Johnson Hardwood opens new manufacturing plant in Vietnam

Home Inside FCNews Johnson Hardwood opens new manufacturing plant in Vietnam

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

By Reginald Tucker

Johnson Hardwood Floors announced the start-up of its new 80,000-square-foot, multi-million dollar plant in Saigon, Vietnam. Approximately 175 people—including government officials and a mix of distributors and dealers—were on hand for the plant tour.

“The plant was built brand new from the ground up, with state-of-the-art manufacturing and finish line equipment,” said Bill Schollmeyer, CEO of Johnson Hardwood Floors. “The ultra-modern facility includes production lines for core assembly, milling/profiling, hand scraping, traditional and alternative finishes and automated climate control technology.”

One of the standout features of the new hardwood flooring plant is a finishing line spanning 150 meters. Here, specialized workers can—depending on the product line in production—manually apply different stains and finishes on the planks. According to Johnson Hardwood, the daily target production capacity is 300,000 square feet—up from an initial 60,000 square feet. More importantly, the new facility is 100% CARB-2 certified, Lacey Act compliant and utilizes only responsibly harvested species.

“I’ve seen a lot of wood floors in my lifetime; this is about as modern a plant as you can get,” said Marty Ackerman, sales manager for Michael Halebian, a Johnson Hardwood Floors distributor who was on hand for the tour. “One of the things they had in the plant that was really interesting was a dedicated section where the workers actually hand-rub the stain into the planks. They make sure the stains cover the sides and the bevels. It’s pretty cool to watch the way they operate.”

Sean O’Rourke, vice president of hard surfaces at Avalon Flooring, which operates retail locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, was similarly impressed. “Even though there’s a lot of modern equipment in the plant, they are still doing some surface texturing manually. With some manufacturers you can’t always tell if the products are partially scraped by machines or entirely done by hand. But the Pub Series from Johnson Hardwood is completely hand scraped; you would not believe the amount of work it takes to scrape one board. If homeowners and end users saw what went into hand scraping a product I think they wouldn’t balk at the price so much.”

Johnson Hardwood’s core dealer and distributor partners weren’t the only people tagging along for the plant tour. The group also included what Schollmeyer described as a “large contingent” of lumber suppliers. Given the potential estimated capacity of the new plant, private-label arrangements are not out of the question. “With an operation of this size, we plan to make products for other manufacturers who can benefit from our efficiencies,” Schollmeyer explained.

Workers at the plant handle some tasks manually, including staining and hand scraping.

The new plant is also paving the way for enhancements and updates over the course of the coming weeks and months and even longer term. Johnson Hardwood is preparing to break ground on a plywood production facility adjacent to the flooring mill. A larger-scale production shift is also expected further down the road as a result of the new facility coming online.

“With the exception of our ¾-inch solid products, we will eventually transition all production [from China] to our new facility,” Schollmeyer told FCNews.

Well-rounded program

While the new factory was the focal point of the trip, it wasn’t the only purpose. Given the captive audience, Johnson Hardwood used the event as an opportunity to obtain feedback on some “potential” new products. It also gave dealers and distributors the chance to talk shop.

The new plant features am advanced, automated finishing line.

For dealers like Avalon Flooring, which has been carrying the manufacturer’s products for about nine years running, the exchange of information was invaluable. “The trip gave us an opportunity to speak with several Johnson Hardwood distributors and direct dealers to find out what’s going on in other parts of the country,” O’Rourke said.

The weeklong event also included a visit to Taipei, Taiwan, where attendees toured Ho Chi Minh City and took part in a dinner cruise on the Mekong River. “Saigon is starting to look like other major cities throughout the world with all the high-end shops, upscale hotels and banks,” O’Rourke observed. “Although it’s a Communist country, it’s good to see Vietnam is on the move.”


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