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DayCreek Journal

March 20, 2004

A Googling Toilet Story

Bob Kaplan, President of LW Paul Supply Company was doing a search on Google one day. He typed the words: "Caroma Toilet Chicago" into Google's search engine and up came a list of references. He probably expected to see his company's name listed as THE supplier of Caroma toilets in the Chicago area, but instead the first title read:

"DayCreek Journal - January 25, 2003
... Caroma's are not the easiest toilet to find here in the US, but it just so happens that there is a distributor of the Caroma toilet in the Chicago area, and ... "

This must have drawn his attention to our web site and specifically to the article about my adventures in purchasing a Caroma toilet. The Caroma toilet is a "dual flusher", one button for #1 and the other button for #2. This toilet is a wonderful invention for conserving water— there's no reason to flush a full 1.6 gallons of water down the drain for a #1.

About a year ago, I took a drive to see this toilet in action with the intent of purchasing this fine invention of Australia. As a matter of fact, my friends had taken up a collection to help with the purchase of this toilet because as they told me, "This toilet is so YOU."

I made the trip down to Worth, Illinois to see the marvel of marvels but realized once I saw it that it was bolted to the floor and not the toilet flange. This was going to be a major problem for me because of the radiant floor tubing imbedded in the slab. Drilling into the concrete slab would not be a good thing as you might imagine. So, I left disappointed and without a Caroma toilet.

Back to Bob... Bob reads the journal and realizes that the plumbing supply house that I went to visit was none other than his company. I never mentioned his company's name in the Journal, but he must have put two and two together since there are not too many places in the area that sell Caroma toilets.

About two weeks ago, I received an email from Bob describing what he had learned and was quite apologetic. Bob explained that there are a couple of models that DO NOT mount to the floor but rather the toilet flange. Evidently, the company employee who showed me the toilet was not aware of it. Bob offered to sell one of the toilets at his cost in order to compensate me for my time and trouble.

As soon as I read Bob's email, I had to call him. This was one of the most heart warming apology letters I had ever received regarding a toilet. (Actually, it's the only toilet apology letter I have ever received.)

Bob and I had a great conversation about the whole "incident" and he also explained to me how he has been trying to market this toilet to a number of hotels and businesses in the Chicago area. He has also been working with Mayor Daley's office to help promote this and other water conservation products throughout the city. (Mayor Daley, by the way is actually doing a pretty good job at "Greening" up the Chicago area.)

To make a long story short, I now have in my hands a Caroma toilet. My plans are to replace the Toto toilet with the new Caroma and install the Toto toilet in the upstairs bathroom when I get around to it. This toilet will be a great conservation and conversation piece. I like the Toto toilet, but it will be "de-throned" in the very near future.

I cannot say enough about Bob Kaplan and LW Paul Supply. Most people today would chalk it up to experience and never take the time to write a letter of apology. It is very heart warming to know that their are company executives out there who truly care about their customers. If you are ever in the market for a Caroma toilet or other plumbing supplies, I highly recommend them. You can visit their web site by clicking here. (UPDATE: Paul Supply no longer carries the Caroma toilet. If you are interested, you might want to contact Coroma's sales office in your area. )

One final note: Besides considering water conservation products in your home, you may also want to consider promoting these products in your place of business—especially schools and public places. Bob showed me a flushless urinal that has started to catch on here in the United States. They are odorless and do not require any water, just a drain. The cartridges that seal at the bottom of the bowl are quite ingenious. There is a liquid in the cartridge that is lighter than water and/or urine which keeps the odor out and allows the urine to pass through the cartridge and into the drain. No water is ever needed. Now you know the rest of the story. Page 2.

All Decked Out
Well, actually the house is only partially decked out, but one of my many spring projects this year is to build a deck railing. I'm always on the lookout for good deals on close-out items and a few year's back Menards was closing out their inventory on a sunburst design used for deck railings. Since I do a lot of driving between the Chicago area and Minnesota, there's plenty of Menards along the route. It took a bit of work, but I was able to buy 21 of these sunbursts to go around the perimeter of the house, plus the bridge in back of the house. If the weather cooperates, I should have the railings completed in a week or so.

Car Update
The Subaru Legacy is still dead. An insurance adjuster has been out to see Jo's old baby and although we hate to see it euthanized, it's days may be numbered thanks to those darn mice!

Solar Electric System
The insurance issue has been cleared up which is a good thing. Our local cooperative has accepted a certificate of liability insurance and our insurance provider will be sending them the certificate sometime this coming week. With this major hurdle out of the way, I will probably be putting down a deposit on a system sometime in the next week and sending in the necessary paper work to get the ball rolling. This is going to be a HUGE project over the next month or two, but I feel it is worth the time and effort. Receiving $2,000 per kW of PV is a pretty good deal and while opportunity is knocking I figure I better answer the door.

On the downside, our local cooperative is still having a hard time coming up with an acceptable average retail rate because I am on their Dual-Fuel program. I will be meeting with them this week to try to come to terms over this. Minnesota law says that my local cooperative must purchase my excess power at the "average cooperative rate." Unfortunately, the state is not very clear as to what that number should be and it is up to the local cooperative to compute this rate based on their pricing structure. It's a muddy situation because of the Dual-Fuel boiler that I use to augment our heating during the coldest of winter months. I will be writing about this in detail in the weeks to come. It has been an interesting ride so far.

That's it for now. Lots to do!

There are still plenty of eagles around the La Crosse, WI area. This photograph was taken in Pettibone Park just a few days ago.