Sharp attended the virtual KBIS exhibition in February with its bevy of appliance solutions – and armed and ready to talk them up to attendees. While its pre-show news was centered on the introduction of its first-ever smart built-in convection microwave drawer oven, that was just a single element of its dealer and designer conversations at the show, which included discussion of the company’s Full Kitchen Suite, and of the technology behind its air purifiers, especially germane in this time of COVID.
On the topic of air purification, “the reality is that the coronavirus is here, and could become endemic and will mutate, like another version of the flu, so consumers’ appreciation of home air quality will stay with us for a while,” offers Jim Sanduski, president of Sharp Home Electronics Company of America (SHCA). In fact, he says he expects that the working-from-home trend, as it has taken root and not resulted in productivity falloff, will stick, even beyond the pandemic lifespan. “What it means is that we’ve seen a huge spike in demand for kitchen appliances as well. It’s torrid. And it should result in an elevated level of business for quite some time.”
Sanduski says that Sharp happens to be well positioned to leverage this trend – but also for another reason that transcends the pandemic: the fact that Sharp’s appliances are hybrid, multi-functional devices. For example, he points out, the generous 1.4-cubic-foot interior of the aforementioned convection microwave drawer oven will accommodate most dishes, circumventing the need to “fire up the regular oven – plus it has convection-speed cooking.” And it even features the convenience of a warming drawer. Similarly, the Sharp Gen-2 SuperSteam+ oven offers hot-air convection, steam cooking and superheated steam cooking capabilities, and at 1.1 cubic feet, it is roomy enough for most dishes. “It’s a secondary oven that’s being used as a primary oven,” he says.
And, due to a canny engineering design decision incorporated in Sharp appliances from the outset, these Sharp devices are 120V, and require no special wiring – “they’ll fit in kitchen islands with 120V outlets,” Sanduski notes. “Also, with the SuperSteam, you need only droplets of 485-degree steam to cook food – no special plumbing is needed for the 24-ounce water well.” Its design versatility extends to ADA compliance, making it suitable for an aging-in-place kitchen setup.
“Our form and functionality is evident through unique products that do more than one thing in the kitchen,” adds Peter Weedfald, senior vice president, sales & marketing, Sharp Electronics Marketing Company of America (SEMCA), in encapsulating the design spirit that has driven Sharp’s appliance innovations. He continues, “the good news is that we have refrigerators, dishwashers and induction cooktops as well” – and the company’s success in telling its across-the-board Full Kitchen Suite story has been reflected in impressive dealer uptake numbers for its built-in packages.
Sharp, Sanduski says, is looking forward to following up its successful presence at KBIS in the near future at other venues, when it can once again be “back in person,” presenting Sharp innovations to dealers in the flesh.