Volume 35, Number 5, May 2000


Plumbers Step Into the Shower

 Some shower door companies say plumbers are encroaching
on their territory forcing glass shops to clean up their mess.

 by Tara Taffera

Have you ever been on a job site and noticed faulty workmanship, in say, installation of tub sliders? What about caulking problems or improper installation of shower doors? If you have noticed these occurrences this may be because, in some U.S. cities, plumbing and tile companies have added shower enclosures as an extension to their businesses.

Shelley Cervantes, manager of Glass Concepts in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reports that some plumbers in her area have made such a move, which she deems absurd. “It’s like us [glass shops] saying, ‘Let’s add plumbing work as an extension to our glass

Others in the industry are not as surprised by this growing trend. “It was inevitable because shower door manufacturers sell to plumbing supply wholesalers,” said Jerry Wright, owner of AAA Glass & Mirror in Fort Worth, Texas.

Many plumbing companies are getting involved in the shower door end of the business simply because customers are asking them to do so. “Customers are asking plumbers questions about their showers, thinking this is something they should know,” said Dennis Haney, branch manager for Banner Glass in Fairfax, Va. “The plumbers are thinking, ‘Let’s try this.’” But according to Haney, what usually happens is the plumbers then have to call the glass companies when they run into problems.

Cervantes described the situation this way: Most plumbers have showrooms, so consumers visit the showroom and purchase the tub sliders directly from the plumbers who, in many cases, perform the installations. According to Cervantes, they do so with generally no training. When she learned of these occurrences Cervantes started talking to plumbers about it: some told her they hate performing the installations because they have to go back and fix leaks.

Others don’t mind it. In fact, Cervantes said one plumber with a kitchen and bath showroom has now decided to do it all—tiles, shower doors, glass—the works.

“This serves as a great disadvantage to our industry because it makes the job of the glass dealer more difficult because in many cases we have to fix their mistakes,” said Cervantes. “They should leave the work to the people who specialize in that particular trade.”

Others in the glass industry agree. Virginia Hylan, president of Davie Glass & Mirror in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has seen instances where plumbers have installed shower doors. She said tile men are also performing this work and doesn’t think either should be involved in these installations. “Plumbers should stick to plumbing and shower door installers should stick to shower doors,” she said. “If everyone takes care of their own niche everything will be fine.”

Jerry Sparling, owner of Plano Bath & Glass in Plano, Texas, has noticed that plumbers don’t necessarily install shower doors properly, while Haney said he witnessed plumbers trying to stop a leak on a 24-inch shower door. But, according to Sparling, most of the problems he has come across are not just faulty workmanship on part of the plumbers, but by the tile companies. “Tile companies are putting in shower doors and I’m having to fix their problems,” said Sparling. He said some of these problems include putting screws in the wrong place and bad caulking jobs, a trend that Haney has witnessed as well. “Plumbers can’t caulk,” he said.

While some plumbing and tile companies may be viewing the situation as a way to make a few more bucks, a few in the glass industry haven’t noticed the intrusion of plumbing and tile companies.

Wright said he gets a few calls from customers who complain of shower-related problems as a result of plumbers installing the product, “but overall, it’s not that many.”

I don’t see this in the Washington area, said Ron Floyd, owner of RKF Shower Door in Fairfax, Va. “Plumbers don’t want anything to do with showers.” Floyd said he works with 25 tile companies and 50 plumbing contractors, all of whom contact Floyd for work when they need shower-related work to be done.

“Plumbers don’t want to deal with shower-related problems,” said Wright. “We make it known to them that we do shower doors and they refer the work to us.” Haney agrees. He said, when on a job site recently with some plumbers, they ended up firing questions at him and asking for his card.


Plumbers Speak Out

Betty Zubkus of A & B Plumbing in Forth Worth, Texas, said her company never performs shower door work. Depending on the type of job, Zubkus said the company either handles the entire process, and brings a shower door installer in to do the work, or gives the customer a list of shower door companies and tells him to contact the shower door company directly.

“A plumber doesn’t needed to be hanging a shower door,” said Zubkus, who added that a whole host of things can go wrong, such as improper measurements, etc. “There are certain things shower door companies know,” said Zubkus. “Just like electricians shouldn’t be doing plumbing. Everyone has their own area of expertise that they should stick to.”

Paul Huntley, operations manager for 4-Star Plumbing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., agrees that plumbers should definitely refer this type of work to shower door companies.

According to Huntley, many times the customer calls a plumber because they don’t understand what the problem is. “They may call a plumber because they think there is a leak in the wall,” said Huntley. “But, usually, it’s not that at all. It’s usually the sealant around the shower door or a leak around the tub.

Huntley said he always refers the customer to a shower door company. “I try not to get into it, if you do you take on liability,” he said. “The customer will call you later if there’s a problem and say, ‘You fixed it and it’s still leaking,’” said Huntley. “As far as they’re concerned, it is now my problem.”

But for some plumbers, the decision to not delve into this arena is a simple matter of dollars and cents. “Most plumbers don’t want to get into it,” said Huntley. “That’s not where they make their money.”


Making a Splash in the Bathroom

Industry offers innovative programs and products.xx


Add European Flair with Products from Southeastern Aluminum

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Southeastern Aluminum Products of Jacksonville, Fla., offers the CrystalLine hinge door system with c-pull option, which the company says offers a European flair to this system. Mounted through the door, the c-pull gives a -inch glass enclosure the sophisticated heavy glass look at an affordable price. The handle is available in gold, silver, white, or the newly-offered brushed nickel. 

Off the Rack: Sommer & Maca Unveils New Line of Shower Door Hardware

Companies looking for a wide range of shower door hardware may want to look into the new line of frameless shower door hardware recently introduced by Sommer & Maca Industries of Cicero, Ill.

This product selection includes a line of hinges, which the company says creates an elegant visual impression and is constructed for ease of use, long life and reliable service. According to the company, the hinges are made of solid brass construction with stainless steel components and are available in three timeless designs. Additionally, five styles of hinges are available in brass or chrome finishes and all are backed by a five-year warranty.

Sommer & Maca also offers slider and enclosure kits available in three finishes, brite gold, brite silver and white powder coat. Additionally, frameless double KD slider kits are available for -inch and 3/8-inch tempered glass. The kits are available in two height requirements: 60 inches wide by 60 inches high or 60 inches wide by 72 inches high. Product benefits include a concealed overhead roller design that allows greater glass exposure and less metal exposure and a top hung design allowing for bottom track and side jambs to remain uncluttered. Kits include all appropriate extrusion, 24-inch towel bar, knob and hardware package.

The company also offers a line of towel bars and pulls that are -inch solid aluminum for glass sizes of to inch. The products are available in three finishes, brite gold, chrome and white powder coat.

Add on the Profits with Mirrors from See-All Industries

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Are you looking for ways to increase profits beyond the traditional shower and bath enclosure? Well, the next time you’re in a customer’s home installing one of these items, why not ask the customer if they would like an elegant mirror for their bath as well. Chicago-based See-All Industries offers the Princess series of lighted mirrors and the Mediterranean Collection of solid brass mirrors for the bath and bedroom.

 Make Your Job Easier with Cardinal’s New Software Program

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Do you want to track orders by customer name or number or by job or invoice number? Do you want to print out assembly and installation instructions? If yes, Cardinal Shower Enclosures says its new Cardinal Soft shower enclosure software program, manufactured by Hoskin & Muir Inc., is for you.

Downloading the program on a computer will allow the user to perform a variety of functions. These include: Creating a schematic of the shower enclosure that can be printed out; Determining your cost and quoted price for your customer; Creating a cut sheet for all your metal and glass sizes; Creating invoices and packaging slips; Tracking orders by customer name or number, by job number, by invoice, etc.; and Printing out assembly instructions for each enclosure.

The company has been busy with other product innovations as well. Cardinal says it now offers a complete line of shower enclosures in a luxurious brushed nickel finish. This line includes sliding and swing doors incorporating 3/16-, -, and 3/8-inch glass in a broad range of models. In addition, the company introduced what it describes as “its most luxurious line of sliders and stalls.” The products are available in -and 3/8-inch glass and include distinctive towel bar and pull hardware.


Copyright 2000 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.