Industry veteran joins poly lumber brand Artifex to bring it outdoors

With so many different materials able to be used in outdoor spaces, it’s impossible to reinvent the wheel. But that doesn’t mean people won’t try.

However, it’s those who are realistic and business savvy who succeed, and oftentimes they are selling a product that’s been in the industry for years — like poly lumber.

Such is the case for Artifex, a company that before recently wasn’t even in the outdoor category. Its ability to make HDPE poly lumber brought it into the casual industry, and it hired industry veteran Steve Baut — formerly of Three Birds Casual — as vice president of sales and marketing. 

Based in New Holland, Pennsylvania, the company is preparing to exhibit for the first time at the Casual Market in Atlanta this July, and Baut has spent the past five months teaching them everything he could about the outdoor industry. 

“It’s amazing how things have changed in such a short amount of time, “he says. Because they weren’t familiar with outdoor, they found out very quickly that there is an opportunity for increased growth. They just didn’t understand it because they’ve always dealt with fencing, pergolas, decking and railing in the past.

Baut’s years of industry experience means he’s aware of the reach and legacy of poly lumber suppliers in the industry, and that means things have to be done a bit differently at Artifex. 

“Our core belief is providing our retailers and consumers with a high-touch environment when it comes to the company and its customers,” Baut says. “We believe that by taking the extra time, utilizing better construction methods and providing a detailed approach to each product, that this conveys to our customers that our product sets a standard.”

He explains that the company is able to customize products in a way that appeals to customers — like adding two tones to a chair or delivering a piece fully assembled. These small touches that take care of the customer come back to benefit the company, Baut says.

“We provide great programs at landed cost, and we want to make sure it’s easy because at the end of the day Americans take the path of least resistance,” he explains. “So by us being high-touch, we want to make sure that the entire process is easy for everyone from the retailer down to the end consumer.”

He offers the analogy of how people like their coffee. Some like it with cream and sugar and others order a grande caramel latte with three espresso shots and Twix bar. In the same way, dealers need different product for different consumers, and that’s what Artifex aims to offer. 

However, while he says it is easy to do in any industry, Artifex is not comparing itself to other poly companies. Instead, it’s finding its own place in the industry. 

“Our main competition will always be in front of the mirror,” Baut says. “By holding each member accountable to the overall success of our company, it impacts our team to provide the best product on what Artifex stands for. We know that we don’t have to be perfect, but we hold purpose as the cornerstone to our growth. We are excited for the coming 2025 season.”

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