29 Aug Part II: Cork 2011-Style
WE Cork demonstrates that “Eco” also stands for economics
They have said it themselves: The newest line from WE Cork is the “Eco”-Nomical series. So when they mention that it is made of recycled wine stoppers, remember that this is not the thrust.
All cork flooring is made from the waste of the wine-stopper industry. When bark is harvested from the Evergreen Cork Oak Trees – about every nine years – the first thing that happens is the punching out of wine stoppers. The leftovers are then ground up and made into other items, including flooring.
“The manufacturing process of the Eco line does not differ,” says Sheila Furtney, WE Cork sales manager. “The stoppers are not actually all from used stoppers, but rather the stoppers that did not make the grade.”
What introducing this line has allowed WE Cork to do is offer a lower-priced, quality product that competes with other brands already offering that price point.
“It is just good business practice to have a line that comes at a better price point and allows people to get into a reliable cork floor, when they otherwise would not be able to afford one,” says Mark Buckwold, commercial sales manager for Wanke Cascade, a Portland, OR-based distributor that supplies WE Cork to retailers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska.
The Eco line is less costly to produce because it is about a millimeter thinner than the rest of WE Cork’s flooring, which is 7/16ths of an inch thick, Furtney says. Eco still is finished with Greenshield – WE Cork’s water-based, aluminum oxide, no-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) finish. And it carries the same 20-year residential warranty as the rest of WE Cork’s floors.
“The Eco WE Cork line offers four different colors, all of which have distinctive chunks of cork laid into the surface that look similar to wine stoppers,” says Sam Snow, owner, coincidentally, of “Eco”Floors in Portland. “It takes the cork away from the bulletin board look, but still looks very natural and corky.”
In Snow’s market, he can offer the Eco line for $4 to $5 a square foot, compared to his price for the rest of the WE Cork line, which ranges from $8 to $10.
Much of what is out there for a retail price of $4 a square foot is the bulletin-board look, or it’s from a company that cannot tout WE Cork’s track record.
So, there may very well be a third meaning for the word “Eco”— just plain smart.©
— Nancy Kibbee is editor at naturalinteriors.com.