Cork is "green." It is 100 percent natural, sustainable, biodegradable, and recyclable. For more than a century, natural cork has proven to be one of the most resilient and durable flooring materials available.
Cork is derived from the bark of the cork oak tree, which is found primarily in countries that run along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, including Algeria, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, and Tunisia. Cork is made of water-resistant cells that separate the outer bark from the delicate interior bark.
Although the cork manufacturing industry has become more technologically advanced over the years, stripping bark remains a manual, delicate, and highly meticulous process. Cork bark is harvested from trees that are at least 24-years-old, around every nine years, during the summer when trees dehydrate and the bark becomes easier to remove. Cork bark re-grows completely with no harm to the tree. While young cork tree bark measures about 1-inch-thick, mature trees can have 8-inch thick bark. Using a long-handled hatchet, workers cut sections out of the bark. These sections are then carefully pried away from the tree. It is said the harvesting increases the cork oak trees' lifespan; some can live more than 200 years.
Cork has been an integral part of the United States since the nation's infancy. Starting in the late 18th century, cork was imported to the U.S., where it was sold to merchants' whose livelihoods depended upon the cutting of corks to be used as closures for casks, jars, and jugs.
G.W. Dodge formed the Dodge Cork Company in Berlin, N.Y. in 1871. With the onset of industrialization and western migration in the U.S., there was an increased demand for cork closures. Since Lancaster, Pa. was known as the gateway city for this migration, G.W. Dodge relocated his business there in 1876, and renamed it The Lancaster Cork Company. G.W. Dodge and his son, B.G. Dodge, went on to grow their business into the second-largest cork company in America. In 1895, Thomas Armstrong convinced B.G. Dodge to merge The Lancaster Cork Company into the Armstrong Cork Company, effectively linking the two largest cork companies in North America.
B.G. Dodge's son, Arthur B. Dodge, joined Armstrong as Plant Manager in 1913. In 1923, he decided to re-establish the Dodge name and left Armstrong to form the Dodge Cork Company. After the end of World War II, A.B. Dodge's son, Richard, joined him in the business. His other son, Arthur, Jr., came on board after the Korean conflict.
By 1962, the Dodge Cork Company was producing one million square feet of cork floor tiles per month at its Lancaster factory. The 1960's and 70's were marked by both domestic and global expansion, and sales offices were opened in New York City and Chicago. Arthur Dodge, Jr. led the expansion of international operations. By the mid 1970's, Dodge Cork employed more than 500 people worldwide. By the mid 1980's, Dodge Cork divested itself of its international operations, and it focused on its Lancaster-based production.
Arthur Dodge III assumed the position of CEO in 1989, the company grew rapidly. In January 2008, the company was renamed ECORE International. Its mission is to transform reclaimed waste into unique performance surfacing. For more than 130 years, ECORE has continued to manufacture cork as well as other sustainable products without damaging the environment. What began with harvesting the benefits of wood without harming a tree has evolved into mining waste streams for high performance raw materials.