Following is the 18th edition of the Real Wood Coalition editorial coverage, which can also be seen in the November 1 print edition of FCNews.
These features include educational insights, new and staple hardwood products and a spotlight featuring one of the Coalition’s members. A new edition of RWC coverage will be available in every print issue of FCNews throughout the year.
DID YOU KNOW
Partnering with the right wood vendor can make all the difference
There are literally dozens of hardwood flooring suppliers in the market today. The upside is the consumer has countless options from which to choose for her specific tastes and designs. On the flip side, it’s important to note that all are created equal. In order to ensure a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership, there are certain traits retailers and distributors need to look for in a potential supplier.
Above all, a good supplier should provide a high level of service commensurate with product quality. “I think you’ll find that most manufacturers have the ability to produce,” said Wade Bondrowski, director of U.S. sales, Mercier Wood Flooring. “Right now, what we’re finding is our distribution partners who had a little bit of a tough year with COVID-19, everyone’s just playing a little bit tighter to the vest. Distributors really need to take a good look at what is selling and have that amount on supply to provide to their end user.”
That’s easier said than done, of course, given the complexities involved in sourcing and handling natural materials such as wood. “There is a large amount of forecasting that has to be done to make sure you get it right on the supply side, and we try to get our partners to get in line with that,” Bondrowski explained. “With popular species like white oak and red oak, you’re looking at several weeks before you can actually ship it into a box by the time it’s kiln dried, milled, finished and put on a truck. It’s not like you’re sitting on all this raw material. If your supply isn’t correct at that time, you’re looking at a six-week turnaround time. A retailer or distributor needs a supplier who can effectively manage that process.”
Retailers and distributors also need to align with suppliers known for their quality and reliability. A prime example is Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood floors—a name synonymous with quality. “We believe we have been setting the pace for high-quality produced hardwood floors since the inception of the company in 1983,” said Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s the culture within the company that makes the difference.”
But that’s not the only reason. “We try to buy the best lumber we can from reliable and responsible suppliers,” Williams said. “Others do that as well, but the difference is the people we have and their know-how.”
Promoting wood’s value proposition
It’s no secret that hardwood flooring is facing intense competition from alternative categories designed to emulate real wood. However, one of the many advantages that genuine hardwood offers over look-alike products is the ability to generate higher profit margins and higher sales dollars for the specialty retailer.
“Buyers who are purchasing larger, more premium homes are choosing hardwood floors for their natural beauty, high-end finishes and products that add value to their home,” said Pat Oakley, vice president of sales and marketing at Mullican Hardwood Flooring. “The high end in both new home construction and the remodeling market are very strong for hardwood today.”
Hardwood flooring enthusiast agree the appetite for higher-end wood flooring products among today’s consumer is directly related to people spending more of their disposable income on home improvements vs. travel and entertainment. “Clearly people are spending more time at home and want quality products,” Oakley added. “Wood is warm and natural and has a classic look and feel. Over the years, other products have attracted attention and market share, but wood is a long-term investment and still the only product we see listed as a value-added feature in the resale market for housing.”
Other suppliers agree the strong residential demand is fueling sales. “We have a very strong housing market right now,” said Wade Bondrowski, director of sales, USA, Mercier. “Looking at the amount of houses that are turning, people are moving into new homes and adding their own styles. We see that market as well as new home construction as the two driving forces.”
Brad Williams, vice president of sales and marketing at Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand, agreed. “Single-family new construction and residential replacement is driving the growth in the hardwood category,” he said.
This activity, suppliers report, is not relegated just to select applications. Suppliers are even seeing positive movement beyond remodeling. “Our business tends to be much more focused on the residential replacement business, but we’re honestly seeing good demand across all those segments of the building market,” said Jodie Doyle, vice president, sales and marketing, U.S., Indusparquet. “On the commercial contract segment, we are experiencing really high demand for products for specification.”
TRIED AND TRUE
Wexford from Mullican
Inspired by the great castles and villas of Europe, Wexford offers a classic wide plank farmhouse style, ½-inch thickness with a low-gloss finish, resulting in a classic and unique visual with characteristics only found in hardwood flooring. These include naturally occurring character marks such as open and filled knots, mineral streaks and color variation.
NEW AND NOTABLE
Novo Collection by Indusparquet
The Novo Collection introduces a brilliant modern spin to traditional Brazilian exotics. With Novo, Indusparquet offers low-gloss, textured, handscraped versions of this stunning wood species. The company’s flat wire-brushed options offer a clean, contemporary look for any home or commercial application.
Mercier wholesale partners deliver
Mercier recognized its top-performing distributor partners during a special awards ceremony held at its headquarters in Montmagny, Québec, earlier this year.
Certified Carpets Distribution—Distributor of the Year
“Certified Carpets Distribution is a valuable contributor to the development of the brand, and we are proud to have such a strong partner in the Midwest territory,” said Wade Bondrowski, director of sales, USA, Mercier Wood Flooring.
Michael Halebian & Co.—Merchandiser of the Year
Michael Halebian & Co. was recognized for its hard work in increasing the number of Mercier retail locations in the Northeast. “They had a record year in terms of new Mercier account openings,” Bondrowski said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”
J.J. Haines & Co.— Salesman of the Year
The Salesman of the Year award went to Ryan Musser, account executive, J.J. Haines. “His great professionalism and his desire to offer the best to his customers have allowed Ryan to win this well-deserved recognition,” Bondrowski said.