Canadian suppliers in a league of their own

Speaking of steady customer testimonials, Mirage, in business for more than four decades, continues to score points with its client base. This is evidenced by its long string of awards. “Retailers and other industry professionals have rated Mirage No. 1 for quality 42 times on surveys conducted by industry trade magazines,” Williams noted. (This includes the recent receipt of a 2022 FCNews Award of Excellence.) “Mirage floors has also received the prestigious Gold Trophy Award at the 2013 and 2018 Canada Awards for Excellence, and the highest honors at the Grands Prix quebecois de la qualite awards in 2012 and 2017.”

Industry awards and achievements go beyond performance, product quality and management initiatives. For instance, Mercier, which celebrated 40 years in business in 2019, in the past few years earned the highest designation for environmental compliance—the Greenguard Gold certification. “Achieving that high level of compliance tells us that we’re doing something correctly,” Bondrowski said, stressing the fact that the company sources responsibly. “It also confirms that our finishes are free from harmful chemical substances and contain no VOCs or pollutants.”

For some, however, success is determined by other metrics. As Wickham’s Rezuke explained. “To me, the thing that speaks more volumes than any kind of award is the fact that we have had loyal customers for 15, 20, 25 years. We don’t necessarily put our products out there for that type of acknowledgment. At industry shows we emphasize our presence, and we pride ourselves on the reputation we’ve earned over many years. To me, that’s more symbolic of our success.”

Indeed, longevity is a key standard by which success is often measured. That certainly holds true for companies like Lauzon, which is approaching 40 years in business. According to David Lauzon Jr., director of sales, the combination of product quality, innovation and environmental commitment has helped sustain growth and its reputation for more than three decades. “The control of the product over the entire supply chain from forest to the floor guarantees constant supply, quality and stability in pricing,” he said. He also cited innovations such as its popular Pure Genius finish and the company’s patented Expert Engineered technology—a 3⁄4-inch thick, 2-ply product with a 5.2mm wear layer that allows movement and installation on slightly uneven subfloors while reducing cupping. “It combines the rich look of solid hardwood floor with all the stability of a high-performance engineered hardwood floor,” he added.

Constantly innovating

Preverco is taking steps to become completely vertically integrated. Pictured is its Flex line, which comes in both a 2- and 3-ply format.

Regardless of their respective strengths and competitive advantages, many Canadian hardwood flooring suppliers have this in common—the constant drive to innovate and improve efficiencies. In Preverco’s case, that means making investments to become more vertically integrated and, by extension, less dependent on imported materials from other sources.

“One of our main advantages is our engineered production,” Dufresne stated, citing the company’s move toward greater automation. “We are fully integrated with our engineered production, and we have slowly been moving away from using imports of plywood for our core and shifting to pine lumber from Quebec and eastern Ontario. In fact, we are the only Canadian manufacturer that makes product using 100% local resources.”

Others are focused steadfastly on further fortifying the power of their brands. “The value we bring to our distributors and retailers is brand recognition, coupled with the lowest claims ratio in the hardwood flooring industry,” Mirage’s Williams said. “We invest in local representatives that support our distributor and retail partners and we back that up with the highest level of inventory of any hardwood manufacturer or distributor in Canada. We also invest a lot in POP displays, samples and marketing tools to support our customers in the promotion of our products. All of this combined gives a real value to our distributor and retail partners.”

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