Cali makes its Surfaces debut
What started in 2004 as Cali Bamboo, a small manufacturer of high-quality building products made from bamboo, is today Cali Floors, a producer of a wide variety of hard surface designs, including luxury vinyl, engineered hardwood, cork and, of course, bamboo.
The company has grown significantly in recent years and was acquired by global flooring company Victoria PLC in June 2021. The UK-based company employs approximately 3,800 people at 25 locations in the UK, Europe and Australia with annual sales of approximately $1 billion. The deal has resulted in Cali’s expansion of its product offering and support for its operational infrastructure.
FCNews senior editor/digital director, Megan Salzano-Birch, spoke with Doug Jackson, president of Cali, to discuss the company’s debut on Surfaces, its continued growth and what the dealer community can expect next from the powerful brand.
Over the past four years, Cali has grown significantly, diversified its product portfolio and acquired it by an international powerhouse in flooring. What did it take to get to where you are now?
We are where we are because of relationships with great dealers. We’ve expanded a lot, but that credit goes to our dealer base and those who have the confidence in Cali to give us space on their floors. Without those relationships we will get nowhere. And that’s part of why we’re excited to be on the floor at Surfaces, with a chance to see those dealers and show them all the new stuff that’s coming.
Talk about the decision behind the acquisition and what that means for the company.
We had many, very unique suitors when we decided to put the company up for sale, and at the end of the day I don’t think we could have picked a better group to take over Cali. What Victoria PLC brings is a partner that is also active in floor covering. So it gives Cali the capital to keep growing, but more importantly, it gives us access to innovation abroad. By joining a major flooring group, we are now not only a larger company with the resources to expand, but a greater force within the flooring industry. And this is really the beginning of what Victoria wants to do in the United States.
What does this growth potential mean for your customer base?
First and foremost, we don’t want to be someone’s biggest supplier, but their best supplier. We want to preserve the small bamboo business heritage in what we do. We don’t want to become the second largest flooring company; we want to be unique. We want to be different. We want to focus on lifestyle and remain important to our customers. The last thing I think anyone wants to see Cali become is a huge flooring brand. I think the industry has had enough of that. We want it to remain special, small and important to our customer.
How do you continue to support your customer base while adding new markets?
We want to give our dealer partners a brand they can specify comfortably, a brand they can make big margins on and have a lot of fun with. A brand that offers a unique style and sets their store apart. Our limited distribution allows us to partner with the right accounts in the market and maintain an ideal supplier relationship.
Talk about your decision to appear on Surfaces for the first time in Cali history.
Really, it’s just about a small business growing up and becoming more important to our dealer base. It’s time for us to stand on the floor, side by side with our competitors on a level playing field. We went from a small bamboo company four years ago to a very conscious diversification of our offerings with a limited range of products done right.
But we’re not going to Surfaces to open a whole bunch of new dealers; that is not the intention. The intention is to better support the dealers we currently work with, while identifying some additional partners in regions where we are not yet active.
Give us a taste of what dealers can expect at the Cali booth this year.
Well, we’ve had some sort of soft launch of Cali Vinyl Legends for almost a year and I’m really excited to show the collection in its full glory and get married with Cali Vinyl Longboards, which now has new colors. We’ve had a blast with the current Longboards display and now we have a sister product in Legends side by side for a top-notch one-two punch. The new collaborative display is ready to ship from Surfaces.
From there, our Meritage engineered hardwood product will be renamed and re-displayed in a fun presentation to suit an outdoor, wine country lifestyle.
Coupled with that, you’ll see us share what we’ve been working on from a domestic manufacturing point of view. There is a new wave of opportunity in the domestic LVP market and we are excited to increase the momentum.
We continue to hear consumers who are foolproof, so we are expanding that desire and going even beyond LVP.
We will also be offering more outdoors. In this world of working from home and the California lifestyle in which we specialize, outdoor living plays a major role. So you will see us talking about decking, sod, rugs – a real opportunity. We’ve spent a lot of time looking for ways to offer our customers and partners more, even beyond the walls of their homes. It’s all very exciting.