AHF Products recently acquired certain assets of American OEM, manufacturer of hardwood flooring that markets private-label products and under the brands Raintree, Hearthwood and Emily Morrow Home. With the tenuous state of supply globally, the move guarantees more American-made engineered hardwood for a broad range of AHF distributor and retail customers.
American OEM manufactures engineered hardwood products at its plant in Only, Tennessee, (halfway between Nashville and Jackson) in a broad range of styles and species such as red oak, white oak, hickory, maple, and walnut.
Founded by Don Finkell in 2013 to deliver high quality, high-style flooring products with widespread consumer appeal, American OEM serves flooring distributors, specialty, and national retailers across North America. American OEM’s socially responsible business model uses a voluntary Prison Industry Enterprise (PIE) program to employ incarcerated individuals to help manufacture its products. Located on the campus of the Turney Center Industrial Complex in Only, Tennessee, the company’s operations provide voluntary work opportunities for inmates as well as civilians.
Floor Trends recently met with AHF President and CEO Brian Carson and Vice President Don Finkell to learn more about the acquisition.
Floor Trends: What does the acquisition of American OEM mean for AHF Products?
Carson: We continue to transition to a full-service, full-offering flooring provider with our with our commercial vinyl and commercial wood under Parterre, as well as the Bruce laminate, which just started shipping this month. But our roots are still in hardwood, and those roots run deep.
We manufacturer in eight plants throughout America. Don has been a tremendous innovator in the hardwood space for over 30 years—for as long as I've been in the industry. The businesses that he has owned and the businesses that he has run have always been at the forefront of style, design and innovation. We were looking for ways to grow, and Don was looking for somebody to invest behind a lot of the ideas, and it seemed like a wonderful match.
It's a phenomenal thing for our distributors and our retailers. It gives us more stateside capacity with the Tennessee plant at a time when domestic supply is important, and the American OEM plant in Tennessee had styling capabilities that we didn't have—and we had technologies they didn’t have. It also brought two new technologies to AHF: we have Hydropel, which is our waterproof hardwood, and Don makes a 360-degree waterproof product on all of his engineered hardwood in the Tennessee plant.
Floor Trends: Don, why was the timing right now for you?
Finkell: The market is turning back towards domestic with all the freight issues. There are a lot of issues in the U.S. around finding labor, and the Tennessee model, you know, has abundant labor—we're not restricted there. We’ve got more people wanting to work than we can actually put to work. For me, the reality of being in the industry this long means you’re older. It's a way to offload some parts of business that are not as enjoyable to me and concentrate on the things that I do with joy the most. I still have a definite passion for the product. I've always kind of come at it from the angle of how can you invent a better mouse trap? AHF has a lot of resources that are helpful to that process.
Floor Trends: What does that product development look like going forward?
Carson: We’re going to grow the American OEM brands: Emily Morrow, Heartwood, and RainTree. Don’s going to be charged with that. He’s got the product folks and the sales folks and the folks involved in the merchandising. We were looking for companies that have the right DNA. We are insanely focused on creating value from a customer's point of view. Style, design, features and benefits marketing—Don’s legendary in that area.
Floor Trends: Can you describe a little bit about how the three American OEM brands will fold into the current AHF portfolio?
Finkell: We have within all three of the brands about 60% of the geography of the United States covered. We have holes and we're looking for customers to fill those holes geographically without overlapping too much with our existing distributors. They’ve got a group of distributors that perhaps would be interested in those products. Conversely, they've got products that our customers may find additive to their business and help them make more money
Carson: Some of the American OEM distributors are actually already part of the AHF family— they carry the brands that we have. Whether I’m an existing distributor or a new distributor, I'd be thinking that now I have more manufacturing capabilities—world-class manufacturing capabilities—to give me more options for my private label and for my branded programs to put more differentiation under those brands.
For more information, visit ahfproducts.com.