Q&A: Joel Bartlett of DECKadence Marine Flooring

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — From a distance, it looks like carpeting; up close it looks like fuzzy no-slip matting. In practice, it’s a combination of both: a non-slip deck cover for boats.

The product, made by Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based DECKadence Marine Flooring, is an anti-slip boat deck covering that doesn’t retain water. It’s the creation of Joel Bartlett, who calls himself the founder, inventor, director of development and COO for DECKadence. His wife, attorney Suzanne Weiss, takes care of the corporate end. They call the product DECKadence Marine Flooring, or DMF for short. Its proprietary backing is called Ribbit-Grip.

The company has fewer than 30 employees, but Bartlett says the sales network is rapidly growing throughout the U.S. and Canada and will soon expand to Europe.

Boating Industry: What is the genesis of this company and your product?
Joel Bartlett: “I conceived the company after I invented the product. I started in 2005 in the development stages, and then as I perfected the product the natural progression and success dictated that a company be born. I came up with not-so-creative name of “Boat Deck Cover” and my wife said, ‘No way … it’s got to be DECKadence’ and the name stuck. The frog logo represents the way our product grips to the deck (with a vinyl bubble mesh we call Ribbit-Grip) as well as the transformation it took to get us where we are today. I have a background in international business development, as well as mechanical and electrical engineering education, so I’m a perfect storm for innovation. I also have boating fever. We’ve already filed for two patents on the DECKadence Marine Products last year.”

BI: Tell us about the development process:
JB: “Many new products require years of development, time, effort and setback. DECKadence was no exception. The material on the surface had to be reengineered, softened and arranged to drain. UV stabilizers had to be increased and antimicrobial composites incorporated to get it right. Then the backing had to be redeveloped to meet the needs of the marine applications mainly to be able to drain, grip and sustain.”

BI: Why a flooring product?
JB: “There’s a huge void between carpet and hard coverings and we fill that void. DECKadence is as durable as PVC because it is PV and as soft as a plush carpet without the yucky carpet part. There’s nothing like our product on the market to date. As far back as I can remember I’ve always recognized the potential for a fast-drying, marine-rated nonslip un-carpet anti-fatigue type of deck coving. No one likes standing on a wet, moldy carpet and the next step up from there became what’s known now as imitation teak, and that’s too hard to and too hot to even stand on in direct sunlight. If PVC teak and carpet got together and had an offspring, it would look like DECKadence.”

BI: What is your distribution process — any growing pains?
JB: “I developed a product years ago that took off so fast I sold more than I could supply. It turned out to be a nightmare on a multitude of levels. I kept this in mind for this roll-out. Our distribution process is prepared to offer goods to our dealers fabricated or rolled. We will proceed with caution and focus on the marine trade related aftermarket industries first to get ‘wet behind the ears’ and then go forward. We have multiple fabrication facilities and stock in the East Coast, West Coast and Central U.S. as well as BC Canada. Consumers drive the sales and we want to be able to provide for all. OEMs are being approached this year but again with caution — we don’t want to take away the opportunity for the guys that already have a boat.”

BI: What is your strategy for 2011?
JB: “In a nutshell stay focused and don’t grow too big too fast, service who you take on to the best of our ability and prepare to service the entire industry. National ad campaigns won’t take place until end of 2012, OEMs are in our ‘cross hairs’ but we are not approaching most at this time.”

BI: How are you educating consumers about your product?
JB: The Internet remains the single most instrumental tool we utilize for educating consumers. We have videos and a wealth of information on our website.”

BI: And your marketing strategy?
JB: “This year we’re getting the kinks out; however, word of mouth is already spreading like wildfire and to date we have not placed one ad for the consumer. We want to be prepared to service everyone’s needs in a timely and professional manner and we are preparing to do so.”

BI: What new products are on the horizon?
JB: “Innovation is second nature to me. On the horizon you will see our all-new swim platform coverings, and dock covering alternatives as well as a low-profile version of our already popular DECKadence covering product.”

One comment

  1. I am interested in purchasing DECKadence flooring for my new boat. I want to install it myself. I live in Colorado. I know Pauls Custom Canvas carries the product, but I would like to buy it from a distributor and not from a retailer to keep my cost down. Where is the closest manufacturing facility that I can order this product from directly.

    Jerome Folse

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