Kebur’s Director, Cliff Mosey, is responsible for sourcing all our landscaping materials, ensuring they meet our customers’ needs. Fresh back from international stone and porcelain trade fairs in Italy, and supplier visits in the UK, we asked Cliff what this work involves.
What are the main things you look for when sourcing garden materials for Kebur?
When we choose and monitor suppliers, we’re always thinking about three things.
The first is value; finding products that offer excellent value for money whilst meeting our customer’s needs. Key to this is understanding our supply chain and each product’s technical specification so that we can ensure quality is good and prices are fair. This also includes thinking about the wider impact of production. We work personally with our suppliers to monitor that timber is sustainably sourced and stone is produced under ethical working conditions and practices.
Secondly, we expect our suppliers to be reliable; this means holding good stock levels so they can be responsive to demand. In the last couple of weeks, for example, we have been talking to our fencing suppliers to make sure they have sufficient stock and manufacturing capability to cope with any severe weather this Autumn or Winter.
Finally, our aim as a company is to always offer our customers plenty of choice. We know it’s really important for landscapers and home-owners to put their own stamp on their garden project, from the design and size format of paving, to different laying methods. We are look for suppliers who can fulfil a whole range of these needs and cater for different styles and budgets.
There are so many new products on the market every year. How do you decide which are right for Kebur customers?
The main thing is constantly communicating with our customers. We always encourage feedback as it’s so important to hear how they’re finding products and what else they need. We also keep up to date with current trends by visiting trade shows and exhibitions, following the media and leading figures in garden design and landscaping.
The other thing that is unique to Kebur is that we have our own installation teams. This means we have first-hand feedback on how products are working. Being an independent business means we can respond to these ideas and demands very quickly.
How do you know if a landscaping product is good value?
Of course, like anyone, we like to get the best deals we can. However, the lowest priced materials often seem competitive but are not of an equivalent quality. When comparing prices for landscaping products, it’s worth being aware of some of the more common issues and deciding if these are things you’re prepared to compromise on. We’ve listed some of these below.
|Product||What we look out for in cheaper products||What you’ll find in Kebur’s range|
|Natural Stone patio packs||· Calibration; Non-calibrated slabs are more difficult to lay because the slabs are of different thicknesses. This can add a lot of time to a job.
· Thickness of stone; thinner stone is more likely to have breakages and can be especially tricky if you’re having to arrange replacements through an online supplier.
· Squareness of edges; unsquared edges can be found in cheaper packs of hand-cut sandstone. They can cause problems with installation, take longer to lay and result in a less professional finish.
· Colour-variation and riven finish; slabs with excessive variation or riven finish tend to be rejected from traditional patio packs and turn up in the cheaper packs imported from India.
· Packaging; with more expensive packaging likely to reduce the number of breakages, it is often worth spending a little more on well-packaged products to save time and money in the long run.
Through our close work on quality issues and striking the best deals with our natural stone suppliers, Kebur’s Trade Packs have developed a reputation for being excellent quality and value for money. Our slabs are calibrated to either 22mm or 25mm, and if you do happen to have any broken slabs in Kebur Trade Packs we will replace them straight away.
|Porcelain||· Colour body; always look to see if the colour of the design can be seen throughout the body of the tile. This can make a real difference to any exposed edges, especially if you are bullnosing them.
· Firing temperature; cheaper porcelain can be fired at the standard porcelain temperature of 1400oC, but for an insufficient length of time. Instead of an incredibly durable product, this can result in slabs cracking within a relatively short time and picture-framing because the porosity levels are too high.
· Design; though it may not be an issue for some customers, the designs on lower cost porcelains also tend to be more basic. And there can be more pattern repetitions, which may be more noticeable with bolder designs.
We source our Contempo Porcelain range from Italy and Spain, the two biggest quality porcelain producers in the world. For our Contempo Porcelain, all our tiles are full colour bodied, and some have up to 25 different tile prints for one design, creating a much more natural look when laid.
|Composite decking||Internal structure; we’re starting to hear about problems with some composite decking suppliers where the deck looks the same on the outside, but the manufacturers are saving money on materials by using a thinner wall inside the board. This reduces the life expectancy of the board and makes them more likely to move and warp in warmer weather.||
We’ve used a reputable supplier, Saige, for a number of years now. Their composite boards have a tough internal structure, something we’re not prepared to compromise on. Saige is so confident in their quality they offer a 10 year product warranty.
|Fencing||Strength; there can be a big difference in the quality of a fence panel that costs £20 compared to a £25 one. Cheaper panels may only have three or fewer vertical batons to support them and be more vulnerable in the wind.||
Our 6 foot lap panels will always have five vertical batons meaning the panel is stronger and by virtue will last longer.
What sort of changes are Kebur customers likely to see in the next six months?
We’re constantly reviewing our product range to give our customers more choice and push for higher quality at the best prices. For next year, you might see fencing panels produced with more automated (and therefore consistent) manufacturing processes, and improved quality control to remove warped or heavily knotted panels. Having seen what was on offer at the stone and ceramic shows in Italy this season, we’re also hoping to introduce some new designs to our Porcelain and Natural Stone Collection.