BAMBOO FLOORING SUPPLIERS & INSTALLERS PERTH, WA – THE BAMBOOZLE STORY
We believe that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Hence, we value that the process is just as important as the result.
It is this belief that helped grow a company with no money, no product, no premises and no existing credibility to become one of Australia’s most respected suppliers and installers of timber & bamboo flooring.
Founder and Managing Director
Learn more about Bamboozle
Coming from a horticultural background, the founder of Bamboozle (Mark Hutchison) had spent years researching renewable timber options suitable for building a sustainable timber industry. The problem was that there was no clear demand for such a concept, because at that time the construction industry had little interest in such things. Thankfully, however, as we saw in a new millennium, a global consciousness developed and modern homeowners started looking for sustainable options to traditional favourites. A call was put out for eco-friendly flooring materials as an alternative to conventional timbers and so Mark decided to take it up.
Other quick growing species were certainly available to do the job, but they were too soft for flooring in Australia, considering our harder wearing lifestyles. Bamboo was another option and had already been used in other parts of the world for flooring, but was simply just not available yet in Australia. This seemed to be the answer, but the only question remaining was whether it would match the style and tastes of our more discerning homeowners here. It turned out bamboo was precisely what was needed – an eco-friendly floor that not only looked amazing, but also stood up to wear and tear – something everyone involved could feel good about.
Yet bamboo was not as easy to work with as timber, as far more processes were involved in the manufacturing of something round into something that had to stay flat in changing climates. This is where Mark’s scientific background came into it to work out the fundamentals of bamboo and innovate the product to make it work for Australia.
What made matters worse is that this seemed to be the accepted norm for the flooring industry. Customers were paying high prices and yet being subjected to sub-standard products being installed by unaccountable tradespeople.
It was these loose ethical business practices that Mark preferred to distance himself from. Mark opted out of the partnership early, choosing to walk away from the life savings he had invested instead of continuing to operate while knowing what was truly going on behind the scenes.
It seemed a shame though that a product with such potential could become wasted opportunity like this. So Mark decided he’d have a crack at it on his own and continue what he started, but this time with a completely fresh approach to take the gamble out of natural flooring for the end user.
At only twenty-four years of age, with limited life experience and no capital, Mark started Bamboozle, inspired to go against the grain of the industry simply by doing right by homeowners and deliver something they could be proud to live on.
Bamboozle would go on to compete against the very company that he had previously helped to build. Except, now with insight as to what not to do, it made it easier for Mark to keep focused on what was right by striving to serve his customers well and treat them with the respect they deserve – at all times. That would become the theme that would follow through in all aspects of the Bamboozle experience: To be fair to everyone.
Bamboozle (initially called It’s Bamboo) soon launched out of the family room of a rental property in Manning, with nothing more than a family computer, a swag of bamboo samples and a passion to give the people what they want.
Similarly, as a family owned and orientated company we can appreciate how hard homeowners work to achieve what they have. This is why we give greater attention to what we refer to as the “value equation” – a fair exchange between the product and service we deliver and what our customers invest in us. Tailoring our products and service to our customers’ needs only seemed like the fair thing to do.
It was this that sparked a high degree of innovation within the business from the start. Mark realised that Bamboozle had to be different to everything else on the market to exist. Bamboozle had to be different in a way that would benefit the customer. In an effort to do so, Bamboozle was the first to offer an in-home flooring presentation, the first to promote the hardwearing style bamboo and the prefinished options, and to have a bamboo only showroom. By looking openly at every problem and uncertainty in the industry, a solution to combat each was soon discovered. The business is a manifestation of all these individual solutions that are geared around customer satisfaction. These innovations have contributed to the success of Bamboozle today.
Likewise, this approach to fairness also changed how our factory staff were to be treated. There were two choices on how to approach the industry with this new product – to try and compete on price or compete on quality and value. We already knew that when the people who manufacture your product do not feel respected that they are prone to cutting corners. If we were to negotiate the cheapest price with them it wouldn’t be consistent with the rest of the company, as the value that the customer received would be diminished. So we made sure the factory workers were paid fairly and enjoyed their jobs in an effort to improve their standard of living. As such, we refused to work with state owned enterprises and only trade with family owned factories. Even though this means we pay more to manufacture our boards, we are still in a stronger position overall because everyone benefits and is happy.
Back in the office, it was also recognised that Bamboozle staff spend more time at work than they do with their families. So to enrich the lives of all concerned, employees are deliberately selected on the criteria that they are able to contribute to the harmonious working environment of Bamboozle, where people are valued and are emotionally safe. Paying everyone fairly simply encourages a sustainable cycle for everyone.
We also recognised that this was a similar shortfall for decent tradesmen. They weren’t organised, paid well or treated fairly. So by paying our tradesmen on time, paying them well and providing lots of work for them, helped to break into a positive cycle. They know that they are valued and as such, the detail of installation that resulted with Bamboozle is what would normally only be found in fine furniture making.
This resulted in a great deal of distress for our customers and meant that the affected floors had to be sanded and polishing to correct the issue and make the floors flat again.
We are proud to have been able to honour every warranty we had placed on each floor. And it almost bought the company to its knees. It was obvious that a negative trend was already set, so if something didn’t change then our survival was at stake.
The rest of the industry has always been adamant that this problem is only due to moisture in the concrete slab – and they usually insist a moisture barrier is put down first, or the floor is floated on a foam underlay to solve the problem. What we were experiencing, however, was that this just didn’t help. Although some slabs do require a moisture barrier, this was not why the floors were cupping, because they still continued to do so even with barriers applied. A classic case was our original showroom floor – which cupped only months after being installed, even though there was no measurable moisture in the slab.
A long scientific process eventually narrowed the problem down to the manufacturing of the board. The structure of the board itself was fundamentally flawed because a solid compressed piece of bamboo isn’t suitable for Australia’s extreme conditions.
So in conjunction with our partner factory, Bamboozle developed a new product called Bamwood® to solve these problems. This involved a number of patented steps in the manufacturing process that have now proven to be essential in making bamboo flooring suitable for Australian conditions.
We have never sold that earlier technology since, because we are well aware of the distress it causes all involved.
Bamboozle bamboo has fast become the best-selling bamboo flooring in Perth, making the Bamboozle brand the largest supplier in Australia. The product is in high demand and we are constantly fulfilling higher and higher expectations. With a company expansion to include timber flooring, our timber flooring company, Lifewood (www.lifewood.com.au) has become the major company in our group, and is now the distributor of the Bamboozle flooring product. We are still extremely sensitive to customers’ needs and have made it our personal mandate to ensure that all of our customers receive a good experience. As such Lifewood is constantly refining its systems, procedures and products to suit, while installers and staff are also required to be considerate of customers’ needs by offering first class service at all times. The General Manager of the company even goes out and personally inspects any issues with the floors if they arise.
We have taken on full time quality assurance staff in the factories to oversee production, employed a dedicated installation supervisor to save customers the hassle of coordinating installation, we have developed our own installation training school, our own Lifewood delivery drivers and a glue scientist to maintain and monitor the longevity of the boards.
Everything has been brought in-house in order to ensure the customer’s experience is consistent. To ensure Bamboozle bamboo flooring always exceeds the customers’ expectations, we offer a complete package – a start-to-finish service, all managed and delivered by our own team. Most other flooring companies still remain as simple retailers, who sell a wholesale product and refer customers to independent installers to fit the floors.
Lifewood’s staff are not only handpicked, but also scientifically assessed on not only on how well they can perform their role, but on how well they will treat their customers. They are all required to be fundamentally good people. Bamboozle flooring is underpinned by the fact that the staff enhance the lives of their customers, who are surveyed every time to ensure their satisfaction, and we thrive on it.
All of this is why the Bamboozle brand has become the people’s choice for bamboo flooring.
The whole Lifewood entity is now recognised and identified, locally and abroad, as the best practice for bamboo and timber flooring in the world.
Over 6,500 happy customers and counting …
Jane & Dave, Applecross
Monica & Steve, City Beach
Kimberly & John, North Perth