BY FRANCIE HEALY

At Tego Bathroom Design and Renovation Centre, everything comes down to one thing: The customer.

The company has been around since 1988. It has won awards and created beautiful, innovative bathrooms – works of art, really: bathrooms with creativity and function.

But the thing that keeps bringing people into the showroom on Merivale Road is the company’s reputation for a great customer experience.

Co-owner John Manzo talks about the customers who say the level of service they get from Tego is beyond what they expected, and others who say the site is so clean that when the crew leaves it looks as though no one has been there at all.

John says Tego clients like to ask “what if?” What if we made this taller, or that more accessible, or something else hidden altogether? It’s often how new solutions are invented. The Tego team likes to come up with answers no one has thought of before, Great care makes great bathrooms Zero threshold Canadian soapstone shower base with Corian bench seat and custom shower glass. Wall hung heated soapstone bench with heated towel bars. and often those solutions become part of future projects as well.

Tego installers are part of the team. They’re not hired from “outside”, and so the work they do is as careful, considerate and detailed as everyone else’s.

“Everyone here is working on your project,” John explains. “We’re efficient. We create and pre-assemble things like cabinets in our shop, and this makes us productive and effective.”

Many ideas grow out of Tego’s custom solutions, but one of the nicest, perhaps, is a heated soapstone bench that is suspended off the floor.

“It’s like sitting on a warm rock when you get out of the lake in the summer,” John says. “You get out of the shower, have a nice warm seat to sit on, and a floor that’s heated.”

Soapstone has become a popular bathroom feature. Tego works hand-in-hand with Canadian Soapstone™ in Quebec City. The two companies learn from each other. It might be a matter of installation or function, but there’s always that eye open to make things better for the customer.

Perhaps this is simply because Tego doesn’t do anything else. It does bathrooms.

That’s its whole life.

Well, mostly.

“We do sometimes end up doing a lot more than a bathroom,” says John. “It’s not uncommon for us to do the whole main floor, or to create unique walk-in closets.”

The company works with contractors as well as individual clients, and with custom builders. It is an active member of Reno- Mark™ and shares knowledge and design time with other RenoMark renovators.

One of Tego’s designers, Lauren Bowen, tells how she thoroughly enjoyed designing an ensuite bathroom that had once been a narrow walk-in closet in an older home.

“The really challenging projects are the ones when you’re working in a really small space,” she says. “Finding innovative storage solutions to maximize the function of small spaces − and making them feel big − is one of my favourite things to do.”

Recently the Tego Design Team came up with an interesting feature. They incorporated hidden “pop-out” shelves into the stone fireplace wall in the showroom bathroom. Clients visiting the showroom can imagine how they might soak in a luxurious bathtub with a glass of wine: how they could just push a button and two shelves – the perfect size for a glass of wine – would slide out.

Another time the team was involved in designing a hidden locked compartment in a linen tower cabinet. There was a client who wanted more storage than usual with many recessed cabinets incorporated into a small area.

“I don’t think we’ve ever put that much storage into that size of bathroom before,” Lauren says.

It all speaks to the innovative, inventive strategies the Tego design team uses to create what the customer wants and needs.

“People might ask – can we do this? Can we do that? We either find it or we make it. Most of the time we make it.”

Tego has three designers on the team. Besides Lauren, there are Kristin Oakley and Bailey Delanty. Although a client typically works closely with either Lauren, Kristin or Bailey, the three often help each other when needed. It might be a matter of consulting over the best use of a colour combination, or as a sounding board for a new idea.

Lauren likes to talk about the client who came to them with many details, questions, and wishes. The client had also gone to three other companies and received quotes from them. When it came down to deciding which company to use, she chose Tego, even though Tego’s quote was a bit higher. The client chose Tego on the basis of what others said. She had spoken to references. All reported that Tego was the best company they had ever worked with – and the cleanest on site. They said they were treated well from the time they walked in the door of the showroom.

“Trust is a big thing,” Lauren explains. “Being able to establish that is a critical part of the design and renovation process. People learn they can trust us, that we care.

” It’s probably the main reason Tego gets a lot of repeat customers. It’s not because their bathrooms wear out. In fact, they don’t. But when they want a change, they return.

“Let’s say clients sell their house,” John says. “Their bathroom still looks the same as it did the day it went in 12 years ago, but now they want a new one for their next house.” Others might simply be tired of the colours they chose 20 years ago. The old Tego bathroom still looks great; they simply want to update it.

John adds that a Tego bathroom is an asset when it comes to selling your house later on. Many Tego bathrooms are created with “universal design”, which means they’re ideal for people aging-in-place, or for elderly visitors, or for people with a disability. He says soapstone floors are perfect for that because the material is naturally non-slip when it is wet. The floor is a one-piece slab with no curb, and everything slopes towards the drain.

The “universal design” bathrooms have hand shower rails and towel bars that also function as attractive grab bars. Tego works closely with Healthcraft and Keuco Products for quality, but with a design twist that creates an elegant look as well. This is not new; Tego has been designing universally functional and beautiful bathrooms for years.

“We’ve always been ahead of the curve,” John says.