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Lumber Liquidators unveils sustainability website


Just a couple of days after elevating Ray Cotton to SVP, chief compliance and sustainability officer, Lumber Liquidators has launched a new section of its website dedicated to sustainability.

The original content is rooted in the company's "Lay It Forward" business strategy, which according to the company, centers on the long-term benefits of quality hardwood flooring, protecting the environment and supporting the communities it serves.

"Lumber Liquidators aims to be the industry leader in sustainability because it's good for the environment, and because it's good for the future of our business," said Robert M. Lynch, president and CEO. "Delivering top-quality hardwood floors for less requires us to be lean, efficient and sustainable in everything we do. We do this by minimizing our energy and land use; having an efficient supply chain; working with credible and trustworthy suppliers; avoiding waste; and investing in, and protecting, the long-term health of the forests, farms and responsible plantations that are the lifeblood of our business."

"At Lumber Liquidators, we've focused not simply on compliance with the applicable laws, but on what we can and should do as a company to protect the environment above and beyond those laws. Admittedly, we've been more focused on our sustainability efforts than communicating broadly about them. The new online content is designed, in part, to enable our communications to catch up with our sustainability initiatives," added Cotton.

Highlights of the new sustainability content include:

  • DNA testing: The company is currently working with Double Helix Tracking Technologies, industry experts in DNA testing of harvested wood and finished timber products, to develop its own industry-leading testing program to identify wood species and origins.

  • Wood species audits: The company, using its own auditing teams and those of independent third parties, conducts a 100% review of every "high-risk" species that is used. In such instances, a detailed analysis of every purchase order and permit is conducted, with each piece checked through the entire chain of custody.

  • Training: The company’s training efforts include on-site training at international locations, online training and vendor seminars, with approximately 40 companies in attendance in China alone in both 2013 and 2014.

  • Increased North American sourcing: The company continues to diversify its product mix toward geographic regions with high regulatory oversight and away from regions considered to have lower oversight. As part of its ongoing vertical integration strategy that is placing logging, milling and retail operations geographically closer to its operations, more wood is being sourced from North America, which in turn, will translate into more North American jobs as well as even more control of the wood supply chain and oversight of harvesting permits. For example, in 2007 Lumber Liquidators sourced about 18% of its wood from South America. In 2013, South America's contribution was around 7% and it is expected to fall to 1% or less in coming years.

A little more than a year ago, Lumber Liquidators was investigated by federal authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in relation to the importation of certain wood flooring products. The company issued a statement in late September last year stating that it “takes its sourcing and compliance very seriously, and is cooperating with authorities to provide them with requested information.”

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