Knowing when to change course is a key component to success for any business. Mountain Top Floors provides a great example of a company with the keen insight to know when to refocus the direction of its business.
Mountain Top Floors, a company based in Naperville, Illinois, began in 2015, suppling wholesalers (such as Home Depot) with hardwood flooring. However, it was growing harder to make a good profit margin due to heavy antidumping duty on wood floor related products. So, in 2018 they changed course. Now they source logs and provide related supply chain solutions to their customers from North America to China and other Asian countries. It was a good move, too. Their total export volume was approximately 4,200 forty-foot containers of logs and lumber in 2019.
Mountain Top sources logs and lumber that customers are in need of, and they utilize fellow NHLA members to get the job done. Their suppliers are from all over the U.S. and their export covers major U.S. and Canada ports and rail ramps.
Mountain Top Floors has an interesting concept when it comes to helping others understand what they do. They call it TAAS, “Trading As A Service.” They define TAAS through connecting and delivering by sourcing the type of logs and lumber that are needed from North America, then they connect the goods to customers through their expanded network in China and other Asian countries. At the same time, with the help of logistic suppliers, they ensure goods are delivered to customers in a safe and timely manner. Once the goods have arrived at their destination, Mountain Top also provides assistance in customs clearance and inland trucking.
Like other NHLA members, COVID-19 disrupted their business, making it an unusual year. Buyers in China slowed down during the first quarter when the outbreak was limited to China. However, when the virus turned into a worldwide pandemic, the whole supply chain was affected.
Tomoko Kato, a manager for Mountain Top Floors told us of the struggle, “Some log yards were closed due to lockdown, some terminals and ports had limited access. It was a challenging time. That being said, we were fortunate to have trusting customers and we were surprised to discover that our export volume in the first two quarters of 2020 grew 50 percent compared to the same period from the prior year. Forwarders, ocean carriers, truckers, and fumigators were also supportive. They stayed informed, resilient, and above all, strong. Many logs and lumber suppliers had skeleton crews during this time but managed to keep the workflow extremely efficient. They communicated with us and adjusted the work schedule to fit our needs. We are very grateful to them. Overall, we believe that COVID 19 has forced many of us to revisit our business model, make it further evolve; plus, it provided a much different perspective for the future, in which flexibility and resilience will be essential.”
Kato continues, “Being a member of NHLA plays an important role for us because of the networking opportunities membership provides. We heard about NHLA through salespeople who work with NHLA members, so joining was natural for us. We want to build a strong network so when a crisis like COVID-19 arises, we can make it through, remain calm, and help each other. It is our honor to be in the prestigious network of NHLA. Our membership gives us a perfect channel to implement TAAS as mentioned above. Our goal this year is to have a total volume of 10,000 forty-foot containers of logs and lumber combined.”