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Successful company values environment
Innovative toilet maker reduces water use by 25 percent

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

After 90 years of making vitreous china toilets, sinks, tubs, and kitchen items, TOTO -- the Japanese toilet manufacturing giant in Morrow -- has grown to become the world's largest manufacturer of luxury bath fixtures.

Opened in 1996, the TOTO USA, Inc. Morrow Manufacturing Facility on 1155

Southern Road, employs 500 people and produces about 1,350 toilets a day.

In America, toilets and sinks made by TOTO can be found in the Venetian Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and at the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Close to a third of the TOTO products found in North, Central, and South America, are produced in Clayton County.

"Twenty to 30 percent of what I sell in all of those countries, we make here, which is huge," said David Krakoff, vice president of sales for TOTO USA, Inc. "We could not be successful without the products we make here. We're real proud of the workforce we have here."

Krakoff said TOTO has taken a very different approach to the bathroom, which has set the company apart from its competitors.

"Your kitchen and bathroom are the most fashionable areas, because they are your most personal spaces," said Krakoff. "If you look at HGTV, probably three quarters of the programs are dedicated to how you can improve your kitchen and bathroom."

Constant engineering takes place at the Morrow facility to ensure the company stays on the cutting edge of plumbing technology.

The items either produced, or distributed by the Morrow facility include a bathtub which doubles as a sound system. Through new technology, sound reverberates from the sides of the tub without the use of speakers. Other items include push-button operated brass shower heads and toilets which can lift, flush, and perform other operations by remote control.

In the line of toilets, the facility distributes economical toilets, such as the Eco Drake model, which, for about $300, will flush at a rate of 1.28 gpf (gallons per flush) -- which is about 20 percent more efficient than the current industry standard. For $5,200, a person can treat themselves to a Neorest, an interactive toilet which opens and closes when a person enters the room, automatically uses less water per flush when the seat is lifted, and performs functions that render toilet paper unnecessary.

In addition to creating a variety of bathroom gadgets, the Morrow Manufacturing Facility is environmentally conscious: from the clay and water which is recycled for use again and again, to the paper scraps that are recycled and sold back to the company as cardboard shipping boxes, to the defective, fired clay ,which is broken up and sold as a road bedding.

Hardly anything is wasted. Recycling bins line every corner of the plant and employees are encouraged to bring their garbage from home and recycle it there.

In the wake of the drought in Georgia, the TOTO plant in Morrow led industries in the area of water conservation so much, the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) nominated the company for an award with the Georgia Association of Water Professionals.

In the Fall, Gov. Sonny Perdue demanded all Georgia industries cut back their water usage by 10 percent. By recycling its water, the Morrow manufacturing facility went one step further and reduced water usage by 25 percent, saving four million gallons of water between the months of October and January.

"They're actually reusing it again and again before it actually goes down the drain," said Jim Poff, CCWA water reclamation manager. "Every gallon that you can do that [with] replaces a gallon of potable water that you would be taking from the system. We're really struggling to meet that 10 percent mandate by the government, so that really helps us out when our customers help out."

Bill Strang, vice president of operations at TOTO, said he is proud to be a part of a company that is helping fix the water situation in Georgia.

"As you start to get better at water conservation, the more you realize that there is more to do," said Strang.