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Domestic production remains at American OEM, Hearthwood Floors’ core

Burns, Tenn.—The family behind American OEM and Hearthwood Floors has a long-standing legacy of manufacturing quality engineered wood floors in America. Keeping manufacturing in the United States is a central tenant of the company’s promise to provide their customers with the most beautifully designed, highest quality products and responsive service possible.

For over 80-years, the Finkell/Anderson family has been committed to producing hardwood flooring in the United States and continues that commitment in a time where imported material has become the industry norm. In the last 10 years, Asian production of hardwood flooring has slowly increased, going from around 15% being imported in 2008 to more than 50% today. Even in such a difficult economic climate, the leadership at American OEM and Hearthwood has remained dedicated to “Made in America.”

“We are extremely proud to produce our flooring right here in the United States,” said Allie Finkell, executive vice president at Hearthwood, and great granddaughter of Andy Anderson, the inventor of engineered wood flooring in 1938. “Our legacy over the past four generations includes manufacturing everything from plywood to veneer to flooring in our domestic facilities. By doing so, we can maximize control over quality and service so our customers know they are receiving a superior product and the shortest lead times.”

Currently, there are no specific country of origin label requirements at the point of sale, so it can be very difficult to determine where products are made. “Made in America” is a prestigious designation because it requires “all or virtually all” of the components be of U.S. origin, and the manufacturing must be done on U.S. soil. At American OEM and Hearthwood, all of the wood sent to the state-of-the-art manufacturing plant is grown in the U.S., and all parts of the process are completed under the same roof in the company’s plant outside of Nashville, Tenn., to earn the “Made in America” label.

The mill features the longest wood floor finishing line in the world, to produce lengths up to 8 feet, as well as wide widths in a variety of species and platforms. It is flexible in the constructions it can produce, ranging from veneer core to HDF core, topped with sawn, sliced or rotary face veneers. Limitless design capabilities are achieved through a talented, hands-on workforce and industry leading staining techniques for every color of the spectrum. The American OEM/Hearthwood facility is efficient, and therefore has capacity to accommodate increases in the demand for domestically produced engineered wood flooring.

For more information about Hearthwood flooring, email info@hearthwood.com.

To learn more about private labeling programs, email info@americanoem.com.

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NWFA conference delivers value for installers, vendors

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Reginald Tucker

 

Tampa, Fla.—Scores of hardwood flooring contractors, manufacturers and distributors converged at the Tampa Bay Convention Center here recently for the 33rd annual National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) conference and expo. As advertised, the event offered something for everyone in attendance—new products galore, networking and educational opportunities, technical tips and even some entertainment.

“It was a great event,” Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO, told FCNews. “In terms of numbers, we had about 3,000 people attend the expo—which has been pretty steady when you look at our shows over the past few years. We felt really good about it.”

Martin has good reason. The NWFA conference and expo was named one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows for the past six consecutive years. Beyond the sprawling showcase of hardwood flooring products, installation tools and accessories, a big draw for attendees is the depth of technical, marketing and management sessions offered. In fact, the conference portion of the event boasted 20-plus hours of educational programming.

“We try to devise seminars that address the needs of all the channel segments we serve,” Martin explained, citing the mix of attendees who come to the show. What’s more, conference sessions are structured in such a fashion that encourages audience participation and interaction. “It’s not people talking ‘at you’ all the time. To that end, the sessions are arranged so participants are vocal and active during at least one-third of the sessions to keep them engaged. This allows everyone to learn from each other.”

Indeed, training and education remain a top priority for the association—and this extends beyond the instruction provided during NWFA’s renown installation schools held at its headquarters in Chesterfield, Mo., as well as regional training events across the country. During his opening keynote address to attendees, Martin provided an update on NWFAU—the group’s online training program. Since its inception in the summer of 2016, more than 30,000 courses have been completed by roughly 5,000 users—that translates into about 45 courses taken daily.

“We’re very encouraged by the participation we’re seeing in our online NWFA University,” Martin stated. “At the end of the day, the program benefits retailers, installers and consumers alike.”

Vendors see the value

Many of the exhibitors FCNews spoke to during the product showcase applaud the efforts NWFA management has made over the years to provide value for all members involved. Not only does the NWFA develop programs designed to raise the skill level of the dozens of professional hardwood flooring contractors in attendance, but the association goes above and beyond to deliver a captive audience for manufacturer members and vendor partners

“We’re here to support the industry and the association,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate, Mannington. “Many of the attendees here service the new home construction and residential replacement markets—both of which are important sectors for us.”

Pierre Thabet, president and CEO of Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood floors, agrees. “If you’re looking to reach the specialty hardwood flooring contractor, then this is the place to be,” he said. “This is where you meet the installers who really know all about hardwood flooring.”

Mannington and Mirage are not alone. Paul Rezuke, vice president, residential sales, USA, Wickham Flooring, also sees the value in exhibiting at the NWFA expo. “It’s been a really great show for us,” he told FCNews on the second day of the exhibition. “We feel it’s important to have a presence here as we expand our go-to-market strategy in the U.S. We’ve had some pretty good leads.”

Others see attending the expo as an opportunity to not only get in front of professional contractors, but also wood flooring distributors. “We’re here to show our new offerings in our branded Hearthwood line as well as products on the American OEM side that we can offer to distributors on a private-label basis,” said Allie Finkell, executive vice president.

Show stoppers

Among the key highlights of the 2018 NWFA show was the Plank Tank contest the association created to encourage members to submit their industry-related business ideas. Modeled after ABC Network’s “Shark Tank,” contestants in NWFA’s Plank Tank pitched their idea during the opening general session.

The competition was hosted by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, owners of Cousins Maine Lobster, who appeared on “Shark Tank” in a previous season. The businessmen, known for growing their small food truck start-up into a national franchise success, also shared their experiences with attendees during the keynote presentation. The celebrity judges, along with a team of wood flooring professionals, reviewed previously submitted business ideas to determine their merits.

The contest winner, which was announced on the last day of the show along with the NWFA Floor of the Year finalists (see page 8), was Insight Flooring Technologies. The company was recognized for QuoteHero, an app that allows contractors and estimators to measure the square footage of rooms, estimate jobs and close sales on the spot. Insight Flooring Technologies received a $15,000 customized package of NWFA marketing and education products and services.

NWFA’s Martin applauded the concept. “It was good to see NWFA members up there on stage talking about new tools and innovations that will help the industry.”

Look for more coverage of the 2018 NWFA expo in upcoming editions of FCNews.

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American OEM obtains renewed status of CARB ULEF exemption

Burns, Tenn.—American OEM has obtained renewed status of its CARB ULEF exemption on engineered wood flooring products. This renewal was granted after a perfect record of passing indoor air quality tests for formaldehyde emissions, and it was also extended to include product with HDF core materials, which the company will manufacturing beginning in the second quarter of 2018. This exemption grants American OEM the ability to reduce submittal samples for VOC testing, and establishes the company’s products as ultra-low risk for off gassing.

“The health and safety of our consumers is of upmost concern to us,” said Don Finkell, American OEM founder and CEO. “We will continue quarterly tests for VOCs to ensure we remain compliant with all regulations, even though it is no longer required.”

This type of continuous quality assurance provides customers with peace of mind—something that, according to Finkell, many lost after the “60 Minutes” special exposed unsafe levels of formaldehyde in wood-based products sold in a major retail chain.

HPVA laboratories is a third-party laboratory that has been testing and certifying North American manufacturers of engineered wood products for more than 50 years. The lab is currently a California- approved, third-party certifier (CARB TPC-8).

In addition to CARB exempt status, American OEM has also achieved Indoor Advantage Gold certification for ultra-low emitting materials, verifying that all hardwood produced in the company’s Tennessee facility contributes to healthy indoor air quality for customers of American OEM private-label products, as well as all products sold under the company’s new Hearthwood brand.