By Jonathan Pleasant
Any good business has to be able to adapt and change with demand. Through the dramatic economic shifts of the past few years many companies have faltered or failed altogether, especially those having anything to do with the housing market. Yet a few have been versatile enough to take advantage of what opportunities are still available and have not only remained viable but have actually grown. This is the story of Jones Hardwood Flooring, a business that has called Johnson County home from its inception and which has worked hard to build a strong reputation for quality products that are shipped nationwide and beyond.
Jones Hardwood Flooring officially began back in 1998 when Johnny Bauguess and his business partner and nephew, Greg Jones, bought the company from Gregs father, Harold Jones. At the time, the companys focus was mainly on installation and finishing. The flooring itself was all coming in from distributors and nothing was made in house. Much of the flooring was narrow strips ranging between 2 ¼ inches to 3 ¼ inches, and most of the demand was for gymnasium floors in schools.
According to Bauguess, jobs were being taken all up and down the east coast from the Maryland border to Florida. Even now the company still replaces or installs gym floors, albeit in much smaller numbers and all relatively local. Changing with the times, demand now calls for mostly wide plank flooring and even with the housing bust starting back in 2008, Bauguess has been working hard to provide increasingly better products to meet the growing orders.
Over the past few years the company has grown to begin its own manufacturing process, opening up a plant in the Johnson County Industrial Park in Doe Valley and now up to nearly 20 employees in total. Purchasing wood from local yards in Trade and the surrounding counties of Western North Carolina, Jones Hardwood Flooring operates their own dry kiln and pretty much handles every step of the process from rough boards to finished flooring.
In fact, the only thing that the company still regularly sends off for are engineered and pre-finished products, and even in those scenarios Bauguess explained that it is their own rough finished materials that are being treated. We manufacture just about everything we install, Bauguess said. Its been about four years since we started manufacturing and so far were having probably the best year since 2008. We were buying select flooring in wide widths but it all came in short lengths. The customers kept complaining and thats when I wanted to go into manufacturing.
Whereas most customers were looking for longer lengths because of ease of installation and cosmetic appeal, most of the distributors were sending material only one to three feet long. The problem came from the fact that many companies were trying to save money by getting only the best wood out of lower grade logs. Making the leap to supply their own flooring, Jones now has the capability to offer a much wider range of products as well, including the most popular recent development, reclaimed lumber.
Considering how aged, weathered, and worm eaten the board are initially, most people would not consider the lumber from old barns and houses as the top selling source for flooring in million dollar homes but that is exactly the case. With a little work and finishing, this much-used wood becomes a true work of art, with each board having its own little unique qualities. Used in everything from commercial restaurants to rustic cabins and to high end hunting lodges, reclaimed lumber has been the hot product of the past couple years and Bauguess has been very busy as a result.
We ship a lot of reclaimed to Cape Cod, Massachusetts right now, Bauguess said. We get orders every week from them. We ship to the west coast, even to the west coast of Canada. We send to California, Texas, Lake Tahoe, and a lot of the high-end areas especially with the reclaimed. Most of the reclaimed goes into million dollar homes and is the most popular that we ship. We do some local reclaimed. We started a job today in the Grandfather Country Club but its all really high-end houses. A lot of it comes off local barns, some out of beams we rip, some we buy from a reclaim company. If we can find a barn or an old house, we get it. Thats why its a big deal in Canada. They have all the natural resources, all the timber, but theyre looking for the reclaimed.
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By Jonathan Pleasant