The Brit bringing Chinese wood to Israeli homes.
What happens when you mix a Brit, the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy Hotel in the Maldives, and popsicle sticks? You get Imondi, the provider of reclaimed wood flooring for clients across the world – and now in Israel.
Imondi, founded by Robin Dell in the early 2000s, has debuted in the Holy Land after partnering with Avney Tal and Noni's Gallery, whose Tel Aviv emporium is one of the foremost interior design showrooms in the country.
But why Israel? And how did Imondi, a preferred retailer to the likes of Starbucks and Ralph Lauren, become the global success story it is today?
The answer lies in its founder's tireless endeavors – with a few mishaps along the way.
Born in London in 1976, Robin Dell attended the city's prestigious Westminster School before attending the London School of Economics and the SDA Bucconi School of Management. But it was on an exchange program in Shanghai in 1999 during his master's studies that Dell realized the possibilities of the China connection.
He recalls Shanghai in the 1990s as being very different from the thriving 21st-century international hub that it is now.
"I clearly remember on my first day in Shanghai that a mother walking down the street pointed at me and gesticulated to her daughter, saying, 'There's a white guy there!'"
Now Shanghai, formerly more of a closed, provincial area, is home to one of the largest expat communities in the world, and the buzz of the metropolis has kept the entrepreneurial Brit busy in the city up until now. He was involved in a variety of ventures ranging from medical products to popsicle sticks, but it was only when he began working with a client back home in London that his attention turned to the rich business possibilities of wood flooring.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Imondi is now the largest manufacturer of reclaimed wood flooring in Asia. The firm recently finished work at its 1,000th Starbucks store in Asia, and other notable clients include the Louis Vuitton hotel in the Maldives, the restaurants of renowned chef Jamie Oliver, Diesel Jeans, and Ralph Lauren in Asia.
The heart of Imondi's success is the impressive quality of its four main collections, with each celebrating the place where it comes from. The American Salvaged Collection, for example, references the history of early American logging and wood building.
"The wood in the American collection originates from the early 19th century," Dell relates. "The story is that back in those days, there was no machinery around, no infrastructure. The loggers would go into the forest, cut the trees down by hand, tie the logs to a horse, and drag the logs to the river.
"The lumberjack marked each log with his personal stamp and floated it down the river in an age where sawmills were solely powered by water. The logs were collected by the sawmill and cut into lumber.
"In this period of early American settlers, when a new family arrived in the village it was common for the entire village to come together and help that family build their barn." Dell suggested that "this community building was vital for these pioneering inhabitants in much the same way that it was for the early Zionists."
Why did Imondi choose to enter Israel and forge a partnership with Avney Tal and Noni's Gallery?
Dell explains that the Jewish state's business model is one that actively pursues creating relationships with China and other global hubs. In his eyes, "Israel is one of top 10 architectural hubs globally, so for us it's a really important market to be in."
As for Avney Tal and Noni's Gallery, it specializes in dressing homes in a diverse variety of ways from the best, highest-quality and most up-to-date materials available in the building and design world today.
For Dell, entering into the Israel market marks a major milestone for the company, and one that he cannot quite believe himself experiencing. He has come a long way; his earliest memories of Israel include a visit here as a boy, fighting with his father to stay just a few more minutes in the pool of the King David Hotel.
From Shanghai to London and Tel Aviv, it seems Dell is on a roll, and Imondi is likely to continue to enjoy strong growth.
For more information about Imondi: www.imondi.com; more on Avney Tal and Noni's Gallery: www.avney-tal.co.il/.
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(c) 2016 The Jerusalem Post Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers