Teak is an eco-friendly design choice by default due to the material’s all-weather durability, making it a timeless investment. Indy caught up with Mal Haddad, vice president of Westminster Teak, who oversees all new product development and design for Westminster. The company’s products are featured at Gurney’s Resorts in Montauk, and it has clientele worldwide.
How did you get into the business?
I joined Westminster Teak about 12 years ago when our paths, the owner of the company and I, crossed while I was running my own teak furniture gallery. Sharing the same vision and work ethic, it made sense to make the switch after we got to know each other a little better. Though I come from both an engineering and business background, I’ve always been passionate about design, and having the factory as the backbone of the company brought me even closer to my motivations in bringing good design within reach of more people.
How did you connect with Gurney’s Resorts?
We’ve provided them with some of their outdoor and spa/poolside furniture in the past and still do. I believe the owner and CEO of Westminster Teak, Jim TenBroeck visited and had the opportunity to meet with the area manager at Gurney’s. We make it a point to ensure that our customers’ needs are met, not only at the point of sale, but to continue serving them in any after-sales services they may need. Providing a quality and long-lasting product does come with the responsibility of establishing relationships that are just as long lasting. It’s all about building relationships.
Who is your ideal client/consumer?
Whether they be an individual or a commercial account, it is all about the person enjoying the furniture, both in its form, aesthetics, and function. There is no one “ideal” customer but the best of our customers are the ones who understand craftsmanship, the value of good design, and how it enhances the experience of the space the furniture is placed in.
You have so many different collections on your website. What ties them together?
Timeless design and our unrelenting commitment to quality has been the “tying factor” and hallmark in our furniture collections. By default, timeless design is good design. And, it can only come from being passionate with every detail of the craft, from concept to completion. Since teak is a material that lasts a very long time, the furniture design should project a sense of permanence. It should resonate the idea of form and function, and how we live with the furniture, cherished over generations. Good design should be as relevant now as it was 50 years ago, and 50 years from now, long after trends are forgotten.
How often do you add in new pieces or retire styles?
We hardly retire our designs and add only after considerable work has been done in designing a product that is relevant to our line of offering. Some of our items have been around since we started the company 21 years ago and still remain as popular now as they were then.
How does teak, as a material, compare to other furniture types?
Product knowledge is key in understanding the investment value proposition a beautifully crafted piece of teak furniture brings. Unlike many other hardwoods in its category, teak is a durable hardwood with dense grain and high natural oil content — qualities that afford it little or no care. It’s the material of choice for its sheer beauty and dependability. Its high oil and silica content make it highly resistant to rotting, warping, or splitting, allowing it to withstand the extremities of weather including sun, rain, and snow.
For these unique properties in its strength and stability, teak has been for centuries, and still is, the enduring material used in ship building, and of course, furniture making.
What’s the maintenance on teak?
Because of its high resistance to the extremities of weather, teak truly needs very little care. Untreated, natural teak will weather to a handsome soft-silvery patina within a year or so, depending on the amount of sun and weathering it is being exposed to. This will not in any way compromise the structural integrity of your furniture, as the change of pigment is only on the surface. The rate of weathering is dependent on the climate and extremities of the weather in your area.
What are your eco-friendly practices?
Plantation teak is the essential raw material, we are by default a green company. Today, we are both SVLK and FSC certified, ensuring transparency and traceability of the origins of the wood used in our furniture. As a company that supports the global green movement, we believe it is not only critical as a manufacturer to be environmentally responsible by using teak from sustainably harvested plantations, but also to be socially responsible toward both the indigenous people working in the plantations as well as the skilled artisans and employees working in our factories.
All the teak used in the manufacture of furniture are from sustainably harvested, credibly certified plantations under the strict management of the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. Our factory was the first to join Nusa Hijau, the Indonesian Chapter of the Global Forest Trade Network, an initiative of World Wildlife Fund.
What is the ideal setup for a backyard patio on a personal property?
There really is no ideal set up since style, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. However, any setup outdoors, a couple of rockers or Adirondacks, a dining set, or deep-seating lounge furniture that allows for family and friends to gather, sharing great conversations and laughter, is always perfect style.
See the company’s full list of products at www.westminsterteak.com.Independent/Courtesy Westminster Teak