Christchurch firm plumbs new heights in shower technology
The idea for the Aquapole came up when Barry Godfrey founder of Kiwi Showers was on holiday using a conventional open wet floor shower.
He could see ways of improving the arrangement so the water was directed back towards the corner rather than all over the room as often happens.
He and his business partner, plumber Duncan Hamilton, were also looking for a free standing outdoor version which can be set in a wooden or concrete base and used in resorts, or beach areas.
The answer was the stainless steel Aquapole with an adjustable shower head, situated anywhere in a shower area without wall plumbing or fixtures.
Godfrey and Hamilton run the business from a workshop at Prebbleton in the Selwyn District and supply to customers direct by mail order.
Godfrey's wife Jeanne carries out administration work for Aquapole and other family business interests.
The water for the shower can be plumbed in from the ceiling or the floor making problems with wall-covered mixers and joints less likely.
Other benefits include the ability to place the shower near a recess opening, and to provide support for elderly or infirm people who can hold onto it, making it suitable for resthomes.
The fixtures include the pole, shower slide, handpiece, mixer and plumbing.
In addition to home owners, the Aquapole shower system has been popular with accommodation providers and even super yachts.
The firm recently sold 50 of the appliances to a Thai resort in a deal put together by Hamilton.
The stainless fittings are made by Transit Engineering based in Christchurch.
Godfrey said there may be merit is sourcing some components more cheaply overseas but he's proud to boast the Aquapole is Kiwi- made.
Marketing has largely been carried out via homeware shows and related outlets like the Home Ideas centres and their website.
"We got going in 2007 and didn't perceive the market demand," Godfrey said.
"We've got great feedback from so many people but getting building firms to embrace the Aquapole has been slow."
Godfrey said he obtained patents and sought advice from some business mentor entities but like many smaller businesses it was difficult to carry out sufficient marketing to take the business to another level.