Special Report: Norbord Acquisition

Special Report: Norbord Acquisition

As one of the UK’s leading engineered wood panel manufacturers, Norbord was behind a number of popular board products for flooring, panelling and roofing. Having recently become part of the West Fraser group, the Norbord name is being phased out — however its well-known brands such as SterlingOSB Zero, CaberBoard, CaberFloor and CaberWood MDF will remain.

PBM recently spoke with Marketing Manager David Connacher to discuss the change and outline what it means for merchants.

Q: Please tell us some more about West Fraser?

A: West Fraser is a diversified wood products company with more than 60 facilities in Canada, the United States and Europe. The business was founded in 1955 when three brothers — Sam, Bill and Pete Ketcham — pooled their resources to buy a small planing mill in Quesnel, British Columbia, Canada.

From responsibly-sourced and sustainably-managed forest resources, it produces timber, engineered wood (OSB, LVL, MDF, plywood, particleboard) and other products including pulp, newsprint, wood chips and renewable energy with its solutions used in construction, RMI, industrial applications, papers, tissue and box materials.

Q: Why was the acquisition a good thing for the two businesses?

A: The two companies are much aligned and share many common values, including a commitment to safety, efficient manufacturing facilities, a focus on continuous improvement and teamwork, as well as manufacturing sustainable products that are essential for a low-carbon economy.

Product development and efficient supply chains will also be at the crux of the new organisation due to the merging of experienced teams.

Q: So, other than the phasing out of the Norbord name, what has changed for your customers?

A: Norbord Europe now becomes the European arm of West Fraser following the acquisition, but the people are the same, the products are the same, the plants are the same — even the telephone number and all the mobile numbers of contacts have not changed.

There is a new name for website — www.uk.westfraser.com — but the existing brands are market-leading and hugely successful; they are well known and have been part of the UK business landscape for years, if not decades. They will remain as they are the company’s stock-in-trade — literally.

Q: What about the specific impact for the merchant sector?

A: There will be no change to our supply network and I don’t believe our merchant customers will see any tangible changes as the product brands that their customer base asks for and uses will remain — we will continue to supply the market-leading products that we always have.

Over time, the Norbord name will be phased out and replaced with West Fraser. So, regarding a changeover from one brand to the next and on the different collateral we have utilised over the years, we will work with our merchant partners to agree on what the best way to do this would be.

I would like it to be a collaborative approach and get confirmation on what our merchant partners feel works well, what their staff and customers see value in and what could be improved to get to a better customer experience.

The easier we make it for the customer at the point of purchase to select the correct product for the intended application, the better is for customer understanding and repeat purchases at the merchant.

For more information on West Fraser, the new name for Norbord Europe, go to: www.uk.westfraser.com

This article can be found in the July/ August 2021 issue of PBM.

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