December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13
By Reginald Tucker
Nature Flooring isn’t one of the largest players on the market, but it’s certainly looking to become one of the most exciting and dynamic players. The strategy, according to the company, is to continue to build on its growing distribution network while offering innovative products designed to pique retailer interest.
“Our strategy for next year is to try to fully stock all of our SKUs,” said Luxia Hong, director of operations. “We are also bringing new products such as WPC, laminate—which we haven’t carried in the past 10 years—and LVT. We are also working on a 7-inch-wide engineered product, which is trendy right now. It’s a distressed, wire-brushed look.”
Up to this point, Nature Flooring predominantly focused on solid and engineered hardwood offerings. Some of its staple collections include: World of Exotics, which entail exotic species such as Peruvian tigerwood, Brazilian walnut and tigerwood, acacia, Brazilian cherry and teak; the Americana Collection, which spans several varieties of oak—including tobacco, whiskey and caramel, to name a few; and the World of Woods line, which features variations of Pacific mahogany, birch and hickory. The lineup has been expanded to include the WPC collection, which includes “hand-scraped looking” products in several decors.
One new product Nature is particularly excited about is a Peruvian Pecan species available in a 5-inch-wide, hand scraped format. As Hong describes it, “It is very similar to Brazilian pecan, which is dark brown in tone. We are also trying to make a couple of stains for that product so our customers can distinguish them from different products.”
According to Hong, its WPC and laminate flooring products are made in China. With respect to wood, the company operates its own factory in Peru. Down the road, the company plans to bring in some product from Cambodia. “We’re currently working with our distributors to find out what’s trending in their markets to meet their needs,” she said.
That takes care of the product side of the equation. In terms of distribution, Nature Flooring is busy shoring up its coverage of the U.S. market as well. “We are absolutely committed to growing the U.S. market by servicing our distributors; we have 10 distributor partners today and we are in the middle of hiring five more regional sales managers to cover the Midwest and Southeast areas,” Hong explained, adding the sales reps will only be calling on distributors, not retailers direct. “Before we only serviced the distributors on the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic.”
One of Nature Flooring’s distributor partners that saw the potential in the company’s product offerings early was Derr Flooring, based in Willow Grove, Pa. “We brought on the Nature Flooring line in 2008-09, right at the point during the downturn in the economy,” said Rick Holden, chief operating officer. “We’ve had a very good relationship over that time period.”
Derr Flooring positions the Nature Flooring line in what Holden calls the “mid range,” which makes sense given the clientele it serves across its most active end-use markets. “Most of our business with the Nature Flooring line is residential, but there’s some new home construction as well,” he explained. “The product mix that we’re involved with is not really oriented toward commercial at this point, mostly due to the construction of the product. What we sell is mostly solid wood, so it’s not really something that’s designed for slab construction.”
Another key distributor partner in the region is Allstate Flooring Distributors, which services customers in the Mid-Atlantic area via its headquarters in New Jersey. Mike Corsetto, vice president of purchasing and operations, said the Nature Flooring line dovetails nicely with its expansive hard surface offering.
“We’ve been with Nature Flooring since its beginnings,” he said. “They work very hard at making sure they have the right colors and stains for our market.”