Industry Q&A: SmartPlank Combines Hardwood and Technology
SmartPlank, a Brookfield, Wis.-based wood flooring company that was founded in the first quarter of this year, has announced that it will start producing engineered hardwood flooring with a built-in sensor to track changes in temperature and relative humidity. We spoke with Tim Flagstad, director of marketing, about the new company and its range of products.
What is your background in the industry? How did this company get its start?
A: “I have a background of 40 years in floor coverings, primarily in the distribution end of things. I’m in business with Tim Schmidt; he has a very successful large contracting business in Wisconsin called Schmidt Custom Floors. Tim and I have known each other for a very long time. We started discussing the hardwood flooring industry and how we feel like it’s gotten a little bit tired. After exchanging ideas, we felt that SmartPlank would be something interesting and innovative for the industry.”
How did you and Tim Schmidt come up with the idea of embedding sensors into the flooring itself?
A: “The idea came together organically. We started having weekly meetings regarding our ideas, and right about the holidays last year, we decided that this was an idea we were going to take to market. From there, we devised a three-pronged marketing strategy.
“The first prong is we’re a high-quality, American-made hardwood product. With the growing WPC/LVP market, we feel like the hardwood segment is shrinking and that there is going to be a real push for higher-end hardwood floors coming. That’s where we’ve positioned ourselves, with a high-quality, engineered product.
“The second prong is that we’ve created unlimited options. All of our products are made to order. People will be able to go to our website and build their own floor online, then print out the specifications of what they’ve chosen. We have three thicknesses available. We have all sawn-face veneer surfaces that are multiple-sandable. We have 10 species including some exotics, and rift and quartered red and white oak. There are 31 standard colors available, and custom color is no extra charge. Widths are available from 3 to 8 in. The finishes are offered in four gloss levels, with wire-brush and hand-scrape. We also have a design center for high-end, design-oriented firms that really want to cater to their clients.
“The third prong is technology, in the form of the in-floor data logger embedded in the floor. When you get a floor from us, it’s going to have a sensor on the bottom side of one of the planks. There are no wires. What that sensor does is monitor the humidity and temperature from the underside of the floor and it also takes readings of the subfloor below. That data gets recorded and fed to the end-user’s smart device through our free SmartPlank app. If the environmental conditions get out of the acceptable range, the app will send a push notification to the end-user so they can make modifications before the floor becomes permanently damaged.
“The sensor also stores all of those readings indefinitely, so if an issue arises, the historical data is all retrievable. You can go back and piece together what issues may have been occurring. This provides protection not just for the consumer but the contractor.”
Is there anything else you want to add?
A: “We’re very different from what everyone else is doing. Typically in our industry, in the 40 years I’ve been around, you go to a customer in the fall, bring 20 samples to them and say ‘Hey, these colors are the hottest thing, you should put them in your rack.’ Then you come back in the spring, take those 20 samples and throw them in the dumpster, and bring them another 20. We are excited to have a different way of doing business.
“The product is manufactured here in Wisconsin. The facility has been around itself since 2000. It’s a fully automated, humidity-controlled plant. We would put our products up against anybody else’s engineered products.”
For more information, visit smart-plank.com or call (844) 476-2787.