Customer Update – Gehl Flooring Supplyby Chris Sparks 1
Customer Update – Gehl Flooring Supply
Arboritec recently had the opportunity to catch up with Bob Gehl over a Gehl Flooring Supply. This company is a great example of an American dream that came true. Bob is the great-grandson of Adrien Gehl who started the business in 1928. Bob is currently at the helm of this exemplary flooring supply company out of Butler, WI. Bob, who chooses his words and work relationships carefully, had much to share during our recent visit. Bob spoke fondly of his hardworking Midwestern customer base and the resource-rich region where he operates. Though known for it's daily farms, outdoor sports, Harley Davidson, and beer and brats culture, what we observed here was the humble charm of Midwestern values. Gehl Flooring Supply isn't just a progressive company that knows its business as well as any that has been pursuing excellence for nearly a century - they are also one that truly cares about its customers.
Just curious Bob, what can you tell us about the status of air quality regulations in your area?
Wisconsin delayed lowering the volatile organic compound (VOC) regulations limits in 2012 but it looks like it is coming next year. Illinois just strengthened the regulations to limit air pollutants and improve indoor air quality for both the contractor and homeowner. I'm happy to support these changes because we now have access to innovative and durable waterborne wood floor finishes like Arboritec's with significantly lower air quality issues.
Interestingly, Bob is known to hand out free breather cartridges on occasion to customers who haven't yet made a switch to waterborne finishes. Polyurethane based solutions are known to contain toxins and even carcinogens that can build up in a body over time when not managed properly. Bob truly cares about his hardworking contractor customer base and wants them to keep walking through his doors for years. He is happy to offer waterborne finish alternatives because they don't have these health concerns.
He also offers the knowledge and support his wood floor contractor customers require to apply Arboritec's wood floor finishes flawlessly. His capable staff is very familiar with the latest application approaches. They frequently share tricks of the trade and even offer full technical training workshops and classes.
Bob introduced Arboritec to one of his best customers, Rod Lorenz over at Ralph's Hardwood Flooring, Inc of Black Creek, WI. Ralph's is the largest wood floor contractor organization working the Wisconsin market north of Milwaukee. Similar to Gehl's Flooring Supply, Ralph's Hardwood Flooring is a family business which Rod took over from his father. Having both literally grown up in the trade, Rod and Bob quickly became fast friends.
Living Room with Maple Floor Finished with Avenue Ceramic-Fortified Waterborne Finish
How long have you and Bob been collaborating to apply our ceramic-fortified waterborne finishes?
I remember the first time Bob visited me, he didn't mention any product or anything his business offered at all. He just came down to really listen to me and learn about my business. This impressed me greatly.
Bob introduced me to Arboritec in 2010. But for me, it takes me a good 18 months to determine whether a product truly has long term potential for my business. I need to see how it goes down and how it cures during all four seasons of the year. Plus, I want to have at least six months of customer feedback about how the floor finish holds up to the wear and tear of household or commercial use. I can honestly say that I've used just about all of the high-end waterborne finishes and I hadn't found one - until Bob introduced me to Arboritec's Avenue finish - that performed consistently well in all seasons.
Kitchen with Maple Floor Finished with Avenue Ceramic-Fortified Waterborne Finish
You have a significant amount of variability in temperature and humidity throughout the year up here. Did you experience any troubles with stretched white line syndrome during your various tests?
Never with your product - but yes - the humidity up here in the summertime can be brutal. I certainly ran into stretched white line syndrome with some other finish products on the market. I was also certainly open to looking for other systems after experiencing it.
We're glad we could offer up a better mousetrap. What is it that you like most about working with our ceramic fortified waterborne finishes?
Avenue is a great two component system that strikes that perfect happy medium between flowing out nicely, workability, and then a fast cure time. Given our location, we can travel 1 1/2 to 2 hours away from our shop for a job. We have a very wide service area. Being able to put down two coats in one day can save us a huge amount of time and travel expense. We love the fact that your product dries sufficiently quickly to get two coats down in a day. It allows us to work much more efficiently and reduce the total time required to complete our work.
Homeowners tend to love your finish too. We use it on just about every Brazilian cherry, maple, and exotic wood job that comes our way. Because the odor that your waterborne finish gives off is so much more tolerable than the polyurethanes, I've found many homeowners don't mind staying in some portion of their home while it cures. And I don't mind it either - so long as they don't walk on it till it cures completely. Thankfully, that's quick too!
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