Can you give us a little bit of background?
Arbor Forest Products is also the only UK distributor of Trex Transcend, the leading composite decking product which originates in the USA.
What is your main type of client?
Our main customers are independent builders’ merchants across the UK. But because Trex has such a wide range of applications and is suitable for both commercial and residential purposes, we have a great deal of contact with decking installers and garden designers.
What are the key elements of your offering?
Trex is the global market leader when it comes to composite decking, and its unique properties are fast making it a favourite among installers and designers in the UK. One of the biggest benefits is the fact that it’s the ultimate in low maintenance. It only requires a wash down to bring it back to its pristine best – no need for arduous treatments.
Trex Transcend is versatile, long-lasting and looks fantastic with a realistic woodgrain effect, available in six colours, from warm rich browns to silvered and grey. It’s easy to install, and can be fitted screw-free or with a traditional face fix. It’s guaranteed not to split, fade, rot or stain which is supported by a 25-year limited warranty for residential properties and a 10-year limited warranty for commercial installations.
Trex is made from 95 per cent recycled plastic and wood waste, meaning its environmental credentials are also hard to beat.
What’s the newest thing you are offering?
Earlier this year we launched our TrexPRO schem, designed to help installers grow their business and to give customers confidence in their fitters, the scheme brings a number of benefits to end users and tradespeople.
Installers can join the TrexPRO scheme for free once they have completed a Trex installation, and have undergone training provided by Trex. The landscapers, carpenters, joiners and builders who join the scheme are featured on the Trex website, which puts them in front of thousands of potential customers and helps them to generate leads in their area
How has the business changed in the last 5 years?
The biggest change has been the introduction of composite decking in 2011. As timber specialists we had good connections with merchants, so expanding into composite decking seemed like a logical step, but it was certainly not without challenges because the product was relatively unknown.
We had to reinvent the way that we sold and marketed the product, speaking directly to installers and end-users to help generate the pull-through. Now, of course, Trex is stocked in over 220 outlets nationwide, and has a dedicated customer base.
How do you perceive the market has changed in that time, too?
The decking market has transformed since the introduction of composite decking. We’ve experienced phenomenal growth of over 140 per cent which looks set to continue. There are now more competitors entering the composite decking market, particularly from China, but we are confident in the quality of the Trex products so we feel well-placed to maintain our strong position in the UK market.
Has Brexit had any implications for your business or do you expect it to?
The main impact has been the exchange rate – as a business that imports products from the EU and US that’s where we’ve felt the biggest change in trading conditions. However, it’s still very early days in the process and like every other business in the UK we’re waiting to see how Brexit plays out.
What is the typical customer experience when they buy from Arbor Forest Products?
Our direct customers – the merchants – have come to expect a certain level of service from Arbor Forest Products. That’s why we deliver products to merchants within 72 hours of them placing their order, and it’s why we developed our innovative ‘Warehouse on Wheels’ system where merchants can receive everything from Trex to carcassing to MDF, all on the same lorry.
With Trex, although we don’t sell direct to landscapers or designers, they remain an essential part of the market and we strive to offer them an enhanced level of support when it comes to Trex. Any landscapers and installers working with Trex receive telephone support on general or technical matters and marketing support in terms of brochures, samples and installation guides.
What do the next few years hold in store?
We feel that we’re very much on the right track with Trex. Our main focus for next year is to grow
the number of installers on our TrexPRO scheme. We see this as a vital means of supporting and empowering installers and landscapers who have shown a level of commitment and passion for the brand.