David Murray, MEDITE SMARTPLY’s Head of Innovation and Ireland Sales, spoke to The Hardware Journal to explain more about MEDITE SMARTPLY’s success and plans for the future.
MEDITE SMARTPLY is the market leading innovative manufacturer of sustainable timber panels, environmentally produced in Ireland. Its award-winning brands MEDITE and SMARTPLY are renowned for delivering the highest quality products through customer-led innovation and industry leading customer service in 32 countries worldwide.
MEDITE and SMARTPLY were originally two companies, eventually united by Coillte in Ireland. As Ireland’s largest sustainable forestry company, Coillte holds custody of 7% of land on the Emerald Isle—over 440,000 hectares. In uniting MEDITE and SMARTPLY, located in Clonmel and Waterford respectively, Coillte created one of Europe’s foremost producers of innovative, environmentally friendly wood panel products.
Consistent Stance on Sustainability
“There are many reasons behind MEDITE SMARTPLY’s achievements so far,” said David, “one key aspect being our ability to adapt to changing market needs and another being the
immense value we place on our dedicated local workforce.” Although MEDITE SMARTPLY may be a familiar name to those with long-reaching memories in Ireland, the company has become skilled in adapting products and services to suit its end users’ needs, while maintaining a consistent stance on sustainability and creating products that add value throughout the supply chain.
“We produce our MDF and OSB panels using chip residues from Coillte’s sawmill customers as well as small diameter pulp logs and the thinnings of fast-growing spruce and pine trees, from our own FSC and PEFC certifi ed forests, here in Ireland, so anyone using any of our panels can be confident in both the supply chain, and that they are working with a fully sustainable and renewable product.”
MEDITE SMARTPLY has led the way in the development of a diverse range of MDF and OSB panels that seek to solve contractors’ problems with simple and effective solutions, and
most recently, a colourful new image, which speaks to these qualities in each product.
“All our value-added products have an animal ‘representative’ symbolising that particular product’s special properties,” David explains, “with the exception of MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME (MTX), which speaks for itself.”
Within the value-added range is MEDITE CLEAR, the newly launched ultra-low emitting MDF, containing zero-added formaldehyde. This panel is formulated to help to preserve artefacts, improve indoor air quality and protect wellbeing, symbolised by a bee, representing the environmental aspects of this panel.
SMARTPLY PATTRESS PLUS is the pre-rebated OSB3 panel especially geared towards reducing installation time, noise, dust and excessive use of power tools on-site. With the ability to save a contractor up to 5 minutes per panel installed, PATTRESS PLUS is represented by a leopard, implying speed.
Brand new to the range, SMARTPLY STRONGDECK is the strong and lightweight OSB4 panel, allowing warehousing contractors to expand their business with industrial shelving and mezzanine floors, symbolised by a rhinoceros, demonstrating strength.
Finally, the industry leading MTX is the outdoor MDF panel with a 50-year guarantee above ground.
“Our dedicated teams have worked hard to conceptualise products that will make work safer, faster, stronger, smarter, which differentiates us from our market competitors,” said David.
“It’s these teams that make our vast product portfolio possible.” There are roughly 150 employees at the MEDITE headquarters in Clonmel and another 150 at SMARTPLY in Waterford. David reveals: “Some of the team have been working at our Irish bases since the very beginning. Most are also from the local area, having hardworking attitudes, enthusiasm and ability to adapt and to change.”
“The Ireland Sales Team consists of Devin Fallon, Technical Sales Manager- Southern Region, Jason McMullan, Technical Sales Manager- Northern Region, Harriet Heardman, our Senior Internal Sales Assistant, and myself, David Murray, Head of Innovation and Ireland Sales. We are all backed up by our Customer Service and Marketing teams supporting customers on the ground.”
Resilience and Adaptability to Changing Markets
Product differentiation and market diversification have been vital for the company. It has allowed MEDITE SMARTPLY to consistently create new, value added products that offer
something new to the end user.
David highlights: “Resilience and adaptability to changing markets over the years has been crucial. Breaking into the landscaping sector with MTX has been one big example of this. It’s a sustainably produced, environmentally friendly exterior grade MDF that enables endless creativity for outdoor projects; all qualities highly coveted by landscape designers and gardeners.
“However, what can’t be underestimated is regular dialogue with our customers and their customers which has been vital to understand their needs and a key ingredient in being able to innovate new panel solutions that are successful and preferred in the market. In this way, we also help secure our business.
“Social media has played a big role in recent years, in helping us to communicate with our end users. Good quality social media content is extremely important to connect with not only contractors, but also our distributors, and increasingly so with younger architects and specifiers who will suggest our products for larger projects.”
Committed to the Local Area
Having been established in the South-East of Ireland for most of the last 30 years, MEDITE SMARTPLY has been ingrained into local communities and initiatives. “We sponsor the local Waterford Business Awards, focusing on the innovation category as this is something we’re passionate about,” David explains. “It’s an annual award and brings together the best entrepreneurship of the local area, it also allows us to share and pass on our experiences and knowledge.”
“We also commit to a number of smaller local charities, such as the Carrick-On-Suir River Rescue near Clonmel which was one of our chosen charities last year.”
The company is committed to the local area and its development as well as having an invested interest in the whole of Ireland, something which David tells us has helped the company grow: “We as a company are only going from strength to strength right now, and this is both driven by and refl ected in our dedicated workforce, drawing mainly from a home-based talent pool. There have been changes and challenges to face, but we are lucky
enough to have a common goal and love for what we do.”
Well Equipped and Optimistic
Customer engagement continually helps the company to better understand its markets, but with something as unpredictable as Brexit on the horizon, how will MEDITE SMARTPLY adapt?
David tells us: “There are a number of ways we can overcome the potential obstacles Brexit will bring, but ultimately it is all about preparation. We are constantly looking to improve our supply and procurement operation for example. While Brexit presents its own unique challenges, our attention to detail when it comes to sourcing raw materials and supplying our product means that we feel well equipped and optimistic.
“As a company, we are always thinking and planning ahead to try and ensure that our trade with the UK, our closest neighbours and largest market, remains fluid. We will endeavour to support our UK and Northern Irish customers with stock to ensure a smooth a transition period during Brexit, whilst also continuing our high service levels south of the border.
Again, it’s all about good communication with our customers and planning for different scenarios”.
In September and October this year, MEDITE SMARTPLY will be touring the length and breadth of Ireland on a road trip visiting selected timber hardware stores and connecting with customers. Attendees will have a chance to meet with David and the team to discuss innovation, sustainability and of course, their vast array of technical and speciality products. Keep an eye on the dates and times here: www.mdfosb.com/en/on-tour