By Michele Keith
What is Watermark Designs?
There are companies that are “in” a location, and then there are companies that are “of” a location. Watermark Designs is the Brooklyn-based manufacturer of plumbing fixtures. They create bathroom accessories, lighting and elegant hardware for luxury commercial and residential markets. As president and third-generation owner Avi Abel relates, “Brooklyn is as much a fiber of our being as our products.”
What has kept Watermark in Brooklyn since it began nearly 40 years ago? “We’re very close to the highest concentration of architects and designers in North America,” says Abel. “This helps us keep our finger on the pulse of new trends and designs. We also have access to skilled artisans from around the world. They come to this country for a better life, bringing with them skill sets that are hard to find elsewhere.”
Most Watermark employees are local Brooklynites, with many walking to work, Abel says, though quickly adding with a laugh, “Living here is not a pre-requisite for working here! We encourage a family atmosphere, celebrate our different cultures and enjoy a warm, safe environment.” Working at Watermark is nearly a rite of passage for many since it helps new arrivals assimilate into the community at large.
Watermark Designs is always searching for new ways to reach out to neighborhood residents. They post job openings at local colleges. They encourage graduates with engineering degrees to consider them for a career. In addition, the company liaises with nearby employment centers, features a dedicated email for resumes on its website, and is an active member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and East New York Development Center.
Abel believes strongly in staying local, saying, “We source as many of our raw materials here as possible—I actually do get my brass from a business down the street—and we manufacture each and every product here.” It’s a point of pride for the company that is expressed in big and small ways, like the tape used for sealing boxes which boldly states: “Made in Brooklyn.”
“We prove again and again that manufacturing in the USA, and Brooklyn in particular, is a thriving and worthwhile endeavor.” Spoken like a proud New Yorker indeed!