May 26/June 2, 2014; Volume 27/Number 28
By Ken Ryan
Along the way Wellmade has earned the respect of distributors, contractors and independent flooring dealers for the quality control of its manufacturing process—from sourcing the finest raw material to precision milling, finishing, packaging and final delivery. Case in point: when raw material enters the factory, an inspector uses a moisture meter to ensure the raw material has arrived with the proper moisture content prior to actual kiln drying. Later in the process, a technician peers through a profile instrument that projects the actual Uniclic profile onto a screen to check that tolerances are calibrated to spec. Then, workers on the finishing line monitor planks for any obvious imperfections, including color shading and surface blemishes.
Wellmade’s belief is that attention to every manufacturing detail results in flooring that is easy to install and guaranteed to perform under the most demanding applications. And this quality control process has not gone unnoticed by Wellmade customers.
“The quality of product that Wellmade provides is such that I have never had a claim on its products,” said Matt Bechtold, vice president at Contract Furnishings Mart, Tigard, Ore., which carries Wellmade bamboo, LVT and some hardwood products. “Other companies’ bamboos have had major problems with extreme expansion and contraction in floating installations, but I have never had issues with Wellmade.”
An added advantage for Contract Furnishings Mart is that Wellmade is locally operated in Wilsonville, Ore.—five miles from Tigard—so its customers can go down to the warehouse and pick up material the same day if needed, Bechtold said.
Some customers appreciate the fact they can make a nice profit margin on Wellmade products, while others focus on the floors’ reliability.
“The look of the product and the fact our installers love it has made the difference,” said James Ivanditti, owner of Wakefield Flooring, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based flooring dealer. “We have not had any issues with Wellmade. We have carried its complete bamboo lines for more than two years; we can make a good profit on the products, and at the end of the day our customers are satisfied.”
Ivanditti said the urethane finish on Wellmade’s bamboo stands up better than other finishes. “There is a misconception that strand woven bamboo does not damage because it is so hard,” he explained. “But it can damage as the finish breaks down over time, which can lead to scratches. That has not been the case with the Wellmade product.”
Carl Hall, owner and president of Echo Interiors, an East Setauket, N.Y.-based commercial flooring contractor, has found Wellmade’s strand woven bamboo is more dimensionally stable than most other wood products. “These days wood companies are introducing so many new products so fast, and not all of them are dimensionally stable when they come out of the box. That has not been the situation with Wellmade.”
Known primarily for its bamboo offerings (traditional, solid or engineered strand woven), Wellmade is expanding its presence in the LVT and laminate categories, part of a strategy to expand and diversify its offerings and customer base beyond the sales channels already in place. The company hopes the category extensions will attract additional larger dealers.
“[The product expansions] are an obvious fit for us because we already have the sourcing connections, logistics and brand recognition in place to deliver premium products to our existing and prospective customers,” said Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing. The company is currently offering full collections of premium 4mm LVT with Uniclic, as well as a 2mm glue down product. On the laminate front, it is offering AC3-rated 8mm and 12mm collections with general embossed in register and other embossed visuals. Finishes range from piano gloss to standard matte.
Wellmade entered the flooring industry more than a decade ago with traditional horizontal and vertical bamboo flooring. Later, the company entered the solid strand market. In response to market demand, Wellmade introduced engineered strand products designed to perform in all moisture conditions and sources Moso bamboo because of its density and stability. The floors use low-VOC resins and comply with the European E1 Standard for formaldehyde emissions.
Wellmade markets both tongue-and-groove and Uniclic floating profiles, and its commercially rated HardMax finish includes 13 coats of UV-cured aluminum oxide, almost twice the industry norm. The company’s bamboo floors come in a variety of colors and textures, from natural and carbonized to walnut and mahogany in smooth, hand scraped and distressed looks.
The manufacturer will continue to push R&D and product diversification to grow its business. In bamboo, its recent introduction of the Old Growth Series features reclaimed hardwood visuals applied directly to a bamboo core. And its Clear-Tec print technology is intended to provide hardwood realism. Wellmade is also introducing a full collection of bamboo parquet tiles designed to modularly integrate with its engineered strand collection.