Our goal today is to continue with these values by making responsible and holistic decisions for the long-term benefit of our customers, employees, and environment.
If you run a company by a spreadsheet, there’s a good chance you’ll miss many important ideas and tangible objects. In our case, we could forget that the primary reason we come to work every day is to make great dinnerware and tile — but we don’t.
Local Manufacturing & the Real Cost
We believe that the craft of manufacturing has, to a great extent, been lost as a value in American culture, and strive to retain it. We also believe that it greatly influences and enables good design. All facets of our production are executed in our Sausalito factory and blend a mechanized process with hand craftsmanship to obtain the highest quality product. We want to change the relationship that customers have with things they buy by making tangible the process, people, and values that make their products. Local manufacturing has social and cultural rewards in bringing pride to a community. We strive to become a model for US manufacturing — inspiring designers and US manufacturers to think creatively about their business models, placing financial profit as the means, rather than the end.
The price of our products reflects the actual cost of producing products in a responsible manner. Products manufactured in the United Stated must comply with strict environmental standards and we go further with our stringent recycling and reuse programs. Our staff is fairly compensated, receives full health care benefits and has retirement benefits available. We would be the first to agree that it’s an expensive way to produce products, but we also believe that if you’re going to “talk the talk” you need to “walk the walk”. When we buy products that have been outsourced to other parts of the world that don’t share our social and environmental values, we can’t be sure that manufacturers are following the same rules that we ourselves have deemed important — and that’s typically what’s reflected in the cheaper price.
To our Customers – Product Safety
Our culture is one of enjoyment around the dinner table, and certainly the safety of our products for you and the friends and family you invite to your table is important to us. All our dinnerware products meet and exceed US and California safety standards for food use. And likewise for those with small eaters, our kids products meet and exceed US and California safety standards for food use and children’s products.
Out of curiosity we even voluntarily tested our tile, a building material, to the same consumer safety standards that our dinnerware and kid’s products go through. While not how one would typically use it, we're proud to say our tile products exceed those same standards for food use and children's products.
To us All – Environmental Responsibility
Products built to last a lifetime. Now that’s sustainable. Edith was being frugal and resourceful in 1946 — qualities she learned from growing up in the Great Depression. This same motivation inspired her to make products with longevity, designed right the first time, produced with thought and ultimately reducing waste and limiting the “cheap and easy” mentality. Heath is a rare example of a design-led manufacturer of products meant to be extremely durable, resist trends, and be functional for years to come. Many of our products have been in continuous production for over 60 years. In a society that has become accustomed to short-lived products, our goal in designing new colors and styles is to complement existing collections in order to increase the longevity of our products, not replace them.
One of the many benefits of bringing back manufacturing to urban environments is that the environmental standards, set for communities where people live, set a high goal for us to achieve as we manufacture. We strive not only to meet but to exceed these standards, rather than move our production to where there are low standards or no standards at all. In doing so, we can be even more certain that we are manufacturing in a way that is not harmful to the environment and community.
We have a gray-water system, which recycles all of the water used in our production for reuse in our glaze booths and other cleanup operations. We also recycle our scrap unfired clay, so there is recycled content in every product we make. We recycle glaze overspray from our application process, which is mixed in with fresh glaze for re-use.
We are one of just a few companies who proudly ship all of our products with ExpandOS, a great packing system made from 100% post-industrial waste and that is 100% reusable and recyclable.
Additionally, our seconds and overstock tile and dinnerware are an excellent example of products being diverted from the waste stream. All of these products are sold through our Sausalito factory store and make their way into happy homes, instead of being discarded and sent to landfill.
And, in the continuing to strive department: we are setting up our new San Francisco factory to be a zero waste manufacturing facility, meaning recycling 100 percent of materials back into product.
Our ceramic clay bodies require one firing as opposed to the more typical two firings, and are fired at a lower temperature than is customarily used to reach the same levels of durability. By rebuilding our kilns in 2009, we increased our kiln capacity allowing us to fire more tile per kiln, while at the same time reducing gas consumption in each firing. With our new kilns in our San Francisco factory, we expect our firing to be even more energy efficient.
We continue to find ways to reduce environmental impact in our entire organization. Our ultimate goal is to become a closed-gap company, always coming up with new creative ways to reuse and recycle our waste. Our goals of sustaining local manufacturing; creating high quality, well designed products; maintaining a fair and responsible workplace for our employees; and reducing our environmental impact helps us set our financial goals and business model, not the other way around.
Heath Ceramics was founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. Her social and environmental points of view were clear—create simple, good things for good people.