It’s funny, but it’s true: We at Kohler are pretty fond of our toilets. And our customers are, too. But never have I met one whose affinity had such an early onset. Meet Dustin Kruse, a 4-year-old from New Berlin, Wisconsin. While other little boys enjoy playing with trains and trucks, Dustin prefers toilets.
His affinity started when he was just 18 months old, and he even potty-trained himself at the age of 2. Dustin isn’t even in kindergarten and he knows more about toilets than I do: where the water enters, how the flushing mechanisms work, what happens (ahem) after we flush, and once clean, where the water eventually ends up: “Lake Michigan!” he shouts.
While supportive of their son’s appreciation for all things toilet, his parents dismissed it as a phase. But when he asked to spend his birthday at The Kohler Design Center, a three-story showcase of Kohler’s kitchen and bath products, they realized it was much more.
With freshly frosted cupcakes in tow, the Kruse family made the 70-mile drive north to the Village of Kohler to celebrate their son’s birthday; he played for hours and learned all about Kohler’s new toilets and bidets. Dustin was especially taken with the dual-flush models— what he refers to as “half-flush, full-flush” toilets.
“He was in heaven,” says mother Michele Kruse. “He even took it upon himself to explain how to use dual-flush toilets to fellow visitors. And as he looked through the stack of product brochures the designers gave him, Dustin made a very important announcement to his parents: “I’m asking Santa for a half-flush full-flush toilet for Christmas!”
Weeks passed, and Dustin was still talking about the toilet he was putting on his Christmas list. “I knew he wasn’t going to let it go—he was continuously talking about it,” Michele says. “That’s what prompted my letter to Kohler.” Recent financial hardship resulting from a medical diagnosis meant Michele and Jim couldn’t make their son’s wish come true. Well, not alone, at least.
Michele’s letter began to make rounds here at Kohler, eventually ending up in the hands of president and chief operating officer David Kohler. The company decided an early Christmas present was in order for one of our most passionate customers—or as an AdAge article calls him, Kohler’s biggest brand advocate.
A Persuade Dual Flush toilet wrapped in a big red ribbon was loaded onto a Kohler truck for a very special delivery. “Dustin had no clue about the surprise, but as soon as he saw the Kohler truck coming down the street, he said, ‘It’s for me!’” Dustin looked on eagerly as his “half-flush, full-flush toilet” was installed.
But the excitement of getting the Christmas gift topping his list was exhausting: “He actually fell asleep in the box while playing in it,” recalls Michele. “There are no words to describe the happiness of seeing your little boy’s dreams come true. We’re so grateful and blessed Kohler made this possible.”
I had the pleasure of spending a day with Dustin and his family during their most recent visit to Kohler to film a testimonial about his love (or, dare we say, obsession) for toilets. What does Dustin want to be when he grows up? A plumber? A toilet designer? A home builder? Nope. But something tells me if he changes his mind, he’d have no problem landing a job in the plumbing industry.