When Donald Hackett came into contact with synthetic marble while building skyscrapers in Australia, he had no idea that it would be the beginning of a 40-year legacy.
Surrounded by the green hills of County Tyrone, The Classic Marble Factory provides a great place to work for local people and exports its award-winning products across the UK, Europe and America.
Classic Marble initially gained prominence among bathroom installers in ROI and NI. Each Classic Marble tray is meticulously handcrafted and inspected, creating products that are installed with ease, making it a firm favourite among installers.
The Classic Marble Factory in County Tyrone
Over the years, Donald continued to innovate his designs and manufacturing processes, helping Classic Marble remain relevant as an increasing number of mass-produced shower trays entered the market. In contrast to vacuum-formed acrylic Classic Marble pours its resin compound into moulds. This approach enabled Classic Marble to possess another distinguishing feature – custom-colour shower trays.
Many of 1990’s team members still work at Classic Marble today.
With Classic Marble producing impeccably accurate custom-colour shower trays, Donald’s focus shifted towards a universal challenge for all bathroom installers (aside from crooked trays, of course). Leaks! More specifically, leaks caused by settlement cracks or subsidence.
Time and again, bathrooms in newly constructed structures would begin to leak a few years after the building’s completion. Donald could see that if the shower or bath waterproofing was able to flex and move with the house as it settled, it would stop this kind of leak altogether. Thus, Classi Seal was born.
The Classi stand tours the UK and Ireland.
Classi made a significant impact as soon as it entered the market, with a broader range of sizes as its initial expansion. Within the coming years, Classi Plus (a version of Classi compatible with paint-on waterproof membrane) and Classi Neutral Cure 100% Silicone will be added to the product list. Finally, customers wanted to buy everything they needed in one place, so the Classi Waterproofing Kits were made.
The next bathroom innovation arose from another pressing issue: slips and falls within bathrooms. By this point, Donald’s sons, Christopher and Stephen, had joined the business, working in tandem to create SENSTEC.
SENSTEC started out as an interesting design project. Could you make a shower tray that has top-level anti-slip while still being comfortable to stand on and easy to keep clean? Well, after nearly 5 years of research and development and over 40 prototypes, the Hacketts answered that question – yes, you can!
A collection of samples made while researching and developing SENSTEC.
SENSTEC has gained extensive recognition within the KBB industry (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom), even securing the FSB NI award for innovation in 2022, competing against groundbreaking AI software and other highly innovative inventions.
The core of SENSTEC lies in its patented design. SENSTEC features hundreds of small protrusions that come up from the flat bottom of the tray, breaking the foot’s contact with the floor and providing vast amounts of grip. Each of these has to be precisely shaped and placed to achieve the perfect balance between comfort and safety while avoiding trapping dirt.
These protrusions were nicknamed ‘Dimples,’ a reference back to our manufacturing process and what makes Classic Marble uniquely qualified to create SENSTEC.
Remember the moulds that have been used for crafting the original Classic Marble trays since the 80s? Well, it is Classic Marble’s mastery of the moulding process that enabled us to create SENSTEC. Each mould is meticulously created, with perfectly sculpted dimples that, when filled, would become the grip or ‘Dimples’ on a SENSTEC tray.
A SENSTEC mould on the production line and the tray that comes out of it.
Having weathered the challenges posed by COVID-19 in 2020, Classic Marble and its associated brands continue to grow. The most recent addition is the slate effect trays – Classic M Slate – a driving force propelling Classic Marble into the future.
To celebrate the 40th year of Classic Marble, Christopher Hackett MD, decided to take the whole team Rally Driving. Tools were set aside, answer phones activated, and the team assembled for a morning of enjoyment.
The Classic Marble Team in 2023
Despite the team’s relentless efforts to prevent skids and slips in bathrooms, the same principles can’t be readily applied on the racetrack. Cars slid, tyres squealed, brakes smoked, and cheers rang out. It was a rare occasion where the whole team could be photographed together. This encompasses salespeople from across the UK and Ireland, the office team who work at home and on-site, the factory team who contribute to all the Classic Marble brands, and even a surprise visit from one team member still on maternity leave, celebrating the arrival of their new baby to the world.
Classic Marble would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude to everyone we work with day-to-day – our steadfast suppliers and valued customers. We’d also like to thank the people who install Classi or shower with SENSTEC, the showroom staff advocating for the benefits of SENSTEC on our behalf, and the project managers who insist on Classi’s use in every bathroom project. The broader KBB industry united in camaraderie during awards nights and social media takeovers, commands our respect and gratitude. We also acknowledge all the unsung heroes who contribute to the vibrant tapestry of Classic Marble’s legacy.
Meet David from Beggs and Partners in Belfast. First opened over 60 years ago, in that time, Beggs and Partners have grown to open a total of 7 showrooms in Northern Ireland and an additional 5 in England with more to come.
The displays at Beggs are always kept to the highest standards to ensure that there are always clean, well-made bathrooms to view with the most up-to-date, on-trend fixtures and fittings.
Beggs and Partners have locations in:
Go to meet David from Beggs and Partners in Belfast or find out more about Beggs and Partners HERE.
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When the prestigious 5-star Irish hotel, Dromoland Castle, decided to enhance its guest experience with SENSTEC Anti-slip Shower Trays in 2020, little did they know that it would pave the way for SENSTEC to sell into the USA for the first time.
Focusing on guest safety and comfort, Dromoland Castle sought top-quality shower trays that would provide unparalleled safety measures, ensuring their guests felt secure throughout their stay. With equal importance placed on easy cleanability to address the challenges of maintaining anti-slip surfaces, the hotel aimed to seamlessly integrate these features into their luxurious 5-star en-suites. SENSTEC proved to be the perfect solution, exceeding expectations.
Fast forward a few years, when an American couple, the Nobles, embarked on a well-deserved vacation in Ireland and chose to stay at Dromoland Castle. Their encounter with SENSTEC would change everything. (Visit the Dromoland Castle Hotel website here)
Kim Noble, recounting their experience, said, “SENSTEC left a lasting impression on us, which is saying something during such an exciting vacation. The comfort of the tray while showering was remarkable. The dimples underfoot felt amazing to stand on, and it became evident when I moved around that those dimples were providing remarkable support. Despite the suds and movement, my feet remained securely anchored to the tray. SENSTEC doesn’t just passively ensure safety; it actively reassures you. This discovery truly broadened our perspective on available options.”
Inspired by their delightful experience, the Nobles embarked on a home renovation journey, where SENSTEC became a priority. “Maine, where we reside, has an ageing population, and we embrace the ‘Aging in Place’ concept, designing homes to cater to our needs beyond retirement. SENSTEC ensures a long-lasting, safe showering experience,” added Kim Noble.
Eager to have SENSTEC in their home, the Nobles contacted SENSTEC via Instagram to explore the possibility of shipping a tray to the USA.
“At first, we were uncertain about facilitating the tray delivery, but deeply touched by their story and feedback, we were determined to make it happen. As shower trays are relatively uncommon in the USA, it was a learning experience for all parties involved,” shared Christopher Hackett, SENSTEC’s Managing Director.
Maintaining close communication throughout the process, Kim and Christopher exchanged updates on the handcrafted tray, showcasing SENSTEC’s dedication to their customers.
After overcoming shipping, packaging, and other logistical challenges, SENSTEC successfully dispatched the tray to the US. Enduring two snowstorms, multiple transportation modes including lorries, trains, and boats, the tray finally arrived in Maine, to await installation.
SENSTEC’s journey from an Irish 5-star hotel to the shores of America is a testament to the company’s commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction. Dromoland Castle and the Nobles have proven that SENSTEC’s innovation transcends borders, delivering safety and comfort wherever it finds a home.
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Ian headed over to Bathworld in Essex to see their beautiful new showroom and catch up with Harry since his acquisition of Bathworld in 2022 in this edition of Showroom Spotlight. The team are incredibly knowledgeable about all things bathroom, with some having over 30 years of experience in the industry.
Ian asks about SENSTEC, its role within their product range and what their customers think. They also talk about the new showroom, the experience of the team and all the services they offer.
Want to be the next Showroom Spotlight? Contact your local Sales Representative.
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