By David Gill
For Creative Bath, the Central Islip, N.Y.-based manufacturer, the past five years has seen what Chief Operation Officer Bob Weiss called an “explosion” in business—but not in bath products.
The 38-year-old company began producing housewares about eight years ago, and in the past five years, this category has mushroomed into its biggest growth area. Creative Bath’s offerings in housewares (labeled Creative Ware on the company’s website, creativebath.com) now encompass serveware, drinkware, tabletop and storage and organization products.
It took some time for the company’s housewares offerings to get on the growth track. “We had textiles sales people selling the housewares as well,” Weiss recalled. “I was brought in seven years ago to get the housewares segment going. Now we have three areas of sales reps: housewares, bath and storage, and organization.” Weiss served as vice president of sales and marketing before assuming his current post in 2010.
The man who brought Weiss to Creative Bath was Mat Meinzinger, the company’s founder and chairman. Of Meinzinger, who died last year, Weiss said, “Mat wasn’t concerned about the product mix as much as he was about the quality of the products. He wasn’t like any other CEO I ever reported to. He was concerned about his employees and his customers as much as he was concerned about the bottom line.”
In maintaining Meinzinger’s passion for the products (“I think I have the same kind of passion,” Weiss said), Creative Bath has an advantage in that all of its manufacturing takes place at its Central Islip location. “We do it all here,” Weiss said. “We have our own tool and dye area, our own model shop and our own photography studio.”
Manufacturing out of its headquarters helps the company’s efforts to have “the right product at the right time and at the right price,” Weiss said. “Also, our customers don’t have to travel abroad to meet with our team.”
Creative Bath’s biggest manufacturing season takes place each year from September through December. “In 2011, we introduced more new items than at any time in the company’s history,” Weiss said. “For example, we launched 13 new items at the tabletop show in April.”
Along with the tabletop market, Creative Bath is a regular participant in Gift & Home Textiles Market Week, the New York Home Fashions Market and the International Home + Housewares Show. “The Housewares Show is now our best show in terms of creating business, but the tabletop show has become important to us as well,” Weiss said. The company has also added hospitality trade shows to its exhibiting mix, spotlighting some of its bath products at the Hospitality Design Conference & Expo in Las Vegas earlier this year.
In terms of Creative Bath’s product categories, Weiss said most of the opportunities for growth still lie in housewares. “We’re still new there,” he said. “Really, I don’t see any limit to how much we can grow the category.”
That being said, there could be some opportunities for other bath products such as lotion dispensers, which Weiss identified as a growth business for Creative Bath.
At retail, Creative Bath has customers in most of the consumer channels except home centers. Opportunities are opening up here as well. “We could be doing a lot more with the grocery chains,” Weiss said. “Along with hospitality, we think we can also expand in the commercial sector. We already have a presence in commercial with the warehouse clubs, in which a lot of small businesses shop.”
Whatever opportunities present themselves, Weiss said Creative Bath will pursue them very much in the spirit of Meinzinger. “This company was his family, and we’ve kept that vision going,” he said. “It was about love of the product. At Creative Bath, we want to make products that people enjoy.”