I recall a talk I made to the production staff at Praxis, which is where my bathing fixture experience got its start twenty-four years ago. I had just returned from a trip to Massachusetts, where I had witnessed a mechanical contractor having a problem, because of a small manufacturing defect, installing a Praxis ADA showers at a hospital. This was only some months after I had begun my tenure at Praxis. I told the staff that our goal was not just to satisfy a contractor, a distributor, a rep, an architect or engineer, or even the hospital management and staff. Though each of those were important customers, our ultimate responsibility was to the person who, for whatever reason, had to be in the hospital room and might have to shower. That person deserved the very best shower we could possibly build because that shower may help them in the healing process. A shower is not just a shower. Not when it is in a hospital. And furthermore, to bring it really close to them, I said that person may one day be an aunt, or a sister, or a daughter, or father of one of them.
Some of those folks are still at Praxis and, occasionally when I see them, they tell me how they recollect that little talk and how it resonated with them. They tell me that, as we worked on innovations for ASA and accessible bating fixtures, innovations which would mean more orders for Praxis and work for them, they still remembered who our ultimate customer was and why.
When assisted living exploded on the scene in the mid-nineties, Praxis got in the game early. Praxis had been the first company to build an ANSI compliant one piece shower, following a design by Ron Mace, AIA, a pioneer in accessibility and an icon for the community needing access. Back then we were known by our brand name Aquarius. It seemed only reasonable to expect to be the leader in senior living bathing fixtures just as we were in hospital bathing fixtures. Under the guidance of Rick Millard, one of the early proponents of universal design, Praxis formed a new brand called Comfort Designs and set about the work of building an extensive array of accessible and code compliant tub showers and showers with design features specifically devoted to seniors. Rick pushed us to come up with innovations in installation like EasyBase™ and to make our senior living models look, not institutional, but home-like. And in the ensuing years Comfort Designs has built an ever expanding line for all parts of senior living and has moved, in a big way with the Inline Trench Shower Systems, into health care. Comfort Designs now offers models for all segments of senior living: Independent, Assisted, Memory Care, Skilled Nursing and Long Term Care. Now with Asura, Comfort Designs leads again. Asura is the next critical step in bringing beautiful, safe, secure, and durable bathing fixtures to senior living.
Now as Senior Advisor to American Bath Group, I think back to that talk I made to the productions staff. I am certainly glad that our people took it to heart and made being the leader, and building for our ultimate customer, our mantra. Because I am not just Senior Advisor, but a senior adviser, in sore need of total bath room renovation so that I can enjoy taking a shower knowing I will be secure and safe and able to use it, God willing, for a long time. And because Rick Millard had us focus not only on accessibility, safety, security and durability but home-like aesthetics, the Comfort Designs shower to be installed in my bathroom suits the very refined taste of my decorator, Sandra Silverstein.