Family Affair: The Rohl FamilyAuthor:Lindsey Shook
The Rohl boys have gone from fishing and tobogganing together as kids to now running a multimillion-dollar company alongside their father.
Ken Rohl has come a long way since his days traveling around the country, introducing the pull-out faucet to the U.S market. He initially encountered the revolutionary design by KWC Faucets over three decades ago while attending trade fairs in Europe. “I would load up the trunk of my car and tell my wife I’d see her when all of the faucets were gone,” he quips. Today, ROHL—the company that Ken founded in 1983 and currently serves as the chairman of—purveys an array of luxury bath and kitchen products.
It has evolved into quite the family business, with Ken’s three sons joining in his entrepreneurial endeavor. Lou has been there since day one, after stints with St. Charles, where his father also worked, and KWC. A couple of years later, Ken’s oldest son, Mark, came on board to handle the sales management responsibilities. Then in 1993, Greg, the youngest of the three, who had been a publisher of both trade and consumer magazines covering the kitchen and bath industry, took a position at ROHL; he was tasked with coordinating all marketing activities.
Lou is now the CEO/Managing Partner, Mark is the President of the Eastern Division, and Greg is the President of the Western Division. While Mark lives in New Jersey, Ken, Lou, and Greg reside in Orange County. Of course, Ken no longer conducts business out of his car trunk; ROHL has a 50,000-square-foot headquarter facility in Irvine.
The company’s success is as much a testament to the Rohls’ familial bond as it is their business acumen. “Our parents taught us that while we might not always like each other, we must always respect one another, especially as it relates to business,” says Lou. He and his brothers grew up outside of Chicago, “in the country,” as he puts it, within walking distance of a lake that allowed for fishing and boating in the summer and ice skating and tobogganing in the winter. Adds Mark: “The dynamic of our family was typical of any that had three strong-willed boys. Fortunately, we had an even stronger willed mother that kept us in line.”
In addition to faucets and fixtures in myriad styles—from traditional to modern—ROHL’s range includes sinks. (And, yes, the pull-out faucet is still among its offerings.) The company has partnered with Shaws, which has been handcrafting apron sinks in England since the late 1800s, to bring fireclay sinks to buyers in the States.
“ROHL is America’s only domestic plumbing brand to offer a full line of products crafted in villages and towns in Great Britain, Western Europe, North America, and New Zealand,” says Lou. “Every ROHL product has a story of artisanship, craftsmanship, and heritage and historical relevancy.”
Members of the ROHL team continue to travel to trade shows throughout North America and Europe to scout innovative wares that are notable for their functionality and fabrication. This past July, ROHL launched the Perrin & Rowe Deco bath collection, which is made in Great Britain and echoes the architecture of iconic buildings in London such as the OXO Tower and Battersea Power Station.
Balancing performance with sustainability and water management efforts is also a priority for ROHL. For example, eight of its showerheads have flow rates of 2.0 GPM, exceeding the EPA standard. LEED-compliant showerheads and hand showers are available, too—as are low-flow, water-conserving aerators for faucets, which are no doubt especially welcome in drought-ridden California.
For many firms, the ability to adapt to modern-day issues as well as think ahead are cornerstones. In ROHL’s case, the latter may involve looking at the next generation. “I’d like to see both my girls pursue their interests, and if that includes joining ROHL, I’d like it very much,” says Mark. “Personally, I would be very proud working with my daughters. And professionally, perpetuating our family business is an essential component to our success.”
A Few Favorites… We asked the Rohl brothers to single out a design that their company has released in recent years.
-Lou: Stainless steel sinks
-Mark: The Graceline, a collaboration with designer Michael Berman.
-Greg: Perrin & Rowe collection.
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