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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Company Washes Hands of Old Headquarters

Louchheim Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc. is investing $20 million in a new corporate headquarters and manufacturing plant in North Hollywood, replacing a building it has been in for 50 years. The long-time San Fernando Valley company is currently in the design stage of the project and anticipates construction to start by late summer or early fall on the 3.5-acre parcel on Tujunga Avenue about 500 yards from the current facility in the 11600 block of Hart Street. Bobrick President Mark Louchheim said he has known for years the company would need to move and the triggering event was losing a lease last year on an adjacent building where Bobrick had a warehouse and offices. A benefit of the new headquarters is that all the operations will be under a single roof making for more efficient workflow and collaborative work environment. Over the decades, the company grew piecemeal and took space where it could find it outside the main headquarters, Louchheim said. “It makes communication difficult and more difficult to make decisions and move quickly, which you need to do in this day and age,” he said. Bobrick has enlisted noted San Francisco architectural firm Gensler for the design concepts and office interiors, and RGA Office of Architectural Design of Irvine for the building’s exterior. Financing for the project was provided by Wells Fargo Bank. Bobrick was founded more than 100 years ago by the Bobrick family. Louchheim’s grandfather purchased the company in the late 1940s. Bobrick moved in 1966 from the Elysian Park neighborhood of Los Angeles to North Hollywood. The company designs and manufactures washroom and toilet compartment accessories and partitions for non-residential locations. Among the company’s brands are Koala Kare Child Care products, which manufactures diaper changers often found in public restrooms. Bobrick has manufacturing and distribution facilities in Centennial, Colo.; Durant, Okla.; Jackson, Tenn.; and Clifton Park, N.Y. Louchheim said the new building is being designed to support the company for decades to come. “There is going to be presence to it,” he said. “We are going with the offices over the factory so it will allow for expansion of the administrative headquarters.” The interior design will also allow for collaboration between design engineers, manufacturing engineers, sales staff and marketing. All those functions are currently in different locations. Gensler was hired to design the interiors because of its expertise in creating team-centered learning spaces, Louchheim said. “They are really at the front edge of helping to build a collaborative environment,” he added. Construction on the new building is expected to take between 15 months and 18 months, so it will be ready at about the same time that Louchheim anticipates new office and industrial construction will begin to pick up. Bobrick faced challenges when the economy tanked in 2008 and the company used that as an opportunity to invest in new products. Just getting onto the market are a new soap dispenser and an ADA compliant tampon dispenser. “This is a great time to be doing these things,” Louchheim said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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