Sheboygan Falls, Wis.-based Bemis Manufacturing Co., the world's largest toilet seat maker, acquired Bio Bidet-brand maker BBC Innovations Corp. in Crystal Lake, Ill., to expand its product line of bidet toilets, smart toilet seats and accessories.
Founded in 1901, Bemis made wooden furniture and wagons before changing to toilet seats during the Great Depression and later added molding of plastic toilet seats and hinges.
The family-owned company's bathroom product line now includes elongated seats, heated seats, slow-closing seats, LED-lighted seats and potty training seats made from enameled wood, engineered thermoplastics and commodity resins.
With estimated annual sales of $265 million, Bemis ranks as the 36th-largest injection molder in North America, according to Plastics News' latest ranking.
In addition to Sheboygan Falls, Bemis production plants are in Lenoir, N.C., and Monterrey, Mexico.
While Bemis has sold some bidet products, the toilet seat maker entered the category "with a limited offering to get a foothold," Jon Bemis, general manager of Bio Bidet, said in a phone interview.
"We learned that to be a leader you need a full offering, a full catalog with products to meet all needs," said Bemis, a fourth-generation owner. "Bio Bidet has that, and that's why we were very interested to be a partner with them. This was as strategic of a fit as you could imagine between an innovative bidet company that is a market leader and Bemis, which has great brand recognition and great channels of distribution as the toilet seat leader. It's a great growth opportunity."
Bemis acquired BBC Innovations, which has been in business more than a decade, as part of a deal that went into effect Dec. 29, 2020. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Bemis said his family's company acquired the "master of this growing market" for bidets as well as a talented team. He declined to be more specific about the Crystal Lake facility and number of employees, but he did say the skilled staff was a "key part" of the acquisition.
"The people here have achieved staggering growth in this market in the last few years," Bemis said. "They are wired into product development and they have world-class digital marketing capabilities. They have been part of the secret sauce and they will be going forward."
The main expertise of the BBC Innovations staff is in design and consumer understanding, Bemis said.
"The core of what they do is develop products that are going to give the North American market, which has been thus far less interested in bidets, this new exciting category," he added.
For example, in 2020, Bio Bidet won an award from Good Housekeeping for its bidet toilet system called Prodigy, which retails for $2,400 and features three nozzle settings (oscillating, pulsating and rhythm), an enema function, a drier and a smart flusher that automatically activates the proper-sized flush.