Pre-K–12 Education; 1,000 Students and Staff
While education is free in Poland, the market for private schools—niepubliczne in Polish—is growing.
Parents are willing to pay upwards of $25,000 per year so their children can experience more individualized attention and gain skills that are not taught in public schools. The American School in Warsaw, Poland, is one such private school.
There, students are offered both an American High School Diploma and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The American School prepares students for colleges and universities around the world. In addition to an American standard of education, the school must meet American plumbing standards and codes.
The American School installed standard bubbler drinking fountains throughout the school just five years ago. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Polish government ordered all bubbler fountains to be disabled for fear of the spread of bacteria and germs. However, doing away with drinking water was not an option. The school manager was looking for a no-touch solution to provide students and faculty with fresh, clean drinking water, and they needed the solution in just a few weeks—before the school opened.
He did what anyone would do these days and Googled his options. On the first page of search results, he found Topserw, owner of the Zdrojownia brand, which is Murdock’s European distributor based in Poland.
Topserw met with the school administration, toured the building, and laid out a plan. That plan included 50 H2O-to-Go!® Sensor-Operated Water Refill Stations (BF16) installed at 25 locations.
“Because the school must meet American standards, the fountains needed to be ADA-compliant,” said Grzegorz Draniczarek, Topserw’s business development manager.
Topserw is well informed of American building standards and requirements, so they included in their plan both high and low units to serve both adults and children and meet ADA requirements, as well.
Draniczarek explained, “In Poland, we do not have ADA regulations as you do in the U.S., and the school, while they knew these standards exist, was not familiar with how to implement them. We educated them on what was required.”
Not only did they educate them on the ADA requirements, but Topserw also completed all the required paperwork, including translating and filling out special certifications so the Murdock bottle fillers could be sold in Poland. Topserw also translated all instructions for the bottle fillers into Polish.
In high-traffic areas, such as outside of the gymnasium and theaters, the bottle fillers include counters to track the number of bottles filled each day.
“From the signing of the contract to the completed installation, the job was done in just three weeks,” said Marta Lachowska, Topserw’s product manager of drinking fountains. “This wasn’t just a simple installation. The existing freestanding units had floor inlet and outlets. The new units required the plumbing be moved to the wall.”
“It was an extremely difficult project, first removing the old devices, re-locating the plumbing, and then installing our new units. You can imagine how time-consuming it was. But our team is very experienced, and we managed to do it in one week,” added Lachowska.
In addition to preparing and installing the units, Topserw added water treatment solutions, sent the water for third-party purity testing, and procured anti-slip mats with the school logo and logos for the filtration units and Topserw.
In addition to the tight timeline, Topserw had other challenges that might seem familiar from your own projects. There was no one point of contact, and Lachowska said it was like having four cooks in the kitchen. It was not unusual to field 7:00 p.m. frantic phone calls from the school’s maintenance department because the water was shut off, and they couldn’t fill the pool.
Topserw was confident in their knowledge and abilities and worked through these disruptions and concerns flawlessly.
A Model for the Value of Safe Drinking Water
Lachowska said that everyone has a reusable water bottle in the American School. There, unlike most Polish schools, drinking tap water is as expected for students and staff as it is here in the U.S.
Draniczarek said that the work they are doing at the American School could apply a new standard in the Polish market.
“We can show that these products are necessary and that it’s essential to have them in schools. Right now, indoor and outdoor drinking fountains are not a common solution in Poland like they are in the U.S., France, and even in the U.K.,” said Draniczarek.
To that end, during the last six years, Topserw has been working with the water supply companies and government to promote the concept that tap water is perfectly safe to drink and a refreshing and healthy alternative to sugary drinks.
Shipping at the Speed of Light
To meet the tight timeline, Topserw relied on their close relationship with Murdock. To speed up shipping and customs, Topserw ordered the battery packs required for the units separately from the bottle fillers themselves and then assembled them in their shop. That alone saved two to three weeks in shipping.
Topserw keeps their warehouse stocked with Murdock parts and fixtures at all times in order to deliver the quick turnaround times and excellent customer service their clients have come to expect. However, in these uncertain times you just never know what someone will need.
“During a pandemic, you cannot predict what people will want, and we don’t have every option in stock in our shop. We made the strategic decision to work closely with Murdock to be able to satisfy short lead times whether the product is in stock or not,” said Lachowska. “Customers don’t want to wait 2–3 months for a product, which is typical when ordering from the U.S. Thanks to that support from and collaboration with Murdock, we are able to be successful.”
That relationship is a huge competitive advantage for both Topserw and Murdock. Because of the flexibility and short lead times, Topserw can win jobs over its competitors. Their excellence in customer service probably has a lot to do with winning those bids, as well.
Lachowska credits International Account Manager Li Bar-Shai and Hortensia Upchurch, general manager at Fabricacion y Manufacturas de Mexico, with a fast turnaround.
“They made miracles happen in just two days,” said Lachowska.
While the American School did not require extensive modifications on the units themselves, Topserw and Murdock are fully equipped to provide customizations for their customers.
Topserw has the engineering experience and knowledge to adapt to customers’ unique needs and deliver a product with minor adjustments or extensive customization depending on the situation.
Murdock Manufacturing’s spirit of innovation makes us eager to take on custom projects, and we are happy to work with a company as knowledgeable and competent as Topserw to design a product that meets the customer’s special requirements.
This was a difficult job due to the tight timeline and the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus. Not only were Topserw crews limited as to the hours they could work in the school, they also had to have their temperatures checked regularly and work in masks at all times—despite the 90-degree Fahrenheit weather conditions.
Despite the challenges, Topserw managed to pull the entire job off on budget and on time. Their hard work paid off in a two-year maintenance contract with the school, and there are plans to install outdoor bottle fillers (M-OBF4 Series or GYM74 Series and a few BF16s) next spring.