Kohler....

I was contacted by a headhunter this week who found my res on Monster.com.

After providing portfolio material, and a phone interview, he wants to submit my material to Kohler’s design management team; a group that meets every two weeks.

So what’s with a company that maintains an on-going design recruitment “team.” I get the distinct feeling that Kohler may be a use’em and loos’em outfit.

Anyone has first had experience with them?

Anyone has first had experience with them?

WTF?!?!? Proofread?

Has anyone had first-hand experience with them (Kohler)?

apparently a couple years ago, the design head retired leaving no clear line of ascention, and the individual not chosen to take over left. Many who preferred that individual also left. Things were chaotic for several years as people came and went. Havn’t heard much lately about conditions there - but the hiring has slowed.

I have heard that they are moving toward a virtual product line.

Lots of design and many offerings, without a warehouse of product. Only the requested designs get made in the factory.

I suppose this could be a good way to show a huge amount of creativity without as many barriers in a typical corporate environment. Then treat the requested product as a survival of the fittest method of rating your designs.

I have heard nothing but great things about Kohler. They have a tremendous committment to design and a lot of respect for their user. They also treat their emploees very well…from what I have heard.

If I were you i would strongly consider an offer from them.

what area of design were you/headhunter looking into?

It could simply be that they staff a large number of designers and that their location may make it necessary for recruiters. I wouldn’t be worried because of that.

Is the recruiter one that specifically deals with industrial design? Could be important especially when negotiations come up.

aaron, are you high?

In the last 2 yrs, 80% of the designers have quit! And more quit just recently! All because of the nut-job they have as vp of design i’m told. it’s crazy they don’t do anything about it. It’s like the designers there (underpaid, btw) are nothing but temps to be used and discarded.

You’d be crazy to go there if half the stories (lots of them) I have heard are true. and no I won’t offer my sources.

Hey all,

I been out of town. Thanks for all the responses to my question.

This position is an ID job, the HeadHunter is on contract (as a company representative) with Kohler management to locate and secure talent.

My cousin, a designer/account manager with a large Milwaukee printing firm, has told me that kohler is a great company, but not one that I should relocate for; code for: you’ll have some fun, but the design staff tends to be transient. More code for turns-over often.

a lot of respect for their user.

I’m not clear on what you mean by this Aaron.

In the end Kohler will get what it pays for; no commitment to people leads to no commitment to the company = no company. There will always be youngsters who need that “first job”, but at the point I am in my career I’m looking for a transition into long-term management slot.

I think I will try to maintain a postive attitude,complete this interview process just to see what falls out.

Recruiters feet are held closer to the fire than 8-10 years ago.

They no longer can have a 75% fit and still place a new employee with a client. Clients have caught on to that game. If a recruiter is truly hunting you, then your resume truly fills a very high percentage of requirements.

However I just had a recruiter tell me that I did not posess the correct talents for an employer. I smirked.

Funny, I worked for that employer( not Kohler) and left on good terms and the basic core requirements for the position were listed on the first line in my skills area. The recruiter was either new or reading another resume in their other hand. I also know that recruiting agency had a hard time placing employees at the location.

Your due diligence in this investigation should also see how the recruiting agency does with the client.

Hopefully you are dealing with a professional recruiting agency that is reading your resume for the content and not putting square pegs in round holes.

Have heard nothing but bad things about working here. Don’t have specifics, just have had friends work there, and leave. I think they might’ve been part of that 80% exodus that someone else mentioned.

I know of a couple other individuals who have been contacted over the past 6 months, my self included. Personally non of us felt the offer was even close to being reasonable for the amount of experience, and skill level they wanted. Based on the cost of living is essentially the same as were a I am now, and they offered basically a 30% reduction in pay, and a 90% reduction in benefits.

I have also heard the stories of high turnover, as I have seen an ongoing recruitment effort since I left school 6 yrs ago. But then they are essentially a fashion industry so the turnover rate should be higher than most corporate design offices.

…fashion industries turn-over 1-4 times a yr…how many times a yr do you replace a bath tub or even a faucet?..kohler like many have forgotten that their people made them successful…not the royal blood line that runs/owns the company.

How often do you replace Ceiling fans, Chandeliers, or Wall Sconces? As I have extensive experience in these markets for companies such as Hunter, Emerson Air Comfort, Fanimation, Hampton Bay, Quizel, etc. All of which are considered fashion based industries.

Technically all home furnishings are considered fashion based products due to the fact that the products choices, colors, materials, and trends change every 3-6 months. Design in these areas are based primarily on royalty if consulting, and if inhouse design teams are switched up every 6-18 months depending on the success of the teams projects.

I have friends who work for kohler and the % of designers who left the company in last 2 years are around 50%…~18 designers.
There is an issue with the executive management and the reasons are many, not just one. It has partly to do with the VP of design but more so with the Lead designers who are clueless about what to do.
You will be underpaid but then sheboygan is a great place to raise a family.
Pick and choose, as many of the designers have done, the ones who have decided to stay.



the main issue here is that they don’t want to raise design salaries/ranks after a certain amount of time. instead the brand and VP take credit for better performing products while the designer is only filling a position until next job.

it’s not just kohler, but a lot of companies that deal with the same type of hardware based products have decided to go this way due to simplistic technology / engineering, abundance of design jocks, startup firms and no-name independent designers living on royalty who are also eager to do small projects like a low cost shower head.

if any management thinks by switching design teams and feeding off royalty their company has a better grasp of fashion trends, innovative input, and most importantly progressive brand development/improvement they’re probably just handling it that way for the sake of not falling behind in management trends. but in virtue it’s absurd not only from a design point of view but also from a business perspective.

the reason is you can always promote by performance and create better products and increase the value as appropriate therefore improving the brand, quality, and the way design is carried out to make an high end product.

but the way it is right now there’s no real competition. everything is prefab, from the concept to finish. the designer is just a medium. to treat a designer as a medium creates an environment that is non-creative and opposes the fabric of an innovative design process.

however, when you rely on your brand name, sales and advertising and as long as you offer a product that can survive the market and continue to sell you won’t bother with other realities like design infrastructure and innovation as they truly are. so you fake it!

this is almost an industry standard for bigger names who have budget clients like contractors/architects and those individuals who just order by catalogue buying a wellknown brand.

over all i’m not surprised.

WOW…UFO

you finally make a reasonable and appropriate post. I think you did a good job of summing up this market catagory, and company’s approach to design.


In general this whole home furnishing industry is and untill there are great strides in technology will always be tough nut for an industrial designer to crack… well atleast to crack and profit adiquatly from cracking it. This is because of the flood of people submitting designs to companies. Interior designer, Architects, artist, historical revivals, etc. The true power of design process will never see the light of day in such organisations.

Years back I thought Kohler would change this; based on the development process that they under took to bring out the infinity tub and the assescories with in that line of products. However, it seams that that was just a fluke, or they just did not get what they were hoping out of it.

I think a point could be made that Kohler ( and other large companies inside of a niche industry) have quite a bit of power supplying design jobs.

Turnover is the result, however at least there are jobs supported.

As an independent design group, or small designhouse, you could hire year old Kohler designers with minor experience that is worthwhile, or you could hire fresh design school graduates.

Smaller design houses are not as likely to hire zero work experience individuals vs. minimal experience individuals.

Even with mass exodus at a company, in the long run it might be beneficial for the design community as a whole.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like Kohler has a problem with it’s feet getting kicked out from underneath. Their business strategy evidently does not have issues with certain types of employee turn.

maybe, but there’s another subtle issue which could be important to some designers while unimportant to others. the company’s strategy/planning vs that of the individual designers.

even with no experience i imagine it would be a designer’s concern to figure out how it would be appropriate to approach the work structure and get maximum benefit from being a part of such business as a designer.

ofcourse designers are not machines and they have certain values too that need to be compromised. the first question is if that compromise is worth the effort in the long run.

i guess having kohler name on your resume might attract some attention but essentially the second big question is whether there’s no other reality out there. in other words do you get a kickstart because of your experience with kohler or actually you get marked as an attendee designer realising it’s a well known fact how the company operates.

imo if you get hired there the gain is not the experience rather the unexperience or how one might put it the inverse effect .