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The QETTLE Blog

Tapping Into an Innovative Family Business Spirit

We were delighted to recently participate in the Family Business Road Trip and welcome Paul Andrews of Family Business United and Jennifer Leeder of Birketts. 

By their own admission, the family behind Greg Rowe Limited recognise that it is a ‘new brand from old hands’ which comes from an entrepreneurial founder who continues to drive innovation whilst at the same time transforming the tap into a multi-tasking kitchen appliance.  Paul Andrews spoke to the Rowe family to find out more.

The story begins back in 1965 when Greg Rowe met Bob Perrin whilst working together at Grohe UK before having the opportunity to form a tap design and manufacturing business of their own in 1978.  Fast forward to today and Greg Rowe Limited is now a second generation, family-owned business that has lived and breathed kitchen tap design and manufacturing for over fifty years. Throughout this time, the Rowe name has become synonymous with innovation, and they have been responsible for transforming the humble tap into a multi-functional, must-have product.

Their heritage includes the first three-in-one tap, Triflow® and the luxury kitchen and bathroom brassware brand Perrin & Rowe® but design ingenuity is the heartbeat of this business.

Bob retired in 2007 and the opportunity arose for Greg Rowe Snr to form his own business and to move back into the world of design and innovation, which is at the heart of all that they do and is clearly something that is in his DNA.

Today, QETTLE, which has secured global patents, is not only representative of the latest chapter in their founder Greg Rowe Sr’s commitment to product design and engineering excellence, but also of one family’s reputation as proud game-changers and blueprint makers.

Put simply, QETTLE are brilliant, British-designed and engineered boiling water taps.  What could be better than true, 100°C boiling water and filtered drinking water, plus normal hot and cold flows which all come from one tap? QETTLE is British innovation at its best, and better still, thanks to its ingenious, fully patented 4-in-1 design, QETTLE taps also come at pocket-friendly prices.

The QETTLE range spans QETTLE Mini, a 2-in-1 tap, the best-selling QETTLE Original and the British-engineered, stainless steel QETTLE Signature. Accessories and options include coloured finishes, matching mixer taps and a QETTLE Chiller.

This is a family that has designed a great product and followed their founder’s vision with a belief that there is a QETTLE for every kitchen. And today, the next generation, Greg Rowe Jr and his brother Todd, work alongside Greg Rowe Sr and his wife Alex. 

 

As Greg Rowe Sr explains, “Having the next generation of the family enter the business is great but it was never an easy option. They had to cut their teeth from the bottom up, sweep the factory floors, make the tea and learn about what we do, which at the same time helped them gain the respect of other employees.”

Greg Rowe Jr continues, “I decided to pursue a career as a chartered accountant and took on a training contract with a firm in Essex which I enjoyed. But when the Financial Controller retired, there was an opening in the business. After a period of discussion, I was offered the role, joined the business and eventually made my way up to Finance Director.”

Todd, on the other hand, was adamant that he did not want to join the business and became a derivatives’ trader in London before completing a degree in English and History at the University of London.  Time moved on and again there was an opportunity to join the business which he took, with his experience helping with everything from finetuning fulfilment and dispatch processes to implementing a sophisticated, and fully integrated CRM platform. He now has a key role within the digital, operations and logistics aspects of the business. 

Formerly Perrin & Rowe’s Marketing Manager, history graduate Alex went onto establish a successful PR consultancy specialising in kitchens, bathrooms and interiors, before being the last to return to the business as Marketing Director. She is now involved with QETTLE’s brand strategy, creates a wide range of content for various digital outlets and differing customer groups and is increasingly engaged with developing key sales opportunities.

The business is steeped in innovation, patents and a desire for continued improvement.  They are deliberate disruptors, and under the leadership and vision of Greg Rowe Snr have combined long-held design and engineering expertise with new technology to create a product – a ‘tap appliance’ – that is accessible to the mass market.

Greg Rowe Jr says, “Back in 2001, Dad stated he believed the future of tap design would include a tap with 4 in 1 functionality – and his prediction has been fulfilled. But it doesn’t stop there. We have plenty of ideas for continued product development, too.  Most importantly, we strive to constantly move forward. We have always been innovators, rather than duplicators, and we put a great deal of energy and investment into ensuring we retain this position in the marketplace.”

Alex adds, “There is much more to QETTLE than just being a tap. Before experiencing a boiling water tap, there’s often scepticism and the thinking that it’s a lot of money for a kettle that’s plumbed in. But after QETTLE, and once people have realised the myriad ways the tap can be used – from instant hot drinks and speedy snacks such as noodles, porridge and soup – to cooking shortcuts, filling hot water bottles and sterilising jam jars, the word ‘game-changer’ gets mentioned a lot. And of course, there’s also unlimited filtered drinking water, plus energy benefits, too.” 

Greg Rowe Snr is proud that this is a family business, but equally recognises the need to build a solid business with the right people in the right positions to drive the business forward.  He says, “It is great to have the next generation working with us but they are only here because they can do the job, and if they were part of a recruitment process for their roles today, I would still employ them as they are the right people with the skills that we need, and in no way employed because of who they are.”

He continues, “I am proud of what we have already built, but it is also important for me in terms of legacy, to provide the kids with an opportunity in my lifetime and to watch them grow and take it to the next level, whilst I am alive, which for me is so much better than leaving it to them later on.”

“Letting go is never going to be easy but for me, right from the start this was a business for the next generation, built around the whole family.”

Todd reiterates, “Dad always said and continues today with the fact that the business comes first.  It’s like a living organism and is a component of all of us that are involved.  We have a shared purpose, are all collectively building it and working towards a sustainable business for the future too.”

Greg Jnr agrees, adding that “Both Todd and I grew up when Dad was working hard in Perrin & Rowe, so have lived with taps and innovation all our lives. We grew up in this world, but when we get together outside of the business, it is important that work does not completely dominate the conversation. That said, it is never going to be easy when we all love what we do!”

Building the skills and competencies needed to drive the business forward is always on the agenda too with people being recruited into roles where they are needed.  People are at the heart of the business and the family recognise that they cannot do it all themselves. 

Greg Rowe Sr acknowledges, “We recruit the best we can for the roles we need and understand that we need to future proof the business through the way we work, the systems we operate and the innovations that we continue to drive into the business at every level.  I firmly believe that we need to look to the long term and that starts now, making sure we lay the foundations early.  For me, I would always advocate being brave, live, breathe and take the opportunity to shape your legacy each and every day and embrace the next generation by supporting them, empowering them in their roles and building the best team around you to give you every chance to succeed too.”

Outstanding innovation and engineering for over fifty years is at the heart of this family business and with the next generation fully engaged and leading the business, the next half-century years should continue to deliver more of the same as they continue to grow and develop, as a family and a business, harnessing their full potential and continuing to tap into the innovative skills that are built inherent within the business too.

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