Advance Plumbing — family-owned for almost a century — has opened a 20,000-square-foot space in Midtown Detroit.
Suzanne Chessler Contributing Writer
Home buyers and home renovators can try out more than 50 working showerheads, 20 working kitchen and bathroom faucets, and five working toilets when they visit the new Midtown Detroit showroom of Advance Plumbing & Heating Supply Co.
The working products are found amid a vast array of display items that include lighting fixtures — all to help customers experience products before deciding what fits their needs for convenience and comfort.
The 5,000 feet of display area takes visitors into the city’s first-ever decorative plumbing showroom, where videos are being planned to enhance the shopping experience when hands-on is not available.
Advance Plumbing, a fourth-generation family business that has had a Detroit presence for 99 years, decided to invest in a state-of-the-art customer facility where urban development is catching public attention way beyond Michigan.
The opening was celebrated in September with a ribbon cutting by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and a large reception featuring Detroit themes and a preview to hundreds of guests.
“The city is booming, and we wanted to be part of the resurgence,” says Joshua Moss, vice president. “There’s construction all around us — apartments, restaurants, bars and retail stores — with a lot of people moving back. Our location also is convenient for people living along the outskirts of the city.
“We started looking for a building with 20,000 square feet so we could move our offices and warehouse space as well, and we found the right location on Parsons Street. We were helped along with a $100,000 grant from the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation’s Motor City Match, added to our $2 million commitment to restore the building.”
The one-level structure, enhanced with abundant parking space, follows years of customer service out of a retail center on Grand River, where the development of the Lodge Freeway cut into operational footage. Aside from the decorative products, Advance continues to sell pipes, fittings and boilers.
While Advance Plumbing also maintains its Walled Lake showroom, the longtime enterprise still requires additional offsite warehouse facilities.
It would have been hard to imagine the high-tech innovations that have come into plumbing, particularly for homes, when Moss’ late great- grandfather started the business and even as it was moved along by his son-in-law, the late Ronald Moss.
Jeffrey Moss, son of Ronald and dad of Joshua and Justin, has watched the introduction of digital controls. For instance, a shower panel allows people to operate various water functions and accessories from one central point that also enables a phone connection.
“The ultimate luxury sink — at about $3,000 — is manufactured by Franke Kitchen Systems,” Moss says. “It has all kinds of built-in accessories, including a cutting board, colander and drain pan. There are different compartments for wine bottles and compost.
“The ultimate luxury product for a bathroom would be the Toto Neorest Toilet at about $13,000. It hangs from the wall and has a heated seat and bidet. The most impressive feature is that it’s self-cleaning because of an ultraviolet light.”
Advance is prepared to supply vintage Detroit houses being converted into up-to-date living quarters. Very popular is changing old radiators into heated towel warmers that warm a bedroom as well.
Whatever customers pick according to their tastes and budgets, the trending colors are matte black and sand brass, Moss advises. Specific fixture trends are shower heads that make the water stream feel like rain and free-standing tubs with full bases going down to the floor for a contemporary look that complements contemporary add-ons — resurge pumps to keep the temperature hot, body massage capabilities and rotating jets.
With the advent of the Internet, the Moss family is meeting customers who have done lots of research on availabilities and have ideas about specifics they want.
“We advise shoppers not to be overwhelmed when they walk in,” Moss says. “We have trained staff to guide them through the process of identifying products that meet their needs. We’ve brought in brands that are exclusive to us to separate us from the competition, and we can recommend contractors.”
As the Mosses settle into their new building, they remain enthusiastic about participating in community activities that promote and help other businesses. They sponsor design events and support the Downtown Living Tour and the Detroit Home Design Awards.
“It’s an honor to be working with my family in this legacy business,” says Moss, a member of Temple Israel. “My brother and I follow through with our own responsibilities under the direction of my dad [Jeffrey Moss]. I’m in charge of the showroom, and Justin is in charge of the service counters. Outside of work, we enjoy getting together for at-home family dinners every week surrounded by our own fixtures from Advance.”