Atlantis — Born+Bred for Bathrooms

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.

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