October 14/21, 2019: Volume 35/Issue 8
By Reginald Tucker
Boa-Franc, maker of the renown Mirage brand of hardwood flooring, recently announced the acquisition of Ten Oaks in partnership with the Williams and Birkett families. The Stuart, Va.-based supplier of red and white oak unfinished solid hardwood floors operates two facilities in the region.
Ten Oaks sits on a 260,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that occupies 34 acres of land in the picturesque foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, the company sources 100% of its Appalachian hardwood from verified sustainable hardwood forests for use in its wood flooring products. (Back in 2017, Ten Oaks purchased the old Stuart Flooring mill from Shaw Industries after Shaw announced the plant would close at the end that year.)
“Ten Oaks has an excellent reputation in the industry,” said Pierre Thabet, president, Boa-Franc, which is headquartered in St. Georges, Quebec, Canada. “The company also has a natural fit with our culture. It is well located, and it has an experienced workforce.”
According to Thabet, Boa-Franc will primarily benefit from Ten Oaks’ workforce, location and raw materials. “The purpose was to have a better supply of white oak, and this is what we have here. But it’s a different network, a different brand. What they make now is unfinished solid flooring, so there is room to add value. We will continue for the next two years to improve it and fine tune it.”
It is unlikely that the facility will convert to engineered. “We may source some planks to make our engineered here in Quebec, but there’s no set-up of engineered at Ten Oaks, and there are no plans to put some in the near future,” Thabet said.
The deal will benefit Ten Oaks in other ways, according to Buddy Williams, president. “This partnership will allow Ten Oaks to benefit from Boa-Franc’s know-how to accelerate growth and secure the wellbeing of the Stuart community.”
Boa-Franc’s acquisition of Ten Oaks—its third purchase over the past 15 years—was in the works since 2017, Thabet reports. “We started looking for a U.S. platform about five years ago, but we didn’t want to start from scratch. The key element that we were looking for was a cultural fit, skilled workforce, good location and good supply of lumber. The first visit there was August of 2017, and we found all of the above there. We took some time to get to know each other, with more serious discussions taking place in August of last year.”
History of innovation
Ten Oaks boasts a long legacy of innovation and product evolution. In 1982, the founder of the company, Buddy Williams, left Masonite Corp. to strike out on his own business venture. He purchased the moth-balled strip flooring operation from the Masonite and moved the machinery across town to a spot on the Mayo River along Dobyns Road. In July of 1984, he launched Stuart Flooring Corp. with one half of a strip flooring manufacturing line.
In 2004, Williams purchased T. George Vaughan Furniture from the Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. building located in the Rich Creek Corporate Park in Stuart. With a blank slate of 260,000 square feet and 34 acres of land, the 67-year-old entrepreneur and his family members started Ten Oaks, LLC with a simple idea—make hardwood flooring better.
One of the enduring innovations that came out of the company was Six Side Seal, a patented moisture barrier process that coats each surface of the plank (including tongue and groove) immediately after machining. According to the company, this provides optimal side matching.
With the acquisition by Boa-Franc, Ten Oaks expects to continue developing new innovations. “What we did in the last two years was the training—now the marathon is starting,” Thabet said. “We are convinced it will be another success over time.”