ORLANDO – Eastman announced today that The Empire® Company, a subsidiary of Tenon Limited (NZX:TEN), will act as Eastman’s exclusive distribution partner for Perennial Wood™ decking into Lowe’s stores in New England beginning in the first quarter.

Launched today at the International Builders’ Show, Perennial Wood is real wood that has been modified to resist changes from moisture, such as shrinking, swelling and movement. It is made possible through TruLast™ Technology, Eastman’s proprietary modification process that provides a physical barrier throughout that is warranted to protect against rot, decay and movement for 25 years. Perennial Wood is three times more stable than unmodified wood, resulting in less shrinking and swelling that cause cracking, cupping and warping without sacrificing the beauty of real wood.

The potential applications for Perennial Wood are extensive. The first commercially marketed product line is Perennial Wood decking, which will initially be available in New England at approximately 100 Lowe’s stores, and select lumberyards and specialty deck dealers in the first quarter of 2012. In addition to the physical delivery and in-store management processes at Lowe’s stores, Empire will also be responsible for warehousing Perennial Wood inventory, and for optimizing inventory and SKU management on a store-by-store basis.

A primary criterion in Eastman’s selection of a distribution partner was that it could not only meet Lowe’s store performance requirements but that it could also offer superior in-store service to make the purchase process an easy and satisfying one for the customer. Empire fit the bill, according to Greg W. Nelson, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Eastman. “We wanted to add value to Perennial Wood decking by providing a much better in-store experience than one normally gets when buying a conventional decking product,” Nelson said. “Empire has extensive experience in distributing both interior and exterior trim products to large retail home center customers – a product line and customer base that require a high level of attention to merchandising, literature and other point-of-sale tools. We will be able to leverage Empire’s extensive expertise in these areas and apply it to our Perennial Wood offering. Customers can expect a clean, upscale presentation at point of sale that is user-friendly and easy to understand.”

Nelson also stressed the importance of well-trained associates – another area in which Empire has proven capability. “Getting confident answers from store personnel is a strong motivator when making a purchase decision,” he said. “If a store associate can speak intelligently about a product and make customers feel like they’re getting reliable information, they are more likely to buy that product. Sometimes, it can be the main driver in deciding on one product over another, so we’re excited to have the highly capable Empire team doing our training for us.”

Tenon Chief Operating Officer Tony Johnston said, “Tenon is proud to have worked in close co-operation with Eastman during the last four years to bring the next generation of wood to consumers and trade professionals. We are confident that the Empire team will provide an excellent level of service to Eastman and Lowe’s in the stocking, delivery and in-store merchandising of this exciting new product line.”

“We believe the market receptiveness for Perennial Wood decking into the $4 billion decking and railing market segment will be strong, and that other outdoor applications will be equally well received in the future,” he continued. “We are very excited to be associated with the introduction of this new product platform, and we will be doing our part to ensure its success in the marketplace.”

Source: Eastman Chemical Co.

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