Bjelin's Hardened Wood commercial flooring product won best overall product at The International Surface Event (TISE) in 2023. Zach Adams, general manager North America, shares how the flooring, which features technologies 5G Dry and Woodura from Välinge Innovation, is expanding possibilities for engineered wood floors specified in the commercial market.
Floor Trends: Tell me about Bjelin's growth in North America?
Zach Adams: We’ve got a pretty strong game plan, and over the next five years, we're looking to be over $100 million dollars. We want four million square meters of hard surface and wood out the door. Currently in Sweden, we have about 50 million square feet of capacity online. In Croatia, we're adding another 200 million square feet over the next three to five years.
Floor Trends: You introduce this product into the commercial market in mid-2022. What has been the response so far?
Adams: Commercial is an interesting kind of market. I’m very partial to it. Our product naturally fits in both residential and commercial, but with the performance attributes of our product, with the overall aesthetics and the price point, I think we've captured something that normally pushed wood out of the commercial space for a number of years. We've created a product that fits that void. Plus, a lot of design firms are looking to go natural. We sell multiple products, but the major firms are starting to take hold of some sustainability pieces.
In the next five years, we're looking to get about 60% to 70% of our revenue from the commercial side of the business. I’ve been a big advocate that wood has its place in the commercial space. You've seen it over the years be cannibalized by a lot of the rigid core products due to performance and price, but they all have wood visuals. People in the commercial space have not moved away from wood—they still love the aesthetic—but what they were dying for and really desiring was a well-priced performing wood, which has been non-existent until we came along with our hard and wood concept.
Floor Trends: Tell us about this technology.
Adams: There are four major technologies, but the one that allows us really to go into the commercial space is that we've created a class 33 durability rated product that can go into medium to heavy commercial. We are able to strengthen the wood up to three times. Plus, our locking systems are very easy to install, so you don't get the pushback that you typically get when you introduce new products to particularly well-trained installers. We've added the 5G dry technology and we've created a topical waterproof solution for a wood product; that's unique too. All of those things combined together have made us very successful so far in the commercial.
Floor Trends: Which commercial segments are showing demand for this product?
Adams: In the segments we’ve seen this take hold, obviously multifamily is big for us—we're starting to see a lot of traction there already. Hospitality is another and education particularly, particularly in living spaces. Corporate is another big one. And then communities that cater to the 55 and over type groups where they're looking to downsize into some of these mixed-use communities. They still want very high-end looks, but they also need a performance piece to go with it.
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