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David Kohler, executive vice president of manufacturer Kohler outlines the steps the firm is taking to meet the demands for water conservation and power supplies in the Middle East market.

INTERVIEWS, MEP

David Kohler, executive vice president of manufacturer Kohler outlines the steps the firm is taking to meet the demands for water conservation and power supplies in the Middle East market.

What products and services does Kohler offer professionals in the MEP sector?

The Kohler Company is composed of four different groups: the largest of these is the Kitchen and Bath Group, the second largest is the Global Power Group.

Kohler entered the power systems market in the early 1920s and today manufactures generator sets up to 2,800kW, transfer switches, switchgear and accessories for the standby and prime power markets.

Kohler Rental Power provides uninterruptible power systems with its emergency generators, mobile lighting, climate control and on-site technical support.

The Kohler Kitchen & Bath Group offers a range of low water consuming plumbing products including waterless urinals and low-flow aerators for fitting into tap and shower faucets.

How long has Kohler been operating in the Middle East?
We've been exporting products to the region for over 50 years. Our first distributor partnership was in Kuwait and this has now been operating for more than 25 years.

Kohler has over 60 manufacturing plants worldwide, for this region there will be products imported from the USA, Europe, Egypt, Morocco and our Asian facilities as our different product lines are manufactured in various plants throughout the world.

Do you have any plans for expansion in the region?

Kohler products are currently available in the GCC and Levant countries. Our business is growing very fast in the region and we want to continue that growth.

Obviously there are opportunities due to the economic development in the region, which has one of the highest levels of construction activity and development anywhere in the world, so we want to continue to expand with our existing distribution partners and the developers in the region. We don't have any specific plans to enter any new countries, the focus is to develop within the countries in which we're already located. We are also increasing the capacity in some of our manufacturing plants to meet the increase in demand.

What functions do your products have that particularly suit the needs of this region?

Many of the products that we're showing our distributors today that will come onto the market over the next few years have been designed with the Middle East in mind.

Water conservation is certainly one of the most important global trends that we see in our industry, but it's a very acute and specific problem in the Middle East, so all of the products that we're developing across the lines of showers, wcs, and commercial products like waterless urinals are really targeted at this region.

In addition, those in the Middle East real estate industry want to stay at the leading edge of design, so all of our highest-end new product ranges are targeted at this region.

How specifically can your products help firms meet the new targets for green building design?

Our products are really essential in meeting the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system requirements. Whichever level of LEED you are targeting, in order to achieve certification water conservation is one of the most logical and natural ways to do that and using low consumption dual-flush wcs, waterless urinals is one method.

Kohler's waterless urinals can save up to 40,000 gallons of water per fixture per year compared to water-based products and can also significantly reduce sewage and maintenance costs.

Kohler's commercial 1.28 flushometers reduce water consumption by more than 20% compared to standard 1.6 gallon flush toilets and its MasterShower Ecofficient showerhead provides optimal performance at two gallons/minute.

What changes do you feel are needed in the sector to further reduce the use of water?

I think the key is for architects, engineers and designers to continue to specify and drive the use of water conserving products, because you can save significant amounts of water with high efficiency toilets, water conserving faucets or waterless urinals without sacrificing performance or the consumer experience. You can create beautifully designed buildings, but also buildings that conserve a tremendous amount of water.

The great thing about what's happening in this region is that you've got so much developing underway and so many people striving to differentiate their buildings that they are trying new things and adopting new technologies rapidly, it's very positive from that standpoint. There are other markets around the world that don't have this pace of development and the adaption rate of these new technologies is much slower.

What plans does Kohler have in terms of further serving the region's power market?

We've been supplying standby power products in the Middle East for decades and are very active in the region. The power business is growing strongly globally, but at its fastest rate in the developing markets like the Middle East, Asia and South America.

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