Some products sell themselves but the best products are those that consistently meet shifting changes in legislation, trends and end user demands.

Wood panels are ubiquitous in their presence on construction sites and building projects. This means that for the merchant there is always a sales opportunity in this market segment. Yet innovations in such a commodity sector help to really set the competition apart.

The European Union Timber Regulation has swung the spotlight firmly on all wood based products. The effect so far seems to be that both merchants and end users are requesting home-grown and European timber products, in an effort to avoid these issues. Therefore locally produced panels are not only a solution for the merchant when it comes to procurement and sales, but also carry added appeal for the end user too.

Stocking panels that combine this with project-matched performance enables merchants to meet the expectations of as wide an audience as possible. For general-purpose projects Medite Trade is a new MDF panel that offers a lower density panel, which can be used in most dry conditions. It is suitable for furniture, cabinetry and fit-out projects. Merchant staff can sell-on the benefit that lower densities result in less wear on tools too, making cutting easier and quicker.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) technology is evolving in response to market drivers too. European harmonisation under the Construction Products Regulations is a positive advance for the sector. With this comes a need to meet tougher administrative and process demands on the way panels are handled and documented. Tropical plywood imports, with no documentation, no proof of legality and low levels of quality, have for years threatened the environmental soundness of timber specification. The legislation is helping to remove this threat from the market.

OSB offers a reliable alternative. End users seeking availability, speed and convenience from their panels will find this in ToughPly, the general builder’s board. It enables roofing, boarding and sheathing to be achieved quickly, while the double-sided sanded and finished surface provides a fair face that can be painted directly.

While it is easy to sell commodity products, by ensuring the latest innovations are available to end users, merchant sales staff can engage customers and help support their projects with new opportunities.

George Watson is product manager for Medite MDF and SmartPly OSB.