Alexandra Rowe discusses the secret behind the innovation-driven success of her family firm, Greg Rowe.
Just over a decade ago, Greg Rowe was looking forward to an early retirement. Having spent 25 years championing multi-functional kitchen taps and building the luxury British brassware brand Perrin & Rowe, he was intending to take life a little easier.
However, when the opportunity arose to acquire an interest in a niche filtration business, Greg was unable to resist.
Bad timing, great foresight
The timing wasn’t great – it was 2007. The recession had kicked in and the business had suffered from under-investment. Gradually though, its range of filter taps, systems and filter cartridges was streamlined, redesigned and quality was improved.
Around the same time, Greg conceived a 4-in-1 kitchen tap that would dispense hot, cold, filtered and 100˚C boiling water from a single spout.
Having co-designed and patented Triflow, the first 3-in-1 kitchen tap in 1991, Greg knew that the time was right for a new generation of kitchen tap appliances and strongly believed that investing both financially and creatively would pay off.
“Although my family and I have lived and breathed tap design for longer than I care to remember, it is becoming increasingly hard to recall when a tap was just a tap,” Greg says. “Creating the first, three-way kitchen tap was just the beginning of what you might term a tap revolution. And, as a design engineer, I always believed there was so much more that a tap could deliver.”
In 2015, Greg’s 4-in-1 kitchen tap, the first mechanical kitchen tap to dispense four flows of water, was launched. It was enthusiastically received and set a new standard for kitchen tap functionality. It has been the recipient of a coveted Red Dot Design Award, a German design award, and has secured multiple patents.
And, thanks to its ingenious design, it can be manufactured in different materials ranging from stainless steel to zinc. This in turn means that it has been possible for Greg Rowe Limited to develop a 4-in-1 kitchen tap appliance for every market segment, without compromising the tap’s USP – genuinely 100ºC boiling water that has a myriad uses from making a swift cuppa to blanching vegetables.
Commitment to investment
To date, the business has been funded privately and all profits are returned to the business. Its success is down to original product design and the Rowe family’s belief that it is their company’s culture of innovation that differentiates it from the ‘me-too’ businesses that crowd the market.
“Innovation is inherent within our organisation. It is what sets us apart,” says Greg Row Jnr, Greg’s eldest son and now the firm’s MD. “With 10% of our 2017 turnover invested in R&D, not to mention the nurturing of next-generation design engineers – we intend to keep it that way.
“I’m not sure it’s quite the retirement that Greg Snr envisaged, but having sustained growth at 30% for the last three years, established a growing portfolio of brands, and with exports to the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia underway, it’s certainly one that befits a true innovator.”
The UK’s best of the best
Last year, McLaren Automotive won The Manufacturer MX Award for Innovation & Design. It is hardly surprising, given their rapid rise over the past eight years to become Britain’s foremost supercar manufacturer.
Click here to read The Manufacutrer’s interview with Alan Foster, McLaren Automotive’s Executive Director Infrastructure Projects, about their success.
We thought we should let the companies who were shortlisted with McLaren, but didn’t walk away with the award on the night, tell their own innovation stories.
Greg Rowe was one of them, and you can read the other three via the links below:
- A-SAFE: Pioneering scientifically-engineered safety
- Lontra: Manufacturing a culture of innovation
- BAC Mono: The world’s only road-legal, single-seat supercar