Wednesday 12 February 2014

Quality, a point of view

This website constantly talks about quality products.
However, what exactly do we mean with quality I hear you asking. Often all businesses promote their products and services being of quality, high quality even, so how can you - the ultimate buyer, user - determine the things on offer really is a great and long lasting product?
We know - from experience, reading and answering many questions weekly - the trust in so-called quality offerings is waning, due to the tremendous use (and misuse) of the term itself.
So why would you trust us? We thought to show you with a few simple images. These images will also explain why we are very reluctant to stock "quality" products manufactured in China.
China_-_european_1  China_-_European_2
The first image shows you an Oak multi-layer wood-engineered board, 20mm total thickness with a 6mm solid top layer. The second images show you this board again, next to another same like board (keep with us to hear why first appearances don't always tell the whole story).
The board in the first image is a sample given to us by a rep from an European wooden flooring business. He explained this European business is working together with a manufacturer in China and due to the lower labour costs can offer it at low prices. On first sight it looks a high quality board, doesn't it?
The neighbouring board in images 2 is a cut-off from an European Oak multi-layer, manufactured in Europe (in The Netherlands to be precise). It looks awful - doesn't?
The main reason for this appearance is the fact this board has been left outside for over 7 months already and has had all kinds of weather thrown at and over it.
Price-wise, the multilayer produced in The Netherlands costs more - but this is not just due to the "higher" labour costs (seeing as how automated the manufacturing of wood-engineered floors is). It all bears down really to the quality in the manufacturing process, the quality materials used - backing, adhesive for bonding, the plants itself - and the knowledge of/in manufactuering quality products.
China_-_european_3  China_-_European_4
A closer look at the China-made product shows the backing is delaminating - imagine this happening when you've just installed your floor. Looking at the weather-worn sample - as said above, rain, snow, hail, wind and even sunshine has been thrown at it - there is nothing amiss with this board's construction even after all that time being exposed to the weather elements.
Is is quite easy to believe that "lower labour costs" is the main contributor to the low (much lower in some cases) prices of wooden flooring manufactured in China (be it on their own or in cooperation/in order of European businesses), the truth of the matter is the use, or more the lack in use of quality materials and knowledge that brings the price down. Even if products from China comply with the European Timber Regulation, it has become very hard and difficult to trust these types of low-cost offers.
And although we are just a small business, we know where we stand in quality matters. So we say a wholehearted NO to the cheaper product and continue to offer you high quality, both in materials and production methods, wood-engineered products "made in Europe", such as Hattan, Venture and Duoplank products.
Remember: the bitter taste of poor quality lingers long after the sweet taste of low price is forgotten