By Taylor Boyd
Ten Oaks, LLC in Stuart is seeing an increase in product demand because of the United States housing boom.
The company started creating residential strip and plank flooring at its current location on Progress Drive in 2006 after buying the factory from the Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Company in 2004.
Terri Birkett, vice-president of sales, said the plant had woodworking infrastructure like boilers and dry kilns.
“We said maybe that was our sign to get back into the flooring business,” she said.
Birkett said the company developed its six-side seal moisture barrier product to prevent it from being in direct competition with Stuart Flooring, and “so that everybody could keep their jobs.”
Ten Oaks differentiates itself from other companies by putting a patented moisture barrier seal on all sides of the product. The seal helps prevent the flooring from molding, mildewing, and moving around so much because of seasonal cracks.
The seal “slows down the movement because it slows down moisture absorption,” she said.
Jean-Pierre “J.P.” Thabeh, vice-president of operations, said the six-side seals is the company’s most valued product.
Ten Oaks is the only company in the world “that applies a coating on all six faces of the wood to have a better quality long-term,” he said.
Birkett added the six-side seal flooring has the same life expectancy to that of the home in which it is installed.
From start to finish, it usually takes around six months for the flooring to be completed.
“It does not dry as well in the winter months. These are the good drying months right now. So, you could potentially get lumber dried quicker and get them in the dry kiln and out of the dry kiln during these months than you can during the winter,” Birkett said.
Three truckloads of product are made each day, and three or more trucks are shipped daily.
“Sometimes, we’ll do 20 trucks a week, which is more than we’re making but that’s kind of the way it’s been for the last year. It’s going out the door as fast as we can make it,” Birkett said, adding that Ten Oaks receives truckloads of lumber – 80 percent of it comes from Virginia.
To expand its raw materials processing capabilities to increase production, Ten Oaks purchased the former Stuart Flooring facility in the Dobyns area in 2018, after Shaw Industries/Shaw Floors closed the plant the previous year.
Because of the active housing market, Birkett said the company started a second shift at the end of April to help meet the demand.
“What we did was we actually brought the crew that was working at the Dobyns plant over here, and revamped and started second shift,” she said.
Birkett said the current plan is to increase production through December with extra people until the ProLam line at the Dobyns location is installed.
“We are hiring with the intent of pushing part of those people to go back to” the Dobyns location, which will be making “truck flooring for van trailers and it’s narrow flooring that’s laminated together.”
Ten Oaks also has a lot of its products used for remodeling.
“So, we sell to both new house construction and remodeling,” Thabeh said.
The company hopes to hire 25 people to add to its current 170 employee roster to help with the growing demand.
“These aren’t just entry positions, they’ll be some operators and technical people because the more scanners and things like that we use the more computer-based equipment that we have that we need people who know how to work a computer,” Birkett said.
Unlike many companies, Ten Oaks does not have production contracts with other companies.
“We don’t do contracts, but we have regular customers that depend on us as their supplier, and we depend on them as our customers. In the flooring business, both the supply side and the raw materials is based on long-term relationships, so that’s a real important part of the business,” she said.
While most of the company’s customers are on the East Coast, they also ship their products to the Mid-West and out West.
Birkett said the company does not waste its lumber. Pieces that are too short or too skinny to be used in flooring are packaged and run through a parquet or a herringbone.
“People glue those down into patterns, and so we cut them all the same length and they have grooves on both ends, and then they can make a herringbone pattern, or a lock pattern, or a brick pattern,” she said.
“All of our residues are either sold to an industry that recycles them into another product, or we use them for kiln drying fuel,” Thabeh said.
To apply, interest parties may visit the company and ask for an application. A high-school diploma or equivalent is required encouraged.
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a continuing series of stories about Patrick County’s manufacturing sector.)