Japanese toilet maker TOTO broke into the U.S. market by offering Americans more creature comforts. But its reputation for being environmentally friendly — starting with high efficiency, water-saving toilets — has become a big part of its success.
A decision two decades ago to manufacture toilets in the United States has paid off in many ways, says William Strang, president of operations at TOTO USA, including helping TOTO become a truly global company and tap into the expertise of engineers at top universities in Atlanta near its U.S. headquarters.
Having a manufacturing presence — not just a sales operation — is critical, Strang says. “It allows us to be price competitive. We can make toilets in the U.S.A. at a better price point than I can buy that same toilet in Beijing and ship it over.”
TOTO is a century-old company. Its signature product is the “Washlet,” a combination toilet and bidet. TOTO’s eco-friendly toilets require only 4.8 liters of water per flush rather than the standard 6 liters.
The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport saved 14 million liters of water a month by installing the company’s toilets, Strang says.
“You’ve got to be here if you’re going to find success,” says Strang, who was a panelist at the 2016 SelectUSA Investment Summit, where top government officials and economic development agencies woo foreign investors. “Companies that build their products offshore and ship them in 40-foot containers [are] not going to be as successful as a company that actually has a manufacturing footprint in the country.”
The 2017 SelectUSA Summit, taking place June 18–20 at a Maryland convention center across the Potomac River from Washington, will help investors make connections and business owners find opportunities to expand across the U.S.