America is well known as one of the world's biggest importers, especially, it seems, when it comes to goods made in China. But one Wisconsin-based company has become a net exporter of American-made goods to China and other countries overseas.
What's in such demand? High-end plumbing products. The Wall Street Journal reports that plumbing manufacturer Kohler has seen a growing demand overseas for its plumbing products, one of which is a robotic toilet called Numi. According to Engadget, Numi retails for $6,400 but a lot of technology and quality porcelain goes into this commode:
Looking something akin to a fancy pop-top waste bin, Numi comes complete with a self-opening and closing lid so you never have to touch the toilet seat; a self-cleaning bidet with adjustable controls for temperature and water pressure; heating elements to keep your toes and tush toasty; an illuminated panel for nighttime rendezvous; a built-in speaker system that connects to a remote docking station to ensure only you know exactly what you're doing in there; and a deodorizing element that sucks air from the bowl through a charcoal filter. Of course, no connected appliance would be complete without a touchscreen, and the Numi's no exception; it has a touch panel remote that you can use to set to your specifications.
Watch the Numi promo video to see it in all its glory:
Numi is currently on backorder according to WSJ. Other toilets and high-end sinks are in demand from the manufacturer as well.
WSJ reports Kohler's demand being split 50/50 between U.S. and overseas consumers, but its production in North America as dropped 30 percent since 2008, whereas it is building new factories aboard:
The company plans to open its 12th Chinese factory soon, in the central manufacturing city of Zibo. It says the facility will be the largest producer of pottery products in the country.
Still, Herbert V. Kohler Jr., Kohler's chairman and chief executive, is reported as saying without the downturn at home, the company may not have had the capacity to export the way it has now. For the company, the stable or growing demand overseas has helped reduce the blow that came with American's recession.