The Warner family tell us how they are making showers and bathroom products that not only look great but are designed to last.
WORDS TALIA WALDEGRAVE PHOTOS TRACIE HEASMAN
Atlantis is colossal, and not what I was expecting. I had envisaged a small shower showroom, but this is a mammoth and amazingly chic building on the fringe of the Tauriko commercial hub.
I’m here to meet Marketing Manager Jo, but soon find I’m interviewing an entire clan. Founding father Bruce Warner, wife Elaine, and their three sons, Lewis, Alex and Curtis, pile into the staffroom armed with oodles of food. Jo comes too, of course. I feel like a stranger at someone else’s dinner table, but I’m certainly not uncomfortable. Banter and jibes create a hubbub — everyone is talking at once.
“Jo isn’t actually blood,” Bruce points out, “but she’s still family. She’s been here a long time and is a very important part of our business.”
He tries to say more but Alex speaks over him, “This place is all about family.”
His children call Bruce THE INVENTOR. Innovative, determined and constantly scribbling ideas on napkins or scraps of wood, Bruce’s life mission is to create the perfect shower.
“It all started out of the necessity for a tiled shower in our own home over 20 years ago: one that wouldn’t leak. I’m very particular about quality. I can’t get my head around just making something to sell. That’s not how it works. I was always taught, when you do something, do it once and do it well.”
It’s not long before Bruce is interrupted. Lewis, THE BUSINESSMAN, is the eldest and loves a good debate.
“I always knew in the back of my mind that I’d get involved in the family business. When I finally approached Dad about it, he promised to buy me a ute if I started the next day. I’m still waiting for it!
“The thing about our business is that no one had ever done it before. This isn’t a stockstandard shower unit. We serve a niche market and always try to be ahead of the curve.”
Alex, the middle son and aptly named THE CREATIVE, is still at university studying design, but juggles his studies while simultaneously designing for Atlantis.
“The design process takes time. I’m a bit like Dad in that sense, and we both understand that it’s all about detail. It needs to be done properly.”
Curtis, THE MAKER, is the youngest and fresh out of Tauranga Boys’ College. “I prefer to be behind the tools; I enjoy making things.” He doesn’t say much, but doesn’t need to. The praise from the rest of the team comes in thick and strong.
“Curtis can make anything!” “He’s the clever one!” “Whatever it is, he’ll challenge himself to do it!”
Behind every good man there’s an even better woman, and behind these four blokes is Elaine, THE LEVEL HEAD.
“I’m just in the background, keeping an eye on what’s going on.”
I know instantly how modest this comment is, because I’ve already heard about the late nights at the Atlantis factory, and the constant banging and tinkering with old cars in the Warner family shed.
“The boys all have very different but complementary skill sets. Bruce used to do everything himself, but now he has a good sounding board in the boys, in addition to a long-standing, hard-working team that we consider to be part of our family.”
I realise we haven’t talked much about showers but we don’t really need to. Each family member brings something utterly unique to this business and the quality of the products they manufacture.
Locally made and often selected for high-end homes and commercial projects — thanks to their commitment to quality — Atlantis tiled showers come with a 25-year leak-free guarantee. As Bruce reiterates, “You’ll never have to worry about your shower leaking, nor replacing it ever again.”
After meeting this family team and learning about the skills, time and passion that goes into each product, I am a total believer.