Gerry Brumer of Bamboo Warehouse thinks big. His vision for how bamboo can potentially change our planet is inspiration to say the least. With this versatile resource on the brain and non-renewable resources like wood, plastics and steel off, Gerry and his company are educators first and foremost in environmentally friendly awareness.
In 2005, Gerry met with Michael Berlin, who was importing Asian antique furniture for a company he called Kipunji. Berlin proposed they utilize his already apt product sourcing skills to start a home furnishings company. Gerry agreed under the condition that it must be eco-friendly. Berlin showed Gerry a piece of bamboo he had brought back from China, and after sourcing a few suppliers, the two men hit the ground running with their idea. “We wanted to use bamboo in a different way, not just as flooring, but as a resource.”
China, Gerry tells me, has not only 1200 species of bamboo, but also the strongest, called Moso. This type of bamboo only grows in China, and naturally, it is ideal for flooring. Of course, sourcing from China also had its share of problems. Gerry soon realized that the bamboo flooring also scratched easily because the bamboo plywood’s finishing (glues, varnishing, oils) also came from China, meaning it had formaldehyde in it. It was then that Gerry conformed the Bamboo Warehouse to European standards, using formaldehyde-free European finishing products or leaving the plywood unfinished until they arrived in Montreal, leaving the company to control the level of carcinogenic components.
Also, having the ability to import the materials yet transform them locally allowed Gerry to ensure the finishing as well as custom design the product. Gerry tells me that having Bamboo Warehouse as the first company to introduce bamboo plywood to be transformed locally has really appealed to the public. Designers especially like working with bamboo for several reasons. Firstly, bamboo is new and exciting material to work with. On that same note, bamboo is also different from wood and therefore carries an exotic element appealing to many, not to mention its green chique-ness! Bamboo boards are available finished, prefinished or stained. Scratches on wood are stark and noticeable. With bamboo, a carbonization process allows the option for a lighter, more blonde hue to the boards, making scratches less conspicuous – a very attractive quality of bamboo boards indeed! Finally, designers appreciate the option of buying one rather than twenty boards at a time with Bamboo Warehouse, saving themselves and their clients from unnecessary costs.
Like Gerry, his employees are not sales representatives, but educators in the field. With so much misinformation out there, Gerry stresses the importance of awareness. “We give you the same attention and education whether you’re buying one piece or a hundred.”
When buying bamboo flooring, Gerry heeds one word of advice: “for the sake of your health, ask your bamboo retailer where their toxic finishing products come from and ask them for proof.” Most of Bamboo Warehouse’s products for example, are stamped “BONA”, an environmentally-friendly bamboo provider based in Sweden.
Understanding that nice flooring will always be more a luxury than a need, Gerry and Michael looked into other facets that compliment the sustainable benefits of bamboo.
Today, the Bamboo Warehouse is offering a wide variety of products made of bamboo see: www.bamboowarehouse.ca Gerry is so convinced of the versatility and eco-sustainability of bamboo as a resource, he predicts that within three years bamboo fibers may even replace paper money on account of the antibacterial element! “2010 is the year we get bamboo into markets no one could even imagine it being in!”