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Latest bamboo, cork intros stir visual interest

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Touting qualities such as durability, comfort underfoot and water resistance, cork and bamboo products provide the industry with eco-friendly flooring suitable for both residential and commercial applications.

Following is an overview of some of the newest cork and bamboo innovations that promise to captivate consumers not only with updated visuals, but also with reasonable price points.

Bamboo Hardwoods

Bamboo Hardwoods’ new Symphony line features a hybrid of rigid core with a natural strand woven bamboo wear layer. The line combines the natural beauty of authentic bamboo floors with a waterproof rigid core allowing for installations in even the most undesirable locations.

Symphony is available in 72 x 51⁄8 x 9⁄32 planks and features a four-sided Uniclic locking system. Its 1.2mm strand woven bamboo veneer is wire brushed and stained. Symphony will be available in June in two colors: anise and currant.

Torlys

CorkWood brings together the look of wood, the durability of laminate and the comfort of cork. It comes in two collections: CorkWood Designer, which features 6-foot planks in nine colors, and CorkWood Elite, available in planks spanning nearly 4-feet long and five colors. CorkWood is engineered with a HDF smart core for dent resistance and a 3mm (Designer) or 2.5mm (Elite) thick top layer of compressed cork. It also includes the Torlys CorkPlus attached underlayment for added warmth and sound insulation.


WE Cork

WE Cork’s Corkoleum is a 3mm rolled cork flooring with a rubber and cork base and a cork veneer. Ideal for glue-down applications, Corkoleum is a very low, thin product. Made up of mainly cork, the flooring is marketed as being quiet, comfortable, warm and water resistant. Corkoleum is ideal for wet areas in both residential and commercial settings.

Also from WE Cork is a line of wall panels available for both residential and commercial applications. Available in two different visuals—brick, which comes in three different colors, and bark—WE Cork’s line of wall panels can be used for decorative purposes as well as a sound insulator.

Wellmade

Wellmade unveils a variety of new bamboo looks as part of its Opti-Wood flooring collection. Opti-Wood couples the performance virtues of rigid core flooring technology with real bamboo or hardwood wear layer veneers. The product features Wellmade’s Hydri-HDPC technology, a moisture protection system that seals out topical moisture and boasts a 100% waterproof HDPC core.

Wellmade’s new bamboo flooring is just over 5 inches wide, 48-plus inches long and 8.5mm thick, and features the Uniclic locking system. Colors range from traditional carbonized to multi-color and character-driven glazing options.

Cali Bamboo

Cali Bamboo has launched GeoWood, an engineered hardwood floor combining real timber layered over GeoCore—Cali’s stabilizing limestone composite foundation. The design layer atop each GeoWood plank is up to 1.2mm thick and features sustainably farmed bamboo and lumber from Lacey Act-compliant managed forests.

Made with AquaDefy technology, GeoWood boasts proven moisture protection, making it ideal for bathrooms, kitchens and below-grade spaces such as basements. Shielded by a 10-coat scratch resistant finish, GeoWood is ideal for spaces with heavy traffic, large dogs and the wear and tear of everyday life.

USFloors

USFloors’ current Cork Canvas collection is a digitally enhanced cork floor that features travertine decors. Digitally enhanced cork floors provide the beauty, depth and texture consumers expect in a natural stone or hardwood floor while maintaining the advantages of cork.

This flooring uses digital print technology to capture the colors, nuances, grains and textures of real stone and hardwood. These visuals are printed directly on a cork top layer, which is applied to an HDF core. A durable, embossed hot coat finish is applied to the cork top layer, while additional cork is added as an attached underlayment.

Wicanders

Wicanders Cork GO is a budget-friendly floating floor made with the company’s cork double layer. The collection comes in 10 cork visuals and contains all the signature Corktech benefits found in Wicanders’ products. Cork GO acts as a noise buffer between the floor and the rooms underneath and reduces walking sound up to 53%. The floor also acts as natural thermal insulation.

Cork GO provides a unique comfort in movement, even when walking barefoot. It also has a longer life span due to its elasticity, compressibility and ability to absorb high shocks

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Executive interview: Jackson looks to take Cali Bamboo to the next level

Unique omni-channel approach to the market will drive growth

January 8/15, 2018, Volume 33, Issue 15

 

Doug Jackson spent more than 20 years in high-level positions at Shaw Industries and its subsidiary, Tuftex. After departing Shaw in mid-2017, Jackson accepted a position at Cali Bamboo, a San Diego-based company that is about as much the polar opposite of Shaw in every sense of the word—size, culture and product mix—just to start. Jackson sat down with FCNews publisher Steven Feldman to discuss the decision to join Cali Bamboo and what lies ahead for the company.

Cali Bamboo takes an omni-channel approach with its go-to-market strategy. Explain that.
We have the unique ability to sell to the consumer direct, sell to the trade, sell to dealers and sell to big box stores like Lowe’s. That’s because we have an MSRP that is legitimate. We want to become more essential to dealers. We’re not looking to sell to every dealer—just the right ones who get our approach to market.

Can a company do this successfully?
Absolutely. The best way to visualize this omni-channel approach is to think of Apple and iPhone sales. If you want to buy an iPhone you can buy direct from Apple, you can drop by Best Buy, you can buy from AT&T or you can buy from a store online. The price is the same; it’s just a matter of what level of service you want, or who you are comfortable buying from. Do you want to buy it from AT&T and have them program all your stuff? Do you want to buy it online and have it delivered to your doorstep? Or do you want to go to Best Buy because they have some kind of warranty or different level of service?

Cali operates the same way. You may want to buy through a dealer because of their expertise and service. Or maybe you have a relationship with the pro at Lowe’s who has been helping you design part of your kitchen. The price is the same at Lowe’s as the specialty dealer. But maybe you are a do-it-yourselfer and saw us online and want to buy from us direct. We’ll put it on your doorstep anywhere in the continental United States. Same price. It’s a very unique approach to flooring.

When do you send the customer to a big box store, when do you send her to a specialty retailer and when do you sell her direct?
The customer gives us those signals. We have 57 people on our phone bank here who are talking to customers. They prequalify that customer, and she will pretty much tell us what she wants. We have an algorithm that allows us to protect dealers’ ZIP codes. If someone calls from XYZ ZIP code we immediately know whether that lead is going to that dealer. All we’re doing is finding out the project, prequalifying, maybe sending samples, but ultimately that consumer is going to the dealer. So depending on the level of our relationship with a given dealer in any area we can send all or some customers to him.

So you won’t compete with any one of your dealers?
No, we’re working in tandem with them. We look at ourselves as an ingredient brand of dealers and the dealers as an ingredient brand to us. Many of our competitors talk about giving their dealers leads. We give our dealers consumers. When people call us and decide they want to have reliable service or installation at the dealer level, we refer those customers to our dealers. They’re not leads, they’re customers. They want to buy, and we just said, “Sounds like the best place to buy might be at XYZ Flooring.” That’s a completely different approach to how much of the competition addresses leads. We talk to consumers and go through their project, send them samples with quotes and then we determine the best situation for them to buy.

How does the retailer make money with Cali Bamboo? Why should a retailer have a Cali Bamboo rack in his store?
Retailers make better margins with Cali Bamboo than with other products they sell because we are very stringent with our MSRP. Then we’re giving them space below that MSRP to make a margin. So we hold them accountable to sell at MSRP just like we hold Lowe’s accountable and we hold ourselves accountable. We’ve left room for the dealer to make money and, of course, pick up labor and any add-ons they might be able to sell.

We also have very satisfied customers. Our net promoter score hovers around where you would see Nordstrom and Starbucks—a level where you would never think a flooring company would be. We’re also able to do things like ship right to the customer’s site—things like that solve problems for dealers.

What do you feel differentiates you from your competitors?
Beyond the omni-channel approach and lead generation, our strength is our relationship with the consumer. We spend a lot of time focusing on customer wants and needs. That relationship allows us to get in and out of products quickly. One of the founders likes to say we run this company like a science project. We test everything, we’re agile and we don’t have to commit to things. We don’t have to make a product introduction with all the displays and go to market. We commit to something online, gauge our relationship with the consumer and then expand upon it. That relationship allows us to listen first and then parlay that into our relationship with our dealers. So we’re not running the science experiment with any risk to them.

In addition to that, we’re in a whole range of building materials, not just flooring. Our composite decking is extremely popular, and more and more dealers are interested in carrying it as an outdoor flooring option.

You sell bamboo, you sell vinyl and you are getting into the rigid core arena. Tell me a little about GeoWood, your new rigid core product.
GeoWood is a great example of Cali’s ability to innovate and introduce entirely new products to market. We take a backing of what’s called GeoCore, made of a rigid limestone composite, and layer real hardwood over that. It gives you the best of both worlds—a real wood floor that installs in a few hours, is highly water resistant and isn’t as temperamental as solid planks. Those hardwoods will include oak, hickory, maple and bamboo—all from sustainably managed sources.

We will be selling direct to the consumer in the first quarter. Then we’ll go through the rest of our channels of distribution after testing customer interest. We talked about not putting a bunch of displays in people’s stores and claiming things. We have the opportunity to sell directly to the consumer and get feedback, make sure we know what’s working and do our science project, if you will. And once we’ve fine-tuned the selection, we’ll expand it through distribution.

So having multiple products, do you feel the name Cali Bamboo works against you? Are there plans to do anything with that name to reflect the breadth of your portfolio?
Today we have bamboo, engineered, eucalyptus, cork, WPC and the GeoWood rigid core product. We also have some product development in other species and some other new innovation in 2018.

Cali Bamboo has a lot of brand recognition in many places. So I think the key is how we build upon it. Cali Bamboo will always be in the marketplace, but it will be a sub brand under a “Cali” portfolio of brands under which we have our Cali Vinyl, Cali Decking, Cali Fencing and Cali Bamboo.

Goals and objectives for 2018?
We’re very excited about the launch of GeoWood. We’re doing really well with the direct-to-consumer relationship and growing 60% to 70% year over year. So now we have a big focus on our dealer business and finding those select dealers. We’ll be exhibiting at the NFA’s specialty vendor showcase the day before Surfaces.

As a company our track record shows we’ve doubled every two and a half years. So if we stay at that pace it should quadruple in five years.

What attracted you to this company?
It’s funny. I really didn’t want to work for a bamboo company. But I walked in the door and was amazed by the culture. The 20 dogs greeting you, the people greeting you. People in comfortable California attire. And it became very clear to me they had something different going on here. I saw an opportunity for a company that was no longer a startup, that was doing good business, but maybe we could take advantage of the culture they had and put some professionalism into it. It’s a fine line between messing with what works and just cleaning up some edges. This company has only scratched the surface of where it can go. And you realize that when you walk in the building. You realize it’s not about some stuffy rules you follow because you think you’re supposed to. It’s about good people working hard, the right products and the right people doing the right things.

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Wood: Mythbusters set the record straight on bamboo

October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9

By Reginald Tucker

 

When it comes to selling bamboo, a big draw is the category’s well-known environmental, aesthetic and performance attributes. But achieving consistent success in retailing the product also requires educating the consumer or end user about the product’s attributes, advantages and limitations.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.13.19 AMFCNews recently rounded up several bamboo experts—including David Keegan, president and CEO, Bamboo Hardwoods; Philippe Erramuzpe, COO of USFloors; and Laura Nieto, communications and marketing specialist for Cali Bamboo—to get their advice on dispelling popular myths and misperceptions about the category.

1. All bamboo is the same.
Keegan:
Not all bamboo is manufactured with the same high-quality standards that veteran companies like ours insist on. Secondly, bamboo is a natural material just like oak, hickory, etc. Not every board will be identical in tone. A consumer who desires homogenous, zero-tone-variation flooring should be steered toward carpet, tile, laminate or WPC. With any natural material like wood and bamboo part of the beauty is the natural tone variation and infinite uniqueness of every plank. Like any hardwood, a good installer will rack out the wood from several boxes at once to create the best aesthetic result. Enjoy the beauty of natural bamboo produced by reputable, quality companies.

Nieto: When you think of bamboo floors, chances are the image in your head is of light-colored planks with uniformly cut strips and visible nodes. But that’s the bamboo of yesteryear. With Cali Bamboo’s fossilized process, flooring is not only much stronger but it’s also able to take on a huge variety of styles. Planks come in every color from intensely dark ebony browns to rich coffees and even grays and whites. Planks can also be distressed using hand-scraping, antiquing and French bleeds to give them a more weathered, rustic look. With the variety of looks available in bamboo flooring today, it’s difficult to determine whether you’re looking at bamboo or traditional hardwood.

2. Bamboo is not stable.
Erramuzpe:
While many manufacturers have been taking shortcuts in the manufacturing process—mainly by reducing the density and therefore the amount of bamboo used to produce a beam, or by using inferior adhesives or reducing the immersion time in the adhesive just to save money—the majority of these factories are out of business today. Bamboo flooring expands and contracts, but no more than any other wood floor when manufactured properly.

Nieto: This may have been a valid concern years ago—or even today if you go with the wrong manufacturer—but the production process has now been perfected to the point that, in the case of Cali Bamboo’s fossilized flooring, these are the world’s hardest floors. According to the Janka hardness test, Cali Bamboo scores upwards of 5000—well above Brazilian ipe and four times harder than oak.

The bamboo flooring of yesterday was made by slicing poles into uniform strips which were then boiled, dried, coated in adhesive and pressed together in horizontal or vertical rows. The resulting planks bore a distinct bamboo look but were not much harder than oak. Today, strand bamboo flooring presents a much harder product by shredding the bamboo into fibers which are then pressed into planks. The Cali Bamboo fossilized process takes this one step further by shredding the raw material even finer and compressing 30% more into blocks using increased pressure. The result is a much harder floor that is better protected against dents and damage.

3. Bamboo scratches too easily.
Erramupze:
Some bamboo flooring scratches easily, but that’s due to manufacturers using inferior finishes to sell at a low price. There’s another misperception that a scratch on a bamboo floor leaves a white mark, when in fact there might be a flaw in the coating system.

Nieto: A bamboo floor’s ability to resist scratches depends on the quality of the manufacturer’s finish. Not all bamboo flooring is created equal, and many producers cut costs by opting for a thinner or weaker top wear layer. This makes the flooring susceptible to scratching from high heels, furniture and pet claws. Cali Bamboo avoids this by using a 10-coat aluminum oxide sealing system on all solid bamboo flooring, and 13 coats on the Engineered bamboo flooring line.

If two floors appear similar, but one is significantly cheaper, there may have been corners cut that you can’t see—often affecting the finish and the adhesives used to bind the bamboo fibers. The flooring may look fine now, but after years of use you can bet it will show its age and require far more upkeep. A good way to ensure a floor will hold up under everyday wear and tear is to use a key or other hard tool to scratch test a variety of samples from several different companies.

4. Bamboo can’t be installed in extreme climates.
Nieto:
Homeowners who experience harsh seasons, very dry climates or high humidity are often hesitant to install bamboo, thinking it will warp or buckle. However, thousands of Cali Bamboo floors have been installed successfully everywhere from Florida and Hawaii to Arizona and Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 10.13.31 AMWith bamboo—like all hardwood flooring products—it’s all about controlling a space’s temperature and relative humidity. This is especially important during acclimation, when the environment should be set to typical ambient living conditions. Flooring should acclimate until its moisture content reaches an equilibrium with the home’s environment and no longer increases or decreases. In most cases, if a space can maintain 40%-60% humidity indoors, then bamboo flooring will work.

5. There are high claims rates with bamboo.
Keegan:
Less than half of 1% of our sales have claims, and most of those turn out to be installation or maintenance errors. When manufactured properly and installed following manufacturing or NWFA guidelines, bamboo performs extremely well both in terms of dimensional stability, finish and durability.

When bamboo was first becoming popular, everybody opened a factory in China as the Chinese government was giving out capital loans like candy on Halloween. The result was that for a period of time, the industry was flooded with poor-quality materials made by factories that didn’t have a clue. We have always vetted our sources extremely carefully. Nowadays most of those fly-by-night factories have gone out of business leaving a core of quality producers. There are some long-standing reputable manufacturers like ourselves that have always been producing fantastic high-quality bamboo flooring. Bamboo is an amazing quality resource.

6. Bamboo harvesting depletes the primary food source forpandas.
Keegan:
The bamboo we harvest comes from the temperate zones of China, not Sichuan and Shaanxi where the pandas are.   Furthermore, the bamboo flooring industry preserves bamboo forests, not eliminates them. A sea of mountains covered by indigenous bamboo groves survive and thrive all across Zhejiang and other regions of China most popular for bamboo production. If there was no industry revolving around this resource they would likely be removed.

But in bamboo regions, skies are blue and air is clean. Bamboo is never clear-cut. Every year new shoots reach their full height in one growth season of several months. When the culm is 5 years old, they are harvested. This means that the harvesting practice pulls out one of every five poles leaving the natural groves flush with leafy bamboo culms and an incredible rhizome system interconnected underground. It is truly a [prolific] plant in that it turns sunlight into biomass more efficiently than any other plant, it requires no pesticides to maintain. Plus, it is never clear-cut, it is evergreen and therefore constantly producing oxygen while sequestering carbon. It is a sustainable material that produces some of the most durable and beautiful hardwood floors available today.

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Bamboo, cork intros offer flair for the dramatic

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

As sub-segments of the hardwood flooring category, cork and bamboo are heralded for their eco-friendly attributes. Beyond their notable green characteristics, however, new cork and bamboo products are also renowned for their stunning visuals, durability, comfort underfoot and water-resistant properties.

Following is an overview of some of the latest products cork and bamboo suppliers have to offer.

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.16 AMBamboo Hardwoods
Bamboo Hardwoods’ Manor Clove flooring (pictured) features engineered strand woven bamboo with a multi-ply core. Strand woven bamboo ranks over 3000 on the Janka Hardness Scale and is a great option for both residential and commercial installations. Each plank of Manor Clove has a unique appearance due to its handscraping. The product is FloorScore certified.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.21 AMCali Bamboo (cork)
Cali Bamboo offers GreenClaimed cork flooring, which is comforting to the body and warm to the touch underfoot. Its visuals range from Shoreline (natural) to products made to resemble more natural wood looks (Silverwood and Driftwood). Pictured is Sandalwood, an engineered cork. A total of eight colors are available.

 

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.26 AMCali Bamboo (bamboo)
Cali Bamboo offers a complete line of solid and engineered bamboo offerings. Cali Bamboo is ultra-low VOC with no added urea formaldehyde and features the company’s proprietary Fossilized manufacturing process that boasts twice the density of typical hardwood flooring products. Twenty colors encompassing unfinished, distressed natural, to cognac and vintage java (pictured) are available.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.32 AMUSFloors (bamboo)
Muse Strand (pictured) from USFloors is the ideal strand bamboo floor for homes located in a wide range of climates. Muse Strand’s cutting-edge design features distressed and chiseled surfaces, hand sculpted scraping and wire-brushed enhanced grains. Fashion-forward stains and washes evoke a sense of artistry and inspiration. These bamboo floors are Greenguard Gold-certified for indoor air quality.

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.38 AMUSFloors (cork)
Natural Cork (pictured) floors from USFloors are made from the bark of the Portuguese cork oak. No trees are cut down to harvest the bark and cork trees produce new cork for re-harvest every nine years making cork a sustainable, environmentally friendly and rapidly renewable resource. Cork floors are quiet, warm and comfortable underfoot, durable and resilient. Natural Cork floors naturally resist mold and mildew, fire and pests.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.46 AMWE Cork
Sunset Acacia, from the Serenity collection of digital print on cork, provides comfort, thermal and sound insulation from the sustainable cork base. This cork base is then cloaked with wood or stone visuals that extend the design options beyond the regular cork visuals in the Serenity collection stocking line. It is finished using a hot coat finish with an AC rating that the company said exceeds LVT in wearability.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.51 AM

Wellmade
Wellmade’s Strata composite bamboo plank couples the performance features of rigid core HDPC (high-density plastic composite) technology with the natural warmth and character of eco-friendly bamboo. Featuring a solid strand bamboo top layer, Strata (pictured) bamboo outperforms traditional engineered flooring while remaining stable and extremely water resistant in the most demanding environments. Quality performance features include HDPC rigid core, HardMax nano finish and Uniclic floating installation system.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 10.54.58 AMWicanders
Wicanders’ Hydrocork offers a low thickness floating solution with the benefits of floors with Corktech, a technology that helped create the innovative core board made of composite cork. Hydrocork is water resistant and stable while maintaining the resilient properties and comfort rendered by cork. Wicanders’ Hydrocork comes in 10 wood look visuals, including Arcadian Rye Pine (pictured).

 

 

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Spring introductions unseen at Surfaces

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

Surfaces served as the staging area for the bulk of new flooring introductions for 2017. However, there were many other noteworthy introductions of the spring that were not shown at the big show.

Following are some of the spring introductions unseen at Surfaces.

American OEM
The company introduced 10 SKUs in its Covelo Canyon collection and eight offerings in Casa Bonita through Hemisphere Hardwood, an importer out of Paraguay. Inspired by the natural beauty of California wine country, the refreshing looks of Covelo Canyon pioneer a new design style—“modern rustic”—by combining fashion-forward styling with hand-crafted textures and natural character. The combination of modern colorways, a low-gloss finish and tailored edges create a sophisticated floor made from premium, FSC-certified materials for wood that’s both sustainable and appealing to the consumer.

Anderson
Mystique from Anderson is a distinguished-looking painted maple hardwood floor that incorporates a caulk paint visual with contrasting high and low lights to create an outstanding visual movement. In addition, the aesthetic charm and sophistication of the extra-long 96-inch planks create a dramatic visual impact. The Mystique line is a 5 x ½-inch ply core engineered maple available in five colors: Shadow, Starlight, Fog, Nightfall and Eclipse.

Mirage
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.48.07 AMMirage expanded its product lineup to meet ever-more-stringent quality and design requirements. Its new board lengths—up to 82 inches—make rooms appear bigger due to the fact fewer boards are needed. Another plus: Fewer joints are visible, yielding a more even look. The new lengths represent an average increase of 25% on Mirage’s engineered products in 5- and 6½-inch widths.

Gelato and Peppermint, two new floors with notes of gray, were added to the Sweet Memories collection. Gelato is a beige-gray that imparts a distinctive, luxurious look ideal for minimalist modern décors. Peppermint is a pure ash gray that brings a touch of minerality. Gelato and Peppermint are offered in Maple in 31⁄4 and 41⁄4 widths, in engineered in 5, 6½ and 73⁄4 widths and in lock technology in a 45⁄16 wide format.

Mullican
Devonshire is one of Mullican’s newest engineered products. This 3⁄8-inch-thick, 5-inch-wide product is available in seven selections of hickory and oak. Made in the U.S. and offered in random lengths up to 4 feet, Devonshire offers a classic hardwood flooring look that has been enriched with a lightly wire-brushed matte finish. The product is protected by the company’s Alpha A’Lumina Real World Finish.

Wexford, a second new offering, comes in a 5-inch width and random lengths up to 7 feet. Wexford is a European-inspired line that combines three traditional North American sawing techniques to create a classic European look. This collection features the company’s patented Aqua Shield system.

Shaw
Shaw Floors has introduced a bevy of products across all segments.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.48.12 AMThe company called its 2017 tile collection the most significant in company history. Among the introductions are larger 18 x 36 sizes that improve the speed of installation and enhance the visual appearance with fewer grout lines. New introductions include contemporary visuals, such as concrete, metallic and other cutting-edge looks, as well as decorative accents.

Other introductions include Stellar, a porcelain tile reflecting a fusion of ancient bedrock and modern stained concrete available in large-scale options. Tessuto is a porcelain style made in the U.S. that features the warmth and elegance of an aged fabric enriched by a technology called clarity digital imaging. Tessuto is available in a modern five-color palette and full range of trim pieces. In Hacienda, Shaw used its clarity digital imaging to emulate one of Anderson Hardwood’s most distinctive wood styles. This glazed porcelain plank, with special staining and hand-scraping techniques, is made in the U.S. with 40% recycled content.

In carpet, TruAccents is a collection of Anso nylon and ClearTouch Platinum styles on a single display. The 2017 collection includes friezes, loops, LCLs and tonals in both fiber systems for an exceptional range of styles and price points. The TruAccents display is a compact, rotating unit allowing for easy placement on the showroom floor. It comprises four quadrants—two with ClearTouch Platinum styles and two with Anso nylon products.

Epic Plus Extreme Nature hardwood is available in a 91⁄4 x 82½ wide x ½-inch thick format. In its Extreme Nature collection, Shaw offers three species in four textures including Landmark Maple (three colors) that emulates the unique complexity of an authentic timeworn surface.

Shaw Floors’ newest laminate collection, Repel, has been specially designed to take laminate to the next level in water-resistance technology. Repel provides ample time to clean spills and offers the added scratch, stain and fade-resistance benefits of laminate.

In resilient, Floorté now comes with an antimicrobial attached pad to provide a healthy dose of noise reduction in the following styles: Classico Plus, Premio Plus, Alto Mix Plus. Featuring the latest technology in resilient flooring, Shaw introduced Alto HD in four high-definition visuals and six new styles in the Alto Mix line including multiple lengths and widths.

Tuftex
Tuftex Stainmaster PetProtect, Tuftex Signature and Tuftex Classics styles are new for 2017. Tuftex Stainmaster PetProtect products resist soil accumulation and prevent the absorption of difficult pet stains. These styles are constructed of SuperiaSD nylon fiber, which is resistant to fading from aggressive cleaning or exposure to light. Tuftex’s Signature collection draws on West Coast inspiration with a range of styles—from high-end textures and elegant patterns to exotic cables and shags. Its sophisticated color palette is woven through key collections including Naturals, Impressions and Architecturals. Classics offers retailers tried-and-true nylon products available branded or unbranded.

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Cali Bamboo looks to raise the bar

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 12.15.38 PMSan Diego-based Cali Bamboo is not content just being regarded as a quality-minded, eco-conscious supplier of green building products—although those are clearly desirable attributes. Ultimately, the company wants to be thought of as the experts in the bamboo category and the go-to source for these and other sustainable, renewable flooring products.

“We grew up as a bamboo company, which is different from, say, a flooring company that makes a couple of bamboo flooring products or imports them or resells them,” said vice president of business development Tanner Haigwood, who, along with his business partner, Jeff Goldberg, president and CEO, co-founded the company in 2004. “Our main goal is to continuously improve and expand on what we’re doing in in terms of the styles and breadth of products and colors we offer.”

If past performance is an indicator, then Cali Bamboo is well on its way to achieving those goals. While its specialty remains bamboo, the company has evolved over time to provide a wide range of products such as eucalyptus, vinyl flooring, fencing, composite decking, plywood, cork wall tiles, poles and paneling, to name a few. “Eucalyptus—one of the fastest growing trees available—has been a very exciting product for us,” Haigwood said. “It offers great styles and it also fits within our mission of creating high-quality, sustainable building products and floors. Also, it’s not a solid plank like you see with other hardwoods such as oak; it actually goes through a very similar strand-woven process as bamboo. It’s very durable.”

Cali Bamboo has had similar success with cork, another product known for its renewable qualities. “Cork is an amazing solution,” Haigwood said. “It’s one of the softest products you can find; it’s very comforting to the body and warm to the touch underfoot.”

More recently the company launched Cali Vinyl, a resilient flooring line it spent two and a half years researching. “We had a specific idea in mind in terms of how the product should be manufactured, and we wanted to be sure it followed suit in terms of the products we offer,” Haigwood explained.

But it’s Cali Bamboo’s long association and track record with its namesake product that has generated the most buzz. “We started with bamboo 12 years ago and it is by and large still the core of our business today,” Haigwood said. “We are the industry experts in the field.”

Clients who have specified or installed the product tend to agree. Greg Maddox, president of Great American Flooring, Ashland, Ky., is one of them. In addition to the bamboo, he likes the distressed mocha, antique java and eucalyptus offerings. He’s seeing high usage in upscale residential applications. “Our installers love it, our customers love it and we love it. We haven’t had to replace a board in years.”

Greg Savage, owner and CEO of The Plano Floor Source, Texas, shared a similarly positive experience. “Cali Bamboo is the best thing to happen under an aluminum oxide finish—ever. Most prefinished solids can’t hold a candle to these products. And most of these products don’t even look like bamboo as we know it.”

One reason why Cali Bamboo’s products are such a hit with customers, according to Haigwood, is the fact that feedback from those customers is heavily weighted whenever the company is considering product line expansions. It’s an integral part of the new product introduction process. “Being a true omni-channel company, we’re on the phone with all our customers directly, so we’re able to have a base of flooring dealers we use as consulting partners. We rely on them to give us updated trends. We also have a base of architects and homeowners that we rely on as well.”

Another reason for its success is the laser focus on continuous improvement, which is built into the company’s culture. More importantly, Cali Bamboo holds its suppliers to the same high standards. “We have our own manufacturing partners and we’re heavily invested in ensuring quality control,” Haigwood said. “We have a full team on the ground, not only in China but also Portugal. Along with each shipment we receive a 17-page quality control report that we check off on in addition to our quality-control partners. And in some circumstances our end users will have the opportunity to check off on the report.”

This stringent approach to quality control is especially critical when it comes to products like bamboo, which requires special handling, care and attention during the production process. As Haigwood explains: “We’ve instituted a three-party check system to ensure things like moisture content—which is very important in bamboo—is right. So we’re measuring and controlling that moisture before it gets loaded on a shipment. We have what we believe is a very robust system in place and is world class.”

Cali Bamboo also excels when it comes to service and logistics. According to Haigwood, the company boasts a 99% fulfillment rate, which means 99% of the time it ships next-day from the time of order. With three distribution facilities—one in Los Angeles, another in the Northeast and one in the Southeast—Cali Bamboo is able to service clients nationwide within two to three days—max.

It’s a benefit that’s not overlooked by its customers. As The Plano Floor Source’s Savage stated: “Cali Bamboo company has been a pleasure to work with and has an excellent, well-trained staff for support.”

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Wood: Proven strategies for selling bamboo at the retail level

October 10/17, 2016: Volume 31, Number 9

By Reginald Tucker

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-11-17-27-amBamboo flooring might be considered by some as an unusual, exotic product. However, there’s really no mystery in how to market and position the product for success.

First and foremost, retailers need to partner with suppliers that have a good track record and solid reputation manufacturing the product. “There used to be a time when people were bashing the category due to bad experiences with companies that didn’t know how to manufacturer the product,” said David Keegan, president and CEO, Bamboo Hardwoods. “There were also many retailers that didn’t experience any problems. But I think we’ve moved on and the good manufacturers are left. Overall, the companies that have survived are the ones making good product. So much depends on where you buy it and how it’s made.”

If Keegan had his way, he would like to redirect the conversation from, ‘Hey, let’s give bamboo a try; it’s not so bad,’ to ‘It’s time to talk about the incredible resource bamboo flooring represents.’ “That’s the story and it needs to be told again. With bamboo you get all this performance, great style and design. Plus, this plant is the most efficient plant in the world that basically turns sunlight into biomass, sequestering carbon and producing oxygen 365 days a year, and it creates an amazing story.”

Others agree that it’s time to turn the page from the period when claims dominated the discussion. “Years ago bamboo had a bad reputation among some consumers, because when it first came out there were some issues with product quality among some manufacturers,” said Vicki Jewell, customer relationship manager for Dasso, which markets the EcoTimber line. “There were a lot of problems with people buying the floor to find that it wasn’t holding up. But we’ve been doing it for years, and the company that makes our bamboo uses a method that’s been tried and true. The important thing for retailers to know is all bamboo is not created equal.”

Phillippe Erramuzpe, COO of USFloors, attests to the strides manufacturers have made in recent years. The turnaround, he said, came about as a result of companies paying closer attention to the details. “Bamboo over the past few years has had a bad reputation due to an onslaught of claims due to issues with solid strand bamboo which—if not manufactured properly—will not perform well,” he explained. “You have to be very careful where you source your strand woven bamboo. In addition to that, you have to make sure you have the proper density and manufacturing method because if you don’t have that the product can shrink.”

Today the major bamboo manufacturers and suppliers are putting more emphasis on re-engineering the product by developing new formats. USFloors is one of those companies. “We have been working very closely with our manufacturer to see what can be done to improve the product,” Erramuzpe said. “Today there are several manufacturers in China that are making a very good product in terms of solid strand bamboo. But in the meantime what we have decided to do as a company is to focus on engineered strand bamboo whereby the platform is on an HDF substrate. In addition, the edges are sealed with wax to prevent penetration of moisture that could affect the joints. That product is performing extremely well and we have not had any issues.”

All in the presentation

USFloors has increased its assortment of bamboo with unique decors and different constructions.
USFloors has increased its assortment of bamboo with unique decors and different constructions.

Technical issues aside, many customers respond more favorably to the visual story line. In short, that means positioning the product in such a way that consumers will be drawn to it. “Many retailers perceive bamboo as being just a green product, but it should really be placed side by side with other hardwood floors,” Keegan stated. “That’s something that a lot of retailers learned was a mistake in the past. If they’re selling bamboo—and we believe they all should be—they need to put the bamboo right next to similar colors and patterns and let people choose on the basis of aesthetics, price and performance, and what appeals to them for their particular installation. That’s the biggest lesson retailers can learn.”

Bamboo Hardwoods knows this all too well. To date the company has placed several thousand displays in the field. The results have been tangible. “A lot of retailers are making good money selling bamboo,” Keegan said. “If they’re selling a high-quality brand that shows the right colors and styles, they can make a good margin on it.”

Another key to presenting the category properly entails “under-selling.” In the early days, there were a lot of misperceptions about bamboo regarding its overblown performance attributes. For retailers to continue to succeed, they need to dial back the hype. “Consumers were taught to think that bamboo is bulletproof or that it can’t be scratched,” Keegan said. “But you have to remember that it is a natural fiber and you have to care for it like you would any other product—don’t get it wet, you must acclimate it properly and install it according to NWFA guidelines. The misinformation hurt the category in the past because people had certain [unreasonable] expectations about the product.”

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with highlighting the product’s natural attributes and documenting them accordingly. “Bamboo needs to be marketed for its durability and density,” Jewell said. “On the Janka scale, bamboo is going to be in the mid-3000s vs. oak, which is 1100. Then there’s the environmental story; you can grow bamboo and harvest it within five years. It’s rapidly renewable resource. Our bamboo is formaldehyde-free which is good for people who are concerned with healthy homes. And it’s priced well compared to some of the exotic woods on the market.”

All things considered, the pros outweigh the past cons when it comes to selling bamboo. As evidence, one need only look at the rate of new product development. At Wellmade Performance Flooring, for instance, the focus is on developing products that mimic the look of wide plank European oak. Dubbed Villa Grand, the textured line of solid strand bamboo is fully embosssed for added depth and is offered in trendy designer colors, according to Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing. Also available from Wellmade is a new line of parquet bamboo floors designed to integrate with Wellmade’s engineered strand products.

Innovative products are also the focal point for Bamboo Hardwoods, which recently launched a line of wire-brushed, hand-scraped products. The line also features a multi-ply core and backing for added strength and durability.

Not to be outdone, USFloors is expanding its bamboo offering with new colors and patterns. It’s a testament to the company’s outlook on the category. “We believe bamboo will be a very strong category into the future,” Erramuzpe said.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bamboo Hardwoods announces new ownership

July 4/11, 2016; Volume 30, Number 27

By Reginald Tucker

Bamboo Hardwoods, formally one operating unit of the Aboeda family of five different companies, announced new ownership through a buyout from its existing management and manufacturing partner. The original grouping of principals and manufacturing partner have now become full-interest owners who will be solely focused on the Bamboo Hardwoods brand.

As a result of the changeover, David Keegan, president, increases his ownership stake and adds CEO to his title. Keegan, who brings more than 17 years of experience in the bamboo flooring category — mostly with Bamboo Hardwoods — has spearheaded the company over the past decade, raising its profile from a local retailer of bamboo products to a nationally recognized manufacturer of bamboo flooring sold through distributors and authorized retailers nationwide.

Hugh Gallagher, currently CFO, increases his ownership stake as well, expanding his role to include the title of COO. Gallagher has more than 10 years experience with Bamboo Hardwoods and was an integral member of the company’s manufacturing transition team. Additional ownership interest resides with Bamboo Hardwoods’ existing manufacturing partner group in China.

“Even though there is a change in ownership, very little will change from what our valued distributors and partners have come to expect from Bamboo Hardwoods,” Keegan explained. “The majority of changes will be on the back side of the business—mostly logistical and fulfillment aspects resulting in greater efficiencies, better terms and shorter lead times for our customers.”

What that means for Bamboo Hardwoods’ retailer and distributor partners is they will have greater access to inventories in the company’s Seattle and Atlanta warehousing operations. Likewise, with the increased focus on increasing capacity at the manufacturing plant, Bamboo Hardwoods’ distributors will also be able to build on their respective inventories. This, in turn, means faster shipments to the retailer and ultimately the consumer.

“Basically our partners throughout the chain will have a lot more confidence when they’re selling our products to the homeowner,” Keegan explained. “Previously, a lot of distributors were relying on our stock; now they are going to be able to tap into their own supply.” What is not expected to change, the company stresses, is Bamboo Hardwoods’ steadfast focus on quality, consistency and service. Renowned throughout the industry as a pioneer and well-respected innovator in bamboo flooring production since 1995, the company plans to build on that solid reputation moving forward.

“While this buyout is a significant milestone for us personally, our focus on providing a high-quality brand of bamboo flooring from a trusted manufacturer that proudly stands behind their products will remain unchanged,” Keegan said. “We’ll still make our floors at our state-of-the-art factory using all the best machines and best practices. Our focus will be stronger; we have a few more key new hires within management and operations and we have more inventory in stock than we’ve ever had.”

 

Medium- to long-range goals

Over the past few weeks and months Bamboo Hardwoods has been busy at work shoring up its distribution coverage around the country. Following on the heels of the recent signing of top 20 floor covering distributors NRF and All Tile (FCNews, June 6/13), the company announced plans to further support those new wholesale partners as well as others—including Medallion in California—with the primary goal of helping them build their inventories while increasing the number of displays out in the field.

“Right now we have roughly 1,000 displays standing at the retail level, but we plan to place 1,000 more by year’s end,” Keegan said. “We have a lot of room to grow and more areas to cover. Distributors are investing in displays at their level, and they are seeing an increased return on investment.”

Another key initiative revolves around driving brand awareness through marketing, education and, yes, good old fashioned face-to-face interaction with its retailer and distributor partners out in the field. “By focusing the main education points with our distributor partners, their salespeople and our salespeople and second with media ad campaigns to promote awareness as to what’s accurate (and not accurate) about bamboo flooring,” Gallagher explained. “We also want to start focusing on social media. We have some plans in place to develop a social media platform, which is going to make a big difference. We’re not only looking to start a conversation with people about bamboo but continue that conversation on an ongoing basis.”

Lastly, Bamboo Hardwoods plans to keep a finger on the pulse of the consumer market to ensure it continues to develop products and programs in line with consumer tastes. “It’s important we stay in sync with what the market is demanding,” Keegan said. “That’s something we want to continue relative to the marketing of the brand.”

Ultimately, according to Keegan, it’s about making it worthwhile for the dealer. “We’re seeing a renaissance with bamboo. To that end, we want to be an easy program that represents a profit for the retailer while driving efficiencies that will help our distribution partners service their customers.”

 

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Wood: Bamboo, cork intros look to share in the spotlight

March 28/April 4, 2016; Volume 30, Number 20

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.05.05 AMDomestic exotics, wider and longer planks, and wire-brushed offerings dominated much of the spotlight at many of the recent national and regional trade shows. But it’s important not to overlook the numerous innovations and advancements taking place in two other bona fide sub-segments of the hardwood category: cork and bamboo.

From fresh colors and stains to enhanced surface treatments ranging from light hand scraping to low-luster finishes and techniques that mimic other natural materials, the latest cork and bamboo floors hitting the market are proving that innovation is not limited to the more mainstream products.

Bamboo Hardwoods

In keeping with current color trends, Bamboo Hardwoods has added seven new hues across all of its product lines for 2016. Standouts include granite from the Manor collection of engineered, strand-woven bamboo floors developed for consumers seeking traditional looks. The line features a wire-brushed, hand-scraped texture to provide an “Old-World” aesthetic, according to the company. A multi-ply core and backing provide durability, enabling Bamboo Hardwoods to offer a 50-year warranty. Manor is available in six different styles and designs, features distressed beveled edges and comes in 5-inch-wide x 6-foot-long planks.

EcoTimber

From Dasso, marketer of the EcoTimber brand, comes a line of “unfurled bamboo” that is made by pressing the round bamboo canes flat instead of cutting them into strips for the traditional formats or shredding them for the strand-woven options. Additionally, Dasso leaves the natural outer skin on the face of the material, which the company says is the hardest part of the bamboo (this layer becomes this floor’s natural finish). Products are offered in a 5-inch-wide plank in random widths.

In the cork category, EcoTimber offers both traditional and contemporary visuals. Travertine and Volcanic Slate designs are available in 17.5 x 17.5 tiles, while Azores, Lisboa, Porto Mocha and Zebra Natural come in 5½-inch-wide planks; Porto Natural comes in an 11 5⁄8-inch plank.

USFloors

For 2016 USFloors has introduced four SKUs in its Muse Strand engineered HDF click strand-woven bamboo line. Available in a 5 x 72 planks, the new selections complement the current collection with two gray tones, one multi-tone gray and one dark brown offering. The Muse collection is milled with the glueless Drop & Lock installation profile, eliminating the need for messy, odor-causing adhesives or costly nail guns. Backed by a lifetime residential wear and lifetime structure warranties, Muse provides a functional floor with an eco-friendly and sustainable pedigree.

WeCork

New from WeCork is the Serenity collection, a cork flooring line featuring a high-definition, three-pass, digital print technology that aims to accurately reproduce the essence of wood or tile on a cork substrate.

All products in Serenity are finished with the company’s patented “hot coating,” which provides an oil-like, satin luster while still maintaining durability. Various formats in both plank and tile options are available in a number of sizes to fit the needs of diverse applications.

Wellmade

Exotic wood flooring specialist Wellmade is rolling out the Villa Grand textured bamboo line, which offers the real look of wide plank European oak in an eco-friendly solid strand bamboo format. Other products in Wellmade’s expanding lineup of bamboo include solid strand woven, engineered strand and even a “clic” bamboo flooring option with an HDF core.

A full line of bamboo parquet tiles that integrate with Wellmade’s 9⁄16-inch engineered hardwood flooring products is also available.

Wicanders

Following its debut in Europe, Wicanders (an Amorim brand) has unveiled Hydrocork in the U.S.

Hydrocork, an engineered product that combines premium LVT with waterproof cork, integrates durability and aesthetics with comfort and improved noise-reduction qualities. Ideal for renovation projects, Hydrocork can be applied directly over an existing hard surface floor and the pieces can be easily cut to size using only a utility knife. The product comes in 5¾ x 48 planks in visuals ranging from light shades of white and gray to deep brown tones.

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Bamboo: State of the industry- Manufacturers step up commitment to innovation

October 12/19; Volume 30/Number 9

By Ken Ryan

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.36.50 PM Bamboo is among the most versatile, rapidly renewable and environmentally friendly natural resources on the planet. When used for flooring, bamboo provides distinctive visuals at a price less than most hardwood options. With that, bamboo remains a relevant product category.

Although bamboo is a grass, as a flooring material it is classified with hardwood. According to the latest market data, bamboo currently accounts for about 2% of total hardwood sales, or around $50 million, down slightly from 2.5% in 2014. The category’s most recent high point was in 2012 when it reached 6% of hardwood sales before trending downward.

When bamboo is used in the U.S. there seems to be a shift from solid construction bamboo to engineered strand. In the strand-woven process, strips of bamboo are coated with resins and then compressed with heat to form timbers. These timbers are then milled into flooring. This process produces bamboo flooring that is said to be twice as hard as traditional solid bamboo. According to executives, the benefit of an engineered strand is greater dimensional stability, which in turn allows bamboo flooring to be used in any climate and makes it attractive for commercial applications, where it is especially popular in specified commercial because of its green story.

The growth in engineered strand has necessitated a change in installation methods; five years ago, approximately 90% of bamboo installation was tongue and grove, in which the floor is nailed down, whereas 80% today is click/floating.

Experts chime in

Still a viable supplier of bamboo flooring, USFloors launched with the category when it started in 2001. While the company is best known for its COREtec Plus resilient composite product, as well as cork and engineered hardwood, it maintains a significant presence in bamboo with more than 60 SKUs.

“Bamboo is not for the faint of heart,” said Sam Ruble, vice president of sales at USFloors. “You either are all-in or you are not in the category, and we chose to take a leadership position.”

USFloors’ Muse collection—an engineered strand construction on an HDF core—is suitable for homes in high humidity areas as well as dry climates. “We market it as an all-climate strand,” Ruble said. “It doesn’t have the challenges that a solid bamboo product would have [in terms of stability.]”

Many of the problems surrounding the performance of bamboo flooring have centered on solid strand click products, according to Steve Wagner, director of marketing at Wellmade Performance Floors. “As with any flooring product it is essential to follow acclimation and installation recommendations that each manufacturer provides,” he said. “Technical support is also available from reputable manufacturers.”

Jeff Goldberg, founder and CEO of Cali Bamboo, noted a common misconception with bamboo flooring is that it expands and contracts more drastically than typical hardwood flooring. “Bamboo actually behaves no different than other hardwoods. As long as the flooring is properly acclimated, you should not have any problems. We recommend acclimating your floor for a minimum of five days, although more time is needed for extreme climates.”

While bamboo is a niche product, David Keegan, chief operating officer of Bamboo Hardwoods, said it nonetheless offers distributors and dealers a revenue opportunity with a uniquely different product. “When the economy was down it was harder for distributors to invest time and money into bamboo because it takes resources to do that. Distributors are feeling much safer now and more comfortable in investing and stocking more SKScreen Shot 2015-10-16 at 1.36.44 PMUs. We have more displays in the field than ever before and that translates into sales.”

In store, the majority of flooring dealers segregate bamboo from their hardwood selections. “It is often placed in a dusty, green corner with cork,” Keegan said. Some dealers have started to incorporate bamboo into hardwood sections and in turn have been rewarded with higher sales as a result. He implores other dealers to follow that lead.

The right placement, promotion and exposure help consumers see bamboo for the desirable product it truly is. “The problem bamboo has faced—and you will hear horror stories—is when it is not installed right,” Keegan said. “It is such a good product when done right. I am happy to have lower quality manufacturers drop out because they were the ones who weren’t doing a good job.”

What’s trending

As with any category, the future of bamboo hinges on style, innovation and performance. New products coupled with bamboo’s inherent green story will continue to be the key selling points at retail, executives said. With strand woven in particular, manufacturers are adding distressing and scraping elements to create exotic looks, blending colors and lengths of bamboo strips.

Wagner said carbonized strand has been a consistent seller for Wellmade. “The product has a character-driven visual that is very appealing, with hues of honey oak and packaged with multiple shades in each carton. We are trying to design products based on customer feedback, and not just jamming something down their throats.” Wellmade recently introduced a new collection of fully modular bamboo parquet tiles that integrate with its engineered strand products. The tiles may be used for borders and inlays or for the entire floor.

Keegan said Bamboo Hardwoods has gotten positive retail feedback on its engineered Manor line, which is made with extremely hard, strand woven bamboo in the style of traditional hickory flooring.