There are some building materials that consistently
make the list of features of a home for sale. Stainless steel
appliances, professionally landscaped yard, brick exterior,
new HVAC system, and hardwood floors.
From the weather-worn floors of old-English pubs to
modern designer show houses, few building materials stand
the test of time like hardwood floors. No other flooring offers
the warmth, beauty, and value of wood. Most experts agree?
houses with wood flooring sell faster and for higher prices
than houses without wood floors.
We asked representatives from The Hardwood Company,
for their advice on selecting floors for residential uses.
?Wood floors are one of the few flooring options that
become more beautiful with age,? said Richard ?Woody?
Buchanan, president of The Hardwood Company.
?In fact, many consumers today choose ?hand-scraped? or
?antique? flooring to give their new hardwood floors more of
an ?aged? look. Hand-scraped flooring is normally solid wood
flooring that are scraped and finished before installation.
Antique flooring is solid and is also pre-finished. It contains
saw marks and rough edges that give the floor an appearance
that seems much ?older? than it actually is. One of the great
advantages to this type of floor is that people don?t have to
worry as much when it gets scratched.
?Homeowners have an almost infinite variety of choices
when it comes to wood floors. New choices include Brazilian
cherry, rosewood, teak, bloodwood, tauari, mesquite, cherry,
and walnut. Variety in colors and hues is considered trendy
today. In the past, people matched their floors to their cabinets,
but now, people contrast the two.
In addition to different woods, consumers are choosing
different floor widths. Many select patterns of 3?, 4?, and 5?
flooring rather than the traditional
2 ?? wood floor.
But do these woods require
?No more than normal,?
added Buchanan. ?But like any
natural product, wood is always
gaining and losing moisture.
?Homeowners should control
the atmosphere in their homes if
they want hardwoods to maintain their integrity.
?The wider the width of the flooring, the more necessary it
becomes to maintain the atmosphere in the house to prevent
shrinking or cupping.
?In order to prevent this from happening, we recommend
the installation of a humidity control device on their HVAC
system,? Buchanan continued. ?We also ask people to control
the atmosphere in their crawl spaces. With the recent
publicity of mold, there are many options to seal the crawl
space and maintain proper humidity levels. By maintaining
the atmosphere under the house, shrinking and expansion
can be almost eliminated.
?Buchanan added one hardwood that is the least susceptible
to moisture variations, is mesquite. ?It is an excellent
value because of its stability and hardness.
?No matter what the species or the floor construction type,
in general, there are few building materials that can last for
generations and remain timeless in terms of design?but
hardwood floors can.
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Builder/Architect has been doing business with The
Hardwood Company for about eight years, during which
time the company has enjoyed explosive growth. Please
track the performance of the company from 1996 to the
D. Kevin Brown (DKB):
We really exploded out of the gate when the company
started in 1996. Over the last couple of years the
business has leveled off to some degree with the
economy. However, we are excited as the pace is picking
up again as the economy continues to strengthen.
B/A: Now to the
present?tell our readers about the acquisition of The Hardwood
Company by Granite Hardwoods, Inc. What products and services
do you offer and how long has Granite Hardwoods been in
Buchanan (WB): We decided to purchase The Hardwood Company,
(May 2003), because we wanted to diversify our current
business. Granite Hardwoods is in the hardwood lumber
distribution business and we felt like The Hardwood Company and
it?s stable of products (hardwood flooring, hardwood paneling,
stair treads and risers, mouldings and Weather Shield Windows
and Doors) would be a perfect compliment to our company?s
current product offerings. Granite Hardwoods has been in
business since 1965 and we are a third-generation company that
is rooted in Alabama where my Grandfather started in business
over 70 years ago.
B/A: What is The
Hardwood Company?s current service territory?
We currently have showrooms in Charlotte and Boone. We are up
fitting a building in downtown West Jefferson (Ashe County), NC
and plan to open that showroom by late spring ?04. We are also
constructing a combination warehouse and showroom in Granite
Falls (which is about 5 miles west of Hickory). We also plan to
establish a showroom in the Asheville area once we get
established in the market.
B/A: What are the
company?s plans for the future with respect to expanding into
We continue to look for opportunities to expand. We are
fortunate to have strong backing and we are confident in the
business model we are using to grow The Hardwood Company. We
have implemented some very good systems that are helping to lay
the foundation for solid growth in the years to come.
B/A: The Hardwood
Company is in a highly specialized and competitive business: To
what do you attribute the company?s success?
Two words??Quality People.? Quality people really do make a
company. That philosophy along with great products and quality
vendors has made us very competitive in a tough industry. The
expectation levels of the customer today are so much higher than
they were years ago because people are so much savvier and
better informed about products for their home. The Internet has
helped in this process tremendously. We will continue to look
at ways to capitalize on this fascination with information by
upgrading our website to be a top-notch on-line showroom.
People are now so busy, they would rather look at products
on-line in their pajamas at 10 o?clock at night than try to make
the time to go to a showroom, hence, the need to be ahead of the
information curve. Don?t get me wrong, there is still a
definite need for showrooms, but the landscape of serving the
customer is constantly changing. We all must change with it to
stay ahead of that curve and be successful.
B/A: Your Company
is acknowledged as a Premier Distributor of Weather Shield
Windows & Doors. How has this association with Weather Shield
benefited The Hardwood Company?
Weather Shield is an outstanding window and door company. They
have been in business for 53 years and they are debt free. They
are extremely innovative and have revenues over $800 million
dollars (since he Schield?s family purchase of Peachtree, Vetter
and Crestline eighteen months ago). Weather Shield gives us
phenomenal window and door product offerings in aluminum-clad,
vinyl-clad, all-vinyl and even still offers an all-wood window.
Weather Shield is still a little under the radar compared to
companies like Andersen, Pella and the Jeld-Wen companies
because they don?t spend the mega-millions on advertising. They
sink their millions into product innovation via R&D. As
building codes continue to become more and stringent on windows
and doors (which affects builders and homeowners alike), we feel
Weather Shield is leading the way in providing products that
will handle these tougher requirements while not compromising
the style and beauty the customer desires. We are excited to
continue to grow with Weather Shield and we look to expand into
other markets in the future, as the opportunities present
themselves as is recently the case in Asheville.
B/A: Like most WNC
firms, The Hardwood Company has been riding the crest of the
region?s homebuilding wave for quite some time. Do you expect
this trend to continue? What?s your business ?forecast? for the
next 12 ? 18 months?
We are optimistic. We all rode a real nice wave for several
years and perhaps the wave hasn?t been as large or strong over
the last 18 months, however, we are upbeat about the prospects
for those of us in the building industry. Folks continue to
have the desire to own their own home and they want what they
want. Certainly the events of 911, the pull back in the stock
market and the recent war caused the country to pull back to
some degree, but we feel that pull back was probably coming
anyway?so we weren?t shocked. There still seems to be a sense
of ?nesting? going on among baby boomers and that need to
?nest,? we believe will translate into continued construction of
second homes, summer homes, etc. in our WNC area. We really
continue to pursue this upper end segment of the new
construction market and therefore, we are forecasting sustained
growth over the course of this year and look for even more
robust growth going into 2005 and beyond.
makes The Hardwood Company distinctive? What separates you
from your competition?
DKB: First of all, we are not a big box
store (i.e., if Lowe?s or Home Depot sells it, we typically
don?t), nor are we a building supply. We sell fine, quality
products at competitive prices. We offer unfinished hardwood
flooring from strip (2 ??) to plank up to 11? wide in some
species. We install, sand and finish all of our flooring. We
carry a full line of prefinished flooring (floating, laminate
and engineered). We have the ability to source about any
species of wood you can imagine in our unfinished flooring line,
interior door lines, as well as stock and custom mouldings. We
also have the expertise to manufacture and install raised panel
rooms (such as libraries, offices and studies) and do other
specialized custom millwork (such as custom front-entry systems,
We pride ourselves on being a family run
organization that still believes in the value of an
old-fashioned, down-home work ethic. Our staff is extremely
knowledgeable and experienced. We have an Architect Specialist
on staff, a certified flooring manager with over 25 years
experience, as well as a full-time Service Technician (who is
also a licensed contractor) on staff. We believe if we take
care of the customer and do what we say we are going to do when
we say we are going to do it, we will be distinctive and
successful. People want to be able to count on you and know
they can trust what you are telling them about the products you
sell, the lead times of those products and ultimately the timely
delivery of those products. Those characteristics add value to
what the consumer is buying and we feel make us special. Our
business philosophy is pretty basic as a matter of fact. It
actually comes from the Bible and is quite simply the Golden
Rule: ?Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.?
This philosophy is not only good for business, but for life as a
whole in my opinion.
B/A: The Hardwood Company has
been a loyal advertiser in Builder/Architect for many years?as a
display advertiser and Special Feature. What does the magazine
do to earn your support?
DKB: It?s really about Bob Kays. Bob
makes Builder/Architect magazine. He is extremely well
respected and well thought of in the WNC area. We feel
Builder/Architect gets us an audience with the Architect and
Builder community quicker than any other form of media we could
use. The magazine is well read and widely distributed and will
continue to be a mainstay in our advertising budget from year to
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