Natural Building Solutions
Finds Success with New
Flooring & Coatings Choices

It took a special type of entrepreneur to decide that 2009
would be a good year to become a building materials dealer, and it turned out that there were at least two such guys in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With a combined 40 years experience selling to the building materials trade, John Allen and Sam Muffoleto turned to the green side when they opened Natural Building Solutions in late 2009.

As long-time industry veterans, the green building market intrigued them. “We were looking to get into the building materials market with something new and unique other than the the usual mix of drywall, lumber, and the everyday commodities,” Muffoleto explained. “We noticed there wasn't any green distribution here, and there was no one to educate people on which quality performing products might be best for green building,” Muffoleto noted.

Their first storefront opened in Fayetteville in December, 2009. Within two years, the company was ready to expand into permanent quarters in nearby Rogers, Arkansas. The new location is in a century-old building that features over 14,000 square feet divided between warehouse, showroom, offices, and a training room, with plenty of additional square footage currently unused in the basement.

The NBS inventory mix accommodates both the pro and the consumer with sustainable choices in lumber, insulation, plumbing fixtures, ICFs, building wrap, flooring, wall finishes, coatings and adhesives, and flooring.  “I'd say the majority of our business has come from homebuilders and general contractors so far,” said Muffoleto. There's also some educational business. “The University of Arkansas has a facility here that is supporting a lot of LEED projects,” he said, “and we're starting to see more and more of those come out of the ground on their campus.”

On the builder side, NBS is the only FSC certified retail dealer in the state. “We have plywood, dimensional lumber, anywhere from your A grades down to the D grades in plywood and OSB sheathing,” said Muffoleto. “We sell companies that work with nothing but veneers, and we supply their bamboo veneers. We are looking to offer more cabinet grade plywood and substrates than we currently do.” He'd also like to find more products that could satisfy the demand for formaldehyde free MDFs and similar substrates for use in making cabinets.

To date, paint has been more of a consumer product here, and NBS cites Mythic's Black Label as one of the best products he has seen in the past year. “Their Black Label, with the primer and paint in one, is totally off the charts in terms of its scrub rating, hide, and durability,” said Muffoleto. “The coverage has been really great. We've had clients come back and say, ‘I got close to 500 square feet out of that gallon.' We've heard that from other customers, too. People tell us that it's the best paint they've ever used,” he stated. “Customers who bought it here continue to come back for more. 

There is a down-side, unfortunately. “It is much more expensive than a Sherwin Williams paint; we've had a couple contractors who weren't able to justify the price difference,” said Muffoleto. “But sit down and do the math. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the spread rate makes it a good buy.”

NBS has become known for other coating-related options such as soy-based paint and adhesive removers from Franmar Chemical. “We have a guy from Oklahoma who's been stripping and refinishing furniture for years, and he'll drive up  here to buy a couple cases of the paint stripper to take back with him. He tells us that it's the best stuff he's ever used, and he feels a lot better at the end of the day for using it.”

Flooring is a big part of the inventory mix at NWS, with options that include reclaimed hardwood, cork, and bamboo materials. But Muffoleto reserves his highest praise for an engineered flooring line the company added in 2011. “The neatest new product we've taken on in the past year is Forbo Marmoleum,” he declared. “It's a line that we had looked at earlier, but after getting a few more requests for it we studied it a bit harder. It's just an amazing product.”

According to Muffoleto, Natural Building Solutions will continue seeking out amazing products. “We're always looking for new avenues, different products and different ways to continue to grow and expand the business.” •  479-631-7800

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