By Michael Buckley
A couple of hours drive out of Guangzhou in the small town of Banfu, is the substantial plant of Zhongshan New Oasis Wood Industry Co. Ltd., essentially a flooring company that is diversified in many respects and member of the larger Susfor-Oasis Wood (Zhongshan) Co., Ltd group, which also operates overseas forest resources.
American oak veneer being laid up
Manufacturing both solid wood and engineered flooring, the New Oasis plant in Banfu draws hardwood species from all over the world, including American red and white oak, walnut, hard maple, elm, ash and hickory. The company also produces flooring from species as far afield as Brazil, such as Ipe and from local species like Chinese ‘teak’; though not tectona grandis.
Marketing is also diversified with about 55 per cent of sales made domestically all over China by an army of sales staff through retail outlets and directly to developers in China’s hungry property market. The balance 45 per cent is shipped to a diverse range of as many as 30 international markets, particularly Australia, India and the Middle East and USA, but with current targets also in Europe and elsewhere. The parent group is engaged in manufacturing building products such as doors, stairs and cabinets, maintaining marketing offices in USA, Europe and the United Arab Emirates.
The flooring production itself represents diversity with a great choice of finishes in several series with many colours, including hand-scraped, distressed and brushed surfaces in narrow and wide boards as well as custom and standard parquet panels.
The company, now quoted on the Hong Kong stock exchange (Stock Code: HK-00692), is about 16 years old and situated on a spacious site in the town itself. That facilitates relatively easy recruitment for the current establishment of 400 workers and 200 administrative and sales staff. Working in three shifts, the company produces both to order and for its extensive stocks to respond rapidly to “just in time” business in the Chinese market.
A unique business model
James Ho, Sales director responsible for international sales and widely travelled, graduated from Guangzhou University in international trade and is proud of his eight years with the company being determined to take it forward in export markets. That is somewhat against the trend of many other Chinese flooring companies now concentrating only on domestic sales.
Product development is central to the company’s programme, such as the contoured profile flooring which it introduced to the Domotex Shanghai flooring show some years ago, having pioneered “curved surface” flooring as a means of reducing deforming and arching when encountering damp. Working to CE standards, the company has received many awards and is FSC certified.
New Oasis says in its sales pitch “Curved hard maple flooring is a key product, matching many kinds of furniture and is used to create a bright, cheerful, and elegant ambiance. Black stain is trendy. Maple can also be stained with rich colours – black, yellow, grey-brown and more. Dark colours are still trendy in China. Oak hardwood flooring comes in various colours and almost fits any decoration scheme and elm hardwood flooring is a superb alternative to oak.”
The unique processing in tongue and grooved (T&G) can prevent maple flooring from deforming and arching when damp is encountered. Curved black walnut and oak flooring is a high-tech product which has won Gold Prizes at the 7th and 9th Patent Technology Exhibition of new products in China.
Offering variety and choices
Flooring production is heavily slanted towards engineered, including some laminate flooring, which is the leading wood flooring type demanded in China. That necessitates an extensive use of veneer in different thicknesses according to the products.
Nevertheless New Oasis also buys large quantities of solid lumber, much of it in fixed sizes. Procurement by the Purchasing Department tends to be from landed stocks in the markets in China; although some sawn lumber and logs are sourced direct from overseas suppliers. The Banfu plant has kilns in house for its own lumber imports.
The solid flooring is considered a luxury item in China says James Ho, “preferred by the more wealthy customers and developers of luxury real estate.”
The showroom of New Oasis is impressive and so is the warren of fully furnished showrooms where developers are able to choose flooring designs and a complete system of coordinated interiors, including doors. It was noticeable in this part of Southern China that light colours, majoring on white, are very much in vogue if these showrooms are anything to go by.
In addition to many types of flooring Oasis manufactures outdoor decking. It has had more than 20 different series of products over time, with 300 kinds of individual products and a world-wide curved flooring production technology patented with independent intellectual property rights. The company is open to new trading partners.
This article was first published in Wood Purchasing News, Memphis, TN.