By Reginald Tucker
San 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.”