Kiwi Culture Runs Deep In This New Zealand-Founded Appliance Brand

Real Estate

With so many people doing more cooking than ever in their homes, there is a growing interest in home appliances. Many of the appliance companies have evolved over the years and come up with much of the new technology that is apparent today.

One of those companies is Fisher & Paykel, founded in 1934 in Auckland, New Zealand. Woolf Fisher and Maurice Paykel started their business importing refrigerators, washing machines and radios. In 1940, they began to manufacture with their  first appliance – the Whiteway Washing Machine (a large round white unit standing on 4 castors with a top lid). In the years that followed they designed and engineered many other laundry and kitchen appliances, eventually purchasing DCS, an American manufacturer of outdoor appliances with a patented grease management system for outdoor grills, a system that is still used today. In 2002 Fisher & Paykel launched the first 30″ Built in Wall Oven with the brand’s patented Aerotech™ technology that circulates heat evenly throughout the oven on every shelf. In 2008, the brand launched the CoolDraw – a multi-temperature drawer-based refrigerator – with ActiveSmart technology (a technology that learns use patterns to strategically conserve energy and preserve food more accurately) and zoning for refrigeration at different temperatures. They invented the first dishwasher drawer in 1997, which has become increasingly popular, particularly for physically challenged people. Coming from New Zealand, the company has maintained a strong respect for the environment with the appliances they produce as well as their emphasis on functionality. Over the course of 86 years (and counting) FIsher & Paykel has remained rooted in New Zealand culture while expanding globally.

I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Dexter, President & CEO North America, Fisher & Paykel and find out more about this 86 year old company.

How does your company’s New Zealand heritage translate into appliance design? 

Fisher & Paykel develops appliances that are tailored to individual needs through design and technology. When we as human-beings source food at the grocery store or farmer’s market, the ingredients we choose are chosen for a host of reasons – using each ingredient at its best brings a heightened level of enjoyment to the food we eat as well as the nutrition we derive from the food. As a compay, therefore, with our robust research team and lab located at our global headquarters in New Zealand, have created a technology to enhance food preservation, with our Variable Temperature Zone technology driven by years of research and industry-leading engineering. 

What motivated your company to begin producing a dishwasher drawer? What do you think is the particular need for this appliance? 

Fisher & Paykel is widely known across the industry as the inventor of the dishwasher drawer, which we call the DishDrawer. It’s a perfect example of our sense of curiosity and challenging the norm. When we put out this product, we weren’t trying to design a better dishwasher, rather we took a look at how people lived their lives and the benefits we could offer someone within their kitchen space. We spent time in people’s kitchens and realized they used drawers in every room of the house, so why not the dishwasher? 

Through the product development process, we learned that the usability of a drawer was much more ergonomic than a traditional dishwasher or equivalent cabinet space. Moreover, the DishDrawer is sustainable in water consumption, offers precise performance, allows more space for dishes and comes in a variety of sizes and shapes to serve different needs. The DishDrawer fills a need in the market currently found to be easier for physically challenged individuals – with the drawers being more acessable and easier to load and unload. The DishDrawer is therefore ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. 

How has the company worked to create more efficient and sustainable appliances?

At Fisher & Paykel we have a deep respect for our planet are committed to minimizing our environmental footprint where we can. We strive to live more sustainably, with appliances designed to reduce energy and water use, without compromising on performance.  These philosophies continue to be heavily influenced by our New Zealand culture. Our DishDrawer™ dishwashers, for example, are Energy Star rated, using approximately 1.81 gallons of water in a single drawer per cycle and 3.28 gallons of water when running a double DishDrawer™ (using both drawer tubs). In comparison, a non-efficient dishwasher consumes on average 15-18 gallons of water per cycle. Innovation in creating technology such as our ActiveSmart™ technology is an example of how innovation meets sustainability efforts for our brand. ActiveSmart™, a technology implemented across our refrigeration products, is a technology that learns the way users live, to preserve and cut down on energy use. 

 

What are the newest innovations in outdoor kitchen appliances? How has your company met the new demands for outdoor kitchens?

Two of our newest for the outdoor kitchen include DCS by Fisher & Paykel 30″ Griddle and 24″  Power Burner, two accessories to accompany the brand’s Series 9 Grill. These two grilling accessories are innovations in outdoor cooking in both their own right and also in their capacity to afford all cooking types exterior to grilling outside – i.e. you can cook everything from scrambled eggs to fried rice to grilled cheese on the griddle and you can do everything from frying a 20 lb turkey to simmering pasta sauce to cooking a crawfish boil on the power burner. These appliances now create a fully operational kitchen that is useable in the same capacity of an indoor kitchen.

Have you seen the Covid19 have an influence on how consumers have been buying your appliance?

In this current Covid-19 climate, we’ve seen premium appliances continue to be highly researched. What’s been interesting is that we’ve seen significant near, mid, and long term evolution of technology tools, such as Virtual Showrooms, to replace the need or desire for physical interactions prior to final purchase.

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