9 Questions To Ask Your Curved Wood Panel SupplierMarch 23, 2021
During his thirty-two years in the building materials and wood industry, Roger York has helped countless architects and fabricators solve design challenges. Currently, in his fifteenth year with Kerfkore, York recommends that you carefully screen your curved wood panel supplier with these nine questions to ensure a successful engagement.
1. What Is Your Process For Working With Architects or Fabricators On A Project?
This question is important because it sets the tone for the entire engagement. If you know what to expect at each step along the way, there will be no surprises and fewer headaches.
A salesperson or representative from the supplier should be able to tell you about their company’s process for working with clients including how they determine which products are best, how they deliver solutions and how they follow up on the project after it’s completed.
“I try to keep it simple for our customers from the beginning because they’re so busy. I make sure to understand their timelines, budget, and project scope–including the bend radius– so I can find the right solutions.”
2. What Is The Right Flexible Wood Product For My Project?
Many project managers come into their projects thinking that they know exactly what they need –and that can be a mistake.
“Many people have been doing the same thing the same way for so long that they get tunnel vision about what’s out there. Like for example, they get hung up on using luan for everything. I encourage architects and fabricators to ask their suppliers what type of products would work best for their projects–ask them what’s new,” York advises. “Trust your experts because they can save you time and money.”
3. Do You Offer Sustainable Products And/Or Fire-Rated Panels?
Many projects require architects and designers to meet energy efficiency standards including LEEDS requirements.
“If you need to go green, we can do that. Many of our flexible panels are fire-rated and tested including the glue, laminate, the board – the whole thing,” says York.
4. How Tight Of A Bend Radius Can Be Achieved With The Product I’m Considering?
This is a key question when choosing the right bendable wood product. York advises that you provide specifications for the desired bend radius to your wood supplier and work with them to match to the best solution:
“We have a product to match most any bend radius. For a very severe bend radius, something in the neighborhood of 2 – 3 inches, Kerfkore is a great option. If your project is calling for 8 – 10 inch bend radius that opens up other options such as Timberflex or Flexboard.”
York also recommends that project managers clarify whether they’re doing a radius for a barrel or column bend because it impacts your materials as well.
In case you’re not familiar with this terminology, a barrel bend is a term used to describe an 8-foot x 4-foot panel, with the grooves running the 4-foot length. A column bend is a term used to describe a 4-foot x 8-foot panel, with the grooves running the 8-foot length.
5. What Types Of Applications Has This Product Been Used On Successfully? Can You Show Me Examples?
It’s always a good idea to see the products in-situ.
Ask your curved wood panel supplier to provide pictures or videos of their recent projects so you can see what can be achieved.
“We’re always sharing photos, samples, or connecting customers with each other so they can really understand what’s possible and what the final result will look like.”
6. What Are My Installation Considerations?
Understanding your installation considerations is important because they could affect your material choices and possibly your budget.
“You should ask your supplier how it will fasten to the mainframe. Ask about the details like adding biscuits at the end, and about adhesives.”
The Kerfkore team provides comprehensive support for our customers in this area because we’re not just manufacturing experts, we’re experts at troubleshooting the installation as well.
7. What Are Your Lead Times and Costs?
This is a very important question and one that you’ll want to get an honest answer on upfront.
“We are always honest because these factors can make or break a project. We count on our team to ensure that we get an accurate estimate on time and costs so we can meet customer expectations,” explains York.
Just make sure you ask about freight: “Everything we ship is FOB from the factory. We pride ourselves on getting the freight estimate right — we get within a few dollars of actual freight costs.”
8. Do You Offer Engineering Help Or Custom Solutions?
Sometimes off-the-shelf solutions just won’t cut it. Ask your supplier if they have the engineering capabilities to create custom solutions for you.
“This is usually the exception, not the rule, for our projects. But if they need us to help with engineering support, product recommendations, or the creation of an entirely unique solution, we can do it.”
9. Can I Speak To One Of Your Existing Customers?
This is an easy one. You should always ask this question so that you can make sure you’re working with someone who can deliver on their promises.
“If your potential supplier can’t find you a few happy customers for you to talk to –run the other way.”
Bonus Tip: Look At Their Shop
Part of doing your homework, says York, is taking a field trip to your potential supplier’s shop:
“I recommend visiting the shops and looking around. Is it a mess? What are the people like? Do they have the right equipment to fabricate what you’re looking for? You can tell a lot about an operation by looking at the shop.”
A reputable curved wood panel supplier should be able to fully answer these nine questions (and more!) and offer you a tour of their shop floor before you trust them with your next project.
Your Next Steps:
- Learn more about innovations in bendable wood panels by visiting our Kerfkore product page.
- Get answers to commonly-asked questions by visiting our FAQs page.
- See all of our products, Kerfkore, Timberflex, Econokore, Worklite, and Flexboard in-situ by visiting our gallery page.
- Request a sample of our flexible panel products.