Synthetic teak: interview with Federico Falchieri of Flexiteek Italia
Aesthetics, long-lastingness and performance. These are the strengths of synthetic teak from Flexiteek Italia, a leading company in this fast-growing sector that, since 2000, has been coating boats with a durable and sustainable synthetic teak, characterized by excellent aesthetics and high performance, in all environmental conditions.
We met with Federico Falchieri, importer and installer of the prestigious brand, to take stock of market trends, new trends, but also to talk about this innovative material that, fortunately more and more as the years go by, proves its quality and reliability.
Federico, your company is the leader in Italy in this segment, what market share do you have?
We have a market share of about 70%. Last year, in 2022, we did 16 thousand square meters of which the most, about 80%, for powerboats, 20% for sailboats, basically reflecting the distribution of sales between these two types of boats of which, moreover, the size is increasing. Today many more boats from 40 feet and up are being sold. The whole market in general has risen in size.
What are the most representative shipyards that come to you?
There are many. Pardo, Grand Soleil, VanDutch, Capelli, Formenti, Azimut just to name a few, but also a large number of smaller and artisanal realities, such as Aurea and Silent Yacht for which we are working on a wonderful electric-powered catamaran for which our synthetic teak is also a sustainable choice.
Let’s talk about laying and machining processes. We have seen a general modernization of processes, how is your work evolving technologically?
Indeed, technology is making great strides, and there are many automatisms that we use for example for measurement surveys, but since ours is a high-quality product, we also like to continue with hand-made surveys, boat by boat, thus following the custom market and doing a custom service.
It is the small details and our experience that still make the difference.
We prepare the decks in our Passo Segni (BO) facility, but we have also opened a larger facility in Forlì where we can take on more projects at the same time, including large boats, and where 8 other people work, thermo-welding and preparing the decks.
Talking about the laying instead, once the bottom is prepared, we glue the rest, devoting the right amount of time to this work to get a perfect result.
We use the vacuum technique, for which we have a patent related to the grooved bottom of the material, which, in addition to identifying us, is very effective because it allows a greater grip of the glue and a better escape of air.
Your synthetic teak is called Flexiteek 2G, which are its main strengths?
Our synthetic teak is famous for being the lightest and the one that heats the least in the sun but, for me, it is also the most beautiful, which is why it is chosen by the best shipyards. It also holds several patents, such as the one that makes it easier to lay that we talked about just now, but also a very important one, the one for heat dissipation.
Furthermore, it is highly sustainable, and that is crucial today. It is recyclable and it does not cause deforestation of forests, which, in addition to its obvious contribution to global warming, is an activity that promotes child labor and the arms market, all consequences of the wicked use of real wood.
Let’s come to the market, which has certainly given and is giving positive signals, are they reflected in your company as well?
The market is still growing, in the first 3 months of 2023 we have already sold 5 thousand square meters, compared to last year’s total of 16 thousand. We aim to exceed 18 thousand. To support this growing demand we have a large warehouse, where we always stock a large amount of square meters of material, a nice asset in this historical context, where it is very difficult to get raw material.
This is also why more and more shipyards are relying on us.
In fact, we have grown percentage-wise more than the market average, the 2022 turnover was more than double that of 2019, a great growth in just 4 years’.
Flexiteek is increasingly being used in boat interiors, how important is this phenomenon?
It still affects little, but it is definitely growing. Flexiteek for interiors is important because modern boats are more open than in the past.
The boundaries between interiors and exteriors tend to disappear, so the aesthetic continuity that synthetic teak allows becomes significant. Our product is also used for areas or accessories that get very dirty, such as tables outside for example thus eliminating moisture problems forever. Our synthetic teak also has the characteristic of having a significant grip even when the boat is wet, and this is a great advantage in terms of safety.
Absolutely encouraging data-I guess you are looking forward enthusiastically to the future?
Absolutely yes, we are very proud of our work and of collaborating with all our customers in this small but great revolution of ours, I am sure that the results will continue to be seen in the near future.
This article is also available in: German