Cali grows to support customer needs

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CaliWhat began in 2004 as Cali Bamboo, a small manufacturer of high-performance building products made of bamboo, is today Cali Floors, a producer of a diverse range of hard surface designs, including luxury vinyl, engineered hardwood, cork and, of course, bamboo.

The company has grown significantly within the last several years, and was acquired in June 2021 by global flooring company Victoria PLC. The England-based company employs about 3,800 people across 25 sites in the UK, Europe and Australia with approximately $1 billion in annual sales. The deal has led to Cali’s expansion of its product offerings and support of its operational infrastructure.

FCNews senior editor/digital director, Megan Salzano-Birch, caught up with Doug Jackson, Cali president, to talk about the company’s debut at Surfaces, it’s ongoing growth and what the dealer community can expect next from the powerhouse brand.

In the last four years, Cali has grown significantly, diversified its product portfolio and been acquired by an international powerhouse in flooring. What did it take to get where you are today?

We are where we are because of relationships with great dealers. We have expanded a lot, but that credit goes to our dealer base and them having the faith in Cali to give us space on their floors. We don’t get anywhere without those relationships. And that’s part of why we’re excited to be on the floor at Surfaces, with a chance to see those dealers and show them all the new things coming.

Talk about the decision behind the acquisition and what that means for the company.  

We had many, very unique suitors when we decided to put the business up for sale, and at the end of the day, I don’t think we could have hand chosen a better group to acquire Cali. What Victoria PLC brings is a partner who is also in the floor covering business. So, it gives Cali the capital to continue to grow, but more importantly, it gives us access to innovation happening overseas. By joining a large floor covering group, not only are we now a bigger company with the wherewithal to expand, but we’re a bigger force within the flooring industry. And this is really the beginning of what Victoria wants to do in the United States.

What does this potential for growth mean for your customer base?  

First and foremost, we’re not looking to be anybody’s biggest supplier—just their best supplier. We want to maintain that small bamboo company heritage in what we do. We don’t want to become the next biggest floor covering company; we want to be unique. We want to be different. We want to focus on lifestyle and remain important to our customers. The last thing I think anybody wants to see Cali become is some enormous flooring brand. I think the industry’s got enough of that. We want it to stay special, small and important to our customer.

How will you continue to support your customer base while adding new markets?  

We want to give our dealer partners a brand they can comfortably specify, one they can make great margins on and have a lot of fun with. A brand that offers a unique style and differentiates their store. Our limited distribution allows us to partner with the right accounts in the marketplace and foster an ideal supplier relationship.

Talk about your decision to show at Surfaces for the first time in Cali’s history.

Really, it’s just about a small company growing up and becoming more important to our dealer base. It’s time for us to be on the floor, side by side with our competitors on a level playing field. We went from being a small bamboo company four years ago to very consciously diversifying our offering with a limited lineup of products done right.

But we’re not going to Surfaces to open up a whole bunch of new dealers; that’s not the intention. The intention is to better support the dealers we work with currently, while pinpointing some additional partners in regions where we’re not yet active.

Give us a sneak peek at what dealers can expect at the Cali booth this year.  

Well, we’ve had a kind of soft launch of Cali Vinyl Legends for almost a year, and I’m really excited to show the collection in its full glory and marry it to Cali Vinyl Longboards, which now has new colors. We’ve had a great run with the current Longboards display, and now we’ll have a sister product in Legends standing side-by-side for a premium, one-two punch. The new joint display will be ready to ship at Surfaces.

From there, our Meritage engineered hardwood product will be rebranded and re-displayed in a fun presentation that speaks to an outdoor, wine country lifestyle.

Coupled with that, you’re going to see us share what we’ve been working on from a domestic manufacturing standpoint. There is a new wave of opportunity in the domestic LVP market, and we’re excited to add to the momentum.

We continue to hear consumers prioritize waterproof, so, we’re expanding upon that desire and even going beyond LVP.

We’re also going to offer more outdoors. In this work-from-home world and the California lifestyle we specialize in, outdoor living plays a big role. So, you’re going to see us talking about decking, turf, rugs—a real outdoor surface opportunity. We’ve spent a lot of time focused on ways to offer our customers and partners more, even going beyond the walls of their home. It’s all very exciting.

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Jan. 10/17, 2022

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