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Cali Bamboo names Doug Jackson CEO

San Diego, Calif.—Cali Bamboo has named Doug Jackson, the company’s president and industry veteran, as its new chief executive officer. As CEO, Jackson will continue to leverage Cali’s unique platform, authentic brand experience and highly specialized team to drive accelerated growth. The promotion recognizes the company’s board of directors’ complete confidence in Cali’s future outlook and strategic direction.

“Having now had almost a year working as a part of this amazing team, I’m more convinced than ever that this company is becoming known throughout the industry as a major disrupter,” said Jackson. “To be here, helping to fuel and guide that disruption is both an honor and a great pleasure.”

Since joining Cali Bamboo as chief revenue officer in September 2017 and being promoted to president last November, Jackson has proven instrumental in building out the company’s leadership team and thoughtfully retargeting the unique omnichannel platform on areas of revenue growth. Under his direction, Cali has recalibrated and expanded its dealer program, accelerated new product introductions and increased its presence at key industry trade shows.

As a former Shaw Industries divisional vice president of sales and marketing, Jackson brings over 20 years of experience and is known for facilitating strategic, long-term business relationships with customers in the dealer, national account and trade channels—three arenas where Cali Bamboo is positioned for considerable further growth.

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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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Cali Bamboo names Jackson president

San Diego—Cali Bamboo has named Doug Jackson president of the company. Jackson, an industry veteran, draws from over 20 years in the flooring business, most recently as the vice president of sales and marketing for Tuftex, the premier carpet brand of Shaw Industries.

This appointment marks the successful conclusion of a deliberate leadership transition process.

Over the last few years of the company’s rapid market share growth, Cali Bamboo’s board of directors has worked in close coordination with Jeff Goldberg, founder and CEO, and Tanner Haigwood, co-founder and executive vice president, to build out a leadership team with the experience to effectively manage Cali’s increased scale and sustain its growth trajectory. As part of this planned transition, Goldberg and Haigwood will become strategic advisors to the company and maintain their roles as members of the company’s board of directors.

Jackson joined Cali Bamboo as its chief revenue officer in August 2017, working to leverage the company’s unique omnichannel platform and authentic brand to drive accelerated growth and foster stronger relationships with dealer partners. His new role, which was effective Nov. 22, comes as the company prepares for its next phase of expansion, having increased revenue by 80% in 2016 and landed on the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies List for the ninth consecutive year.

“The timing for this transition could not be better, as Cali Bamboo is thriving in every way,” said Goldberg. “We are proud to have built a pioneering direct-to-consumer business and one of the fastest-growing branded green building product companies in the country. We are confident that Doug and the Cali Bamboo leadership team will sustain and build upon the company’s legacy of success.”

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Exclusive interview: Jackson takes Tuftex on the road less traveled

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.06.41 PMSanta Fe Springs, Calif.—It’s been three years since Doug Jackson took the reins of Tuftex, the premium carpet division of Shaw Industries. While Tuftex has always enjoyed a reputation of high-end, trendsetting, West Coast styling—first as a stand-alone mill, then as a division of Queen Carpet before the latter was purchased by Shaw in 1998—the company today still maintains its longstanding identity while adapting to a changing climate. FCNews publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman recently sat down with Jackson to discuss what’s driving the mill and the brand.

How is Tuftex different as a company today than it was three years ago?
Two important aspects come to mind: First, everything is now under one roof. We brought our tufting facility back to the Santa Fe Springs location, which allows Tuftex to operate as a small, nimble mill. Sales, manufacturing, product development and marketing now share the same building for the first time in quite a few years. This gives us the ability to walk down the hall, walk into the plant and have immediate dialogue with any department. In addition, our regular roundtable meetings allow the individual business leaders to discuss and strategize face-to-face.

Second, our go-to-market plan has changed. Tuftex was an à la carte manufacturer. We had a couple of displays and everything was à la carte. Today, the line is broken into three distinctive categories: Classics, our value collection, focusing mostly on builder and roll sales; Stainmaster PetProtect; and Signature, our higher-end line. There is a product and merchandising strategy to help define who Tuftex is. We are building product with purpose and a specific home.

How much have sales increased over the last three years? What’s driving that?
In the past three years, sales have steadily increased…driven by our mix of products, styling, builder business, Stainmaster PetProtect and an unwavering focus on our customers. The essence of Tuftex can be summed up as: the right people, creating the right products and doing the right things.

Give me a collection or two that is really performing well in the marketplace.
The Naturals collections in the Signature category. This line incorporates the natural color variations of striated yarns and a handcrafted look and feel with texture that adds incredible performance with exceptional styling; it’s just right for the market. Another is our three-color ColorPoints…these styles represent the closest we’ve seen to woven products in a synthetic yarn. Even though they’ve only been out in the marketplace four months, the placements and sales have been outstanding.

What are you most proud of these past three years?
I am most proud of the fact Tuftex has grown its business in a soft surface category that has been mostly stagnant. Not many carpet mills can say they’ve grown their business each of the last three years. We have a simple, strategic go-to-market plan as outlined earlier. Customers recognize it and it’s working. As evidence, we have won FCNews’ Award of Excellence for three consecutive years. That is something we don’t take lightly.

What do you feel Tuftex does better than every other carpet mill?
Shaw Industries has the best claims ratio in the industry, and Tuftex has the best claims ratio within Shaw. So that makes us the best of the best. In addition, our utilization of different fibers, as well as the yarn mill in Yuma, Ariz., that services Tuftex exclusively, allows us to do things with yarn and yarn systems that other people can’t or won’t. The other thing is color. Tuftex is definitely known for color and we take advantage of that. We have one dye line at this facility and make hundreds of changes a day. In addition, we have a custom-dye program unlike any in the industry because we want consumers to have what they want.

Tell me one thing retailers might not know about Tuftex.
Tuftex is thought of as a high-end line, and we are a premium line. But we also represent value. We go to market in many different ways and are involved in many different businesses. However, we are at the high end of every business we are in. That includes the builder business—with product offerings in the mid to high end of design center selections. People who know us like us and know that we can make a lot of money for them. We are involved in retail, specified and resi-mercial/mixed use (high-rise buildings)…also a little hospitality. At the end of the day, Tuftex is about affordable luxury. In fact, we can be found in multiple areas of a retail showroom, not just the high-end area where people expect to find us.

Tuftex may be the premium brand of Shaw, but there are mainstream products, yes?
Everything Tuftex makes is premium—design, color, construction, finish, etc. It would be a mistake to downgrade the terminology of our product offering to mainstream, value or entry level. In Classics, we make foundational products that appeal to the widest range of consumer tastes and budgets, and we are particularly strong in new home construction. In Signature, we showcase extraordinary styles, colors, textures and patterns that inspire consumers to create elevated living spaces throughout the house—that can include just a single room or only the stairs.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
While our transaction rates are up to almost historical numbers, our yards per transaction have decreased approximately 30% over the years as carpet has taken a smaller portion of the home market. However, over the past year, we are seeing this trend reverse itself somewhat with an uptick of close to 10%. The reason being, I think, is people are finding carpet to be the better solution for stairs and bedrooms.

How does that trend continue?
We just have to get back to conveying that carpet is still cool. We do that by building the most beautiful, soft floor covering products in the industry, and by focusing on attributes such as warmth, comfort, softness and durability.

What’s new for 2017?
The Villa collection is definitely on fire. In addition, our staircase campaign is doing very well. Our custom color story is separating us. We have a custom area rug program and innovative usage of fiber technology in a series of new Caress products highlighted by the product Sundance. This year we also introduced a pattern wall—an upgrade to our Signature Tuftex library. The pattern wall was designed for shows and markets as a great way to showcase products and patterns. Retailers realized how well this wall highlighted the color and style of the Tuftex line and an unprecedented demand ensued with many having been placed in showrooms around the country. I am very pleased with this positive feedback.

How does Tuftex help retailers make money?
We are a frictionless supplier. We offer beautiful products, just in time, and custom colors backed by the industry’s lowest claim rate, at a price where retailers can make a nice profit. In short, it’s the right people with the right products doing the right things.

What are retailers asking of Tuftex today?
They are expecting us to continue to be an industry leader and staying ahead of the curve. Tuftex has always been known for innovation, so we are expected to continue being innovative with unique styling and industry-leading color. At markets, people expect to see the newest colors as well as something new and different from Tuftex.

Any plans for a Tuftex-branded LVT product?
Not at this time. I can’t predict the future, and things change, but not at this time.