The durapalm story
Exotic, sustainable materials have always been a passion with us here at Smith & Fong and have remained so for more than 25 years. After establishing ourselves in the bamboo world, we noticed palm, another under-valued and little understood material, and got interested. We began our initial explorations in the year 2000 and shortly after brought to market our first offerings in palm flooring and panel products. Since then we have deepened our understanding of sourcing, processing and fabricating with this beautiful and unique material.
There are vast resources in palm whether it is in Central America, Africa, the Pacific islands or South East Asia. Much good can be done in these locations creating sustainable industries, jobs and offering an alternative to cutting old growth trees that are hard to replace. We were captivated with the material and the potential and chose India to begin the next chapter in our book of palm.
The palm production cycle
Our Palm materials are gathered from plantation and other agricultural sources where we work symbiotically with the natural cycle of palm production. What do I mean by this? We work primarily with sugar and coconut palm species. The productive lifespan of a palm is typically upwards of 60 years. At this stage production of fruit/nuts diminishes below commercial practicality. This is due to the great height of the palm at this age and the greater distance moisture and nutrients must travel to reach and nourish the top of the plant. Simply put, at some point the palm is too tall and production is too low and it is time to replant. This is where we come in providing an additional revenue stream to the grower. For note, in most of South and South East Asia the average size of a plantation is less than 10 acres meaning that the vast majority of palm sourcing is done through small farmers who receive the direct revenue from the sale of their palm stems.
Processing and manufacturing
Working with palm lumber and manufacturing finished products is an evolving art and much of the road we have paved ourselves. Palm lumber looks a lot like wood but possesses some key differences that require a fresh approach. Palm, for example, is soft at its core and dense at its perimeter where a tree is densest at its core and softer towards the outside edge. To address these and other fundamental differences between palms and trees, we have developed new practices, processes and specialized equipment. This has allowed us to tap this great resource and bring to market palm plywoods, panels, veneers and flooring products of exceptional beauty and durability.
Social and environmental goals
Along with the adventure of exploring new possibilities and learning more about the world we inhabit, we must also look at what good we can create for both the people and the environments where we work. Through a deeper understanding of place and culture we work to fill the needs of the community and the land, developing programs that are both sustainable and leave a lasting positive impact. Through our website and social media outlets, we will share our experiences and progress.