Choosing the Right Vendor – Part 2

Exploring cues and clues within the website

So, it has come to our attention today that a relatively new timber decking company (established in 2019, according to ACRA) has lifted wholesale one of our project photos from our website (Softline® Merbau Decking | Nam Soon Timber Decking) and passed it off as their own on their website, without any authorisation from us.

Mixed emotions on this – while we are understandably upset about this (more on this later), but at the same time, we are flattered that this has happened. This is a testament to the good work that our company has done all these years. However, it is also disappointing to see that a young upstart in this industry has to resort to plagiarism of intellectual property in order to get their business up and running.

And since we are already on this topic, I would like to take the opportunity to dissect the website of this new company, in order to help everyone make a more informed decision in choosing the correct vendor (not only in the timber decking sector, but in every other industry). I have narrowed down to 3 main points that the end user should identify on a vendor’s website to help them determine the reliability of the vendor.

1) Using generic stock photos or photos from other vendors
2) Writing generic text
3) Does not have their own brand of timber decking products

Using Generic Stock Photos / Photos from Other Vendors
A picture speaks a thousand words. So does the pictorial content on the website. A tenured company with years of experience in the industry can easily fill their website with 100% original content and photographs, instead of resorting to plagiarism or using Google Images.

Backdrop photo skillfully extracted from our website and repurposed on their website by the offending company.

Writing Generic Text
Same as above, without original content and actual industry experience, the newbies will have to reuse content and information from other sources, as well as injecting filler texts to make up the website. Their website will feel more like a textbook than a virtual showcase of the vendor’s experience and most impressive projects. It will not be surprising to see the same pieces of information being repeated on competitors’ websites.

Self-proclaimed to be the best.

Does Not Have Their Own Brand of Products
A well-established vendor will typically have their own brands and series of products. This shows that they have a dependable supply chain and strong ties with their OEM and suppliers. This is important to know as:
1) The vendor will be less likely to tell you that the chosen stock for your project will only reach Singapore three months later upon confirmation of order.
2) More difficult for the vendor to honour their warranty for you since they do not keep their own stock.

For example, we have our own range of products unique to us, such as the ENV-Shield WPC Decking | Nam Soon Timber Decking and the ENV-Balau hardwood decking. We are also the authorised sole distributor and installer of Vetedy’s Softline® System decking in Singapore. On top of that, we have our own warehouse at Mandai Link to keep stock for timely fulfillment of orders.

I will also update this post at a later date on what transpired in regard to the plagiarism act done by the offending company.

Choosing the Right Vendor

Doing the proper research goes a long way

As a well-established and reputable institution of the local timber industry for nearly 40 years, friends and customers tend to come to us for home improvement advice. The local renovation scene is not exactly basked in glory, and thus it is very important for homeowners to do in-depth research prior to engaging any contractor.

One tip that we always share is to first find out the history of the vendor / contractor that you are interested in engaging. A good way of finding that out is to check out the ACRA business report of the company. Why? Only companies with deep roots and a consistently upheld reputation are likely to honour warranties and provide trustworthy service.

On the other hand, there might be companies that claim to have a long history in Singapore, but the dates in their ACRA business report suggests otherwise. This speak volumes about the integrity of the company, and subsequently their ability to deliver what they promised (or over-promised).

Please note that this advice is not just for timber decking only. It is applicable across every industry, including interior design and furniture. It helps ensure you choose a quality, dependable service.

Common Misperceptions

Some individuals and vendors may refer to timber decking as “flooring”, since they serve the same purpose as indoor timber flooring – for people to walk on. However, for clarity purposes, we will always draw a clear line between “flooring” and “decking”. This is because the basic principles, installation methods and the materials used differ greatly.

Several vendors in the market offer both indoor timber flooring and timber decking in their portfolio, but the consensus is that timber decking is regarded only as their “secondary” product – its purpose is to upsell the client who has already purchased their indoor flooring. This has a correlation with how much resources they can allocate towards building their overall expertise in timber decking, such as workmanship, attention to technical details and ability to upscale to more complex timber decking projects. For the same reason, this is why I do not buy Fried Hokkien Mee from a stall that also sells Char Kway Teow, Fried Oyster Egg and Fried Carrot Cake.

In comparison, Nam Soon’s primary business is in the supply and installation of timber decking, which means that our inventory, manpower and knowledge are all geared towards realising the most value out of timber decking for our clients.

Introduction to Timber Decking

What is a timber deck, and why are they a thing?
Timber deck at the front porch, as an extension from the living hall

In architecture, a timber deck is an elevated surface constructed from timber components and related hardware/accessories, and must be able to withstand the weight of several adult humans. It is typically installed outdoors, on places such as the balcony, backyard, rooftop terrace, poolside and any open spaces in general. The timber deck is built for a variety of purposes; it can serve as an extension from the house (e.g. a balcony deck), as a connecting pathway between two points (e.g. a bridge), or as a standalone platform (e.g. a pavilion deck).

Timber decking has gained popularity increasingly in recent years for the value they bring to the property, be it in terms of aesthetic value or commercial value. For one, we at Nam Soon decided to expand into the business of timber decking back then as we were inspired to share the rustic beauty and natural durability of timber decking with property owners in Singapore.

Basic Terminology Explained:
  1. Timber – an umbrella term that refers to wood that has already been processed and prepared in dimensional quantities to be used in woodworking.
  2. Wood Species – As with all living organisms, wood harvested from different types of trees are scientifically categorised by species to reflect the different properties and characteristics in them, just like how beetles, ants and flies are all different species of insects. It is imperative for end-users, builders and project managers to understand the properties of the various wood species in order to use them to the best cost advantage. Examples of wood species that are used in timber decking locally are Chengal, Merbau, Teak, Bangkirai and many more.
What are the choices?

While natural wood has long been the dominant choice in deck-building, concerns about ecological sustainability, as well as advancements in material manufacturing technology in recent years have led to the introduction of new classes of timber decking products to the market, namely the “Wood-Plastic Composite (WPC)” and “Engineered Timber”.

In coherence to our stringent criteria for procurement of materials, Nam Soon is carrying only natural hardwood and WPC decking products. Several brands of “Engineered Timber” decking have entered and left the local market, having failed to live up to their lofty expectations so far in the hot and humid climate of Singapore. This is exemplified by the numerous failed case studies we have witnessed over the years.