumbing supply houses. Over his lifetime, A. C. Brown was personally responsible for over 50 patents, including the first self-closing valve, the first mixing valve for tempered water, the first combination hot/cold water faucet, and the first combination bathtub shower faucet, among others.

Then, in 1913 Mr. Brown invented something that we still use today. The Quaturn Cartridge faucet. The Quaturn cartridge ushered in a revolution with the ability to turn off the water from full flow with a one-quarter turn of the handle. By design, this industry changing faucet stem is a self-contained, replaceable, interchangeable control mechanism used throughout the Chicago Faucet product line. Also unique, the Quaturn closes with the flow of water, not against it, reducing washer wear and dramatically reducing drips.

Brown changed how commercial plumbing was perceived, by creating a faucet system that could both reduce the need for maintenance and ease the serviceability when necessary. No longer did a leaky faucet require an entire expensive and labor-intensive replacement. With Chicago Faucets, customers now had a high-quality product, that they could easily service, and even fully rebuild. This meant that cost-effective repair parts could be kept on the shelf for a single faucet across an entire facility. In fact, today’s Quaturn Cartridge is still interchangeable for repairs on Chicago Faucets from every previous generation to current and future faucet bodies. Thus, making the plumbers’ lives easier, while saving the building owner money on labor.

From our earliest days, The Part Works recognized the immense value that Chicago Faucets creates for our customers. Between reducing product failure and leakage, longer lifespan of the complete faucet, and the ability to rebuild a faucet with a simple, self-contained cartridge, Chicago Faucets reduce facilities costs on both the product budget, and the labor investment. This means that savvy (or… well informed) customers are often willing to spend a little more on a Chicago Faucet, saving time and expense over the extended lifespan of the product. Our Founder, Rick Johnson, saw this as a real opportunity to provide that value and began training our customers in the Seattle area from day one.

Today, our team at The Part Works continues this value-added approach, providing customers with high quality products, in-stock repair parts, and extensive expertise. Our owner, Katie Parris continues to invest in curating information for our customers as a key value that our team can provide.

Those efforts include:

1.   Training: Understanding the deep learning curve of a nearly 500,000 SKU product list, in an already complex industry like plumbing requires years of on-the-job training. Katie and our team recognize this challenge and dedicate consistent, on-going training to our team members. For those years of knowledge and expertise to stay in the company, we foster an environment where people want to stay for the long term.

2.   Digitizing: Plumbing is challenging to digitize, with part numbers changing both at the manufacturer and the distributor. Relying on legacy catalogs has been a staple of our industry for generations. The Part Works has maintained a massive library of standard books, and rare hard-to-find catalogs, going back as much as 50 years. Our team is methodically digitizing this content, in some circumstances, for public use on our website. In other scenarios, for internal education and reference. The main goal is to make the right information available to our people, both inside and outside the company.

3.   Partnering: More than anything, we always value our people. Rick and Sandy understood the cost of finding, training, and employing great humans, that were really good at their jobs, and they worked hard as a small business to respect and value their employees. Katie has taken this ethos to the next level, providing opportunities for growth, a collaborative environment, and constantly communicating a “no sacred cows” policy that encourages every employee to think strategically. We understand that we will never compete with the tech stack at Fortune 500 companies, but we don’t have to. Our catalog competitors will never compete with our well-trained, experienced, motivated human experts who guide our customers to the best solution for their particular circumstances.

4.   Live Learning Labs: The latest investment has been in consistent, manufacturer-driven Live Learning Lab events. This includes dedicating a significant portion of floor space in our brand-new Portland facility to a training room we call “The Fishbowl.” Able to seat around 20 customers at a time; it’s where we hold our Live Learning Labs. So far, events have included a senior brand representative from manufacturers, including The Sloan Valve Company, and The Barry E. Walter Sr. Company. Chicago Faucets is coming to Portland next month, and future plans include T&S Brass and Bronze Works, General Wire Spring Company, Klein Tools, Zurn, and Bradley Corporation for starters. The Live Learning Labs are a response to the broader systemic staffing issues across the trades.

Portland Branch Manager Mike Davenport says, “the positive response to our training program has been overwhelming – yet many customers are telling us they are overwhelmed with the amount of work given the shortage of plumbers, and just don’t have the time to send anyone. One customer told us they are recruiting apprentices at the local High School career day. Our response is, to send them on over to The Part Works to be trained by the factories, right here in Portland!”

After 42 years together, providing Chicago Faucets to the Pacific Northwest, The Part Works and Chicago Faucets are still aligned and working together to meet customers’ needs for commercial quality products. Today, Chicago Faucets continues to provide innovative products to every commercial facility specification. They provide products like the AutoDrain Shower system, BioArmor® point-of-use water treatment (both very important in healthcare settings), and the TempShield® thermostatic scald protection fittings that eliminate the need to install separate thermostatic mixing valves at each faucet. Once again, saving time and labor dollars at installation. The Part Works is proud to provide our customers with such well thought out and constructed plumbing products. Our role is to help you determine the right one!