Brand AMP Spotlight: Eureka™ MDF from CalPlant™

Are true discoveries a thing of the past? Not when all it takes is one person—and the dream of a better world—to break ground on something new. And that’s exactly what happened with Jerry Uhland, rice straw, and medium-density fiberboard (MDF).

Uhland took rice straw, a wasted byproduct of the rice harvest process, and developed a sustainable, high-demand product. MDF is typically made from traditional wood—but Uhland and his business partner, Jim Boyd, found another way to make MDF that performed just as well as the MDF the industry has relied on for years.

The Challenge

The road to manufacturing post-harvest rice straw-based MDF was a long and difficult one for Uhland and his team, operating for years under CalAg, LLC. Despite many setbacks and interruptions to vital investment funding due to fluctuating market conditions, the company emerged as CalPlant™. It secured a patent for post-harvest rice straw-based MDF and funded the construction of a manufacturing plant. After years spent facing down and overcoming adversity and obstacles, they were now in marketing mode—and that’s where GS&F came in.

Our task was to build CalPlant’s brand from the ground up, concepting, and implementing everything from a new look and feel to brand messaging and other touchpoints. We also worked to name, launch, and market their first product. Unique to this project was the additional challenge of ensuring that CalPlant, the parent company, and its only product aligned visually but could also stand alone. Inspired by CalPlant’s story and revolutionary product, our teams prepared CalPlant to share Jerry Uhland’s extraordinary vision.

The Solution

Alongside key stakeholders at CalPlant, we began our proprietary Brand AMP process with an open conversation about the journey to post-harvest rice straw-based MDF. Uhland and Boyd’s original game plan was to develop a rice-based MDF that was engineered to perform equal to or better than traditional wood MDF. We worked to go beyond this differentiation to leverage CalPlant’s brand authenticity—where their audience’s desires and the brand’s offerings meet.

CalPlant’s inspiring story gave us a chance to leverage what the brand already stood for: ingenuity, creativity, and breaking the mold. To put language to those characteristics we got to know CalPlant, its audiences, and the MDF industry. A couple of important details rose above the rest: CalPlant’s dedication to creating innovative alternative building materials and their product’s naturally outstanding performance. From there we crafted brand messaging and positioning that would allow CalPlant to stand out, tell their inspirational story, and influence their audience.

And then it was time to name the star of the show—post-harvest rice straw-based MDF. Using what we discovered during the Brand AMP process we generated over 350 names in 11 categories, along with descriptor line options, attempting to capture the category-changing nature of the product.

After trying a few different approaches and exploring many options, we landed on EUREKA™ Sustainable High-Performance MDF. The name captured the triumphant spirit of Jerry Uhland’s journey and did justice to the breakthrough, revolutionary nature of the product itself.

With a new name and an amplified brand, we were ready to launch CalPlant—and Eureka—into the world, starting with a new website that aligned with the brand’s revamped look, feel and messaging. A complete stationery suite and product literature sheet followed, and direct mail pieces and sample kits are in the works. Earned media opportunities also offer chances to spread the word.

We continue to work in lock-step with leadership at CalPlant to establish and execute a strong marketing strategy to launch Eureka to various industries that depend on MDF. We lean on our fully integrated approach to develop our strategy from creative to public relations and more. Ultimately, Eureka will pursue market share in the western United States with plans to expand nationwide.

With much more to come, we’re eager to establish Eureka, available in 2021, as a leading MDF product in the industry.

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