About: Mike Mann - V.P. International Sales
Focusing on Sports floors was an area where we knew we could really make a difference.An area we have a lot of knowledge being a fourth generation, family owned company.
1. Is there a personal affinity towards sports behind Action Floor Systems’ longstanding alliance with the Sports Venue sector?
Focusing on Sports floors was an area where we knew we could really make a difference.An area we have a lot of knowledge being a fourth generation, family owned company. A continued focus of building on this knowledge by providing safe and performance tested products for everyone.Our success comes from combining our love of Sports with our Passion for gym floors. We have a saying around here; the only bad day is a day without Sports.
2. How do you administer a network of clientele as enormous as yours, especially with a geographical dispersion across six continents?
This process was made easier with the advances in technology such as Skype, instant messaging and other platforms allowing us to be in constant communication anywhere in the world, in real time. We have implemented a similarbusiness modelwe use in North America while being sensitive and flexible to the different geographical regions and cultures. This is a strategy that employs Regional Sales Managers whocultivate and work directly with Dealers on a local level.This model has allowed us to provide a high level of support for the globe without sacrificing our principles to quality, value and education.
3. What was the strategic implementation behind making your most popular product, Action Nitropanel portable floor system, both durable as well as cost-effective?
Our industry hadn’t taken a serious look at the construction of portable gym floors in sometime and was the inspiration behind our initiative for the Nitropanel system. Wechallenged our R&D division to re-invent the portable floor. For many months the team met with owners, players, event personnel and many others to create a list of issues and problems they regularly encountered. This list would serve as our road map and solving these issues would be how we measure success.The result, a world class, portablegym floor that sets a standardfor our industry and the 21st century.
Some of the many improvements that were introduced were the use of upgraded attaching hardware. 16 ga. steel is now the standard and engineered to attach in multiple locations todistribute the swinging forces/loads over the entire panel which reduces pivot assembly stresses andincreasing reliability during assembly and disassembly. Engineered lumberis now standard in the construct of the subfloor system that the hard maple flooring is attached to. This simple change away from using a soft wood such as Spruce, Pine or Fir now ensured we would eliminate twisted or warped panels which would affect the panel’s ability for alignmentand flatness. Weight was another issue; our panel given the many changes and improvements was now also the lightest panel of any MFMA member mill offering. This translated into big savings of both time and money as a smaller crew of 4 or 5 could now assemble or disassemble a typicalfloor in a couple of hours or less and reducing the chances of injury. Finally, CNC machines are used in the production of the panels. This equipment allows us to control costs and maintain the exacting tolerancesrequired for a floor system of this kind. There are so many more improvements; we really have changed the world with our Nitropanel.
4. Are there specific steps taken to enhance the time-efficiency of your Modular sports floor systems, Action Quickcourt Series, especially with pertinence to its assembly /dismantling? How versatile are these surfaces?
This is a very versatile product and one of the reasons we added this line. There was a need in the marketplace for a product that could be used for both indoors and outdoors that had an attractive price point, our Quick Court System filled this need. At the manufacturing facility we assemble individual tiles into sheets of 1.2m X 2.4m to reduce installation times. Individual tiles are snapped together with the same ease as that of joining lego’s. Tiles can then be reconfigured to meet a specific sport or event requirement.
5. Permeating the superiority of your American maple wooden surfaces into the domestic sector, how has the response been from the home flooring vertical?
We couldn’t be happier with the response we’ve received to date. This is a knowledgeable and sophisticated market segment which demands the highest of quality and durability. We expect continued growth and over time expect it to become a much larger part of our business. We couldn’t be more excited about the future!
6. Action Floor Systems is an upholder of sustainability and environmental conservation. Could you elucidate your process of developing and designing such recyclable as well as environment-friendly products?
Being good stewards of our resources is in our DNA and has been for over 25 years. It is this very culture that has led us to fully integrate our entire process which first starts with the logs we receive. Unlike many other industries which clear cut the forests, we receive only selective cut logs which better maintains our forest lands and has proven to increase the availability by over 10% year over year.As demand grows for Northern Hard Maple our valuable resource is growing even faster.
Our manufacturing facility is strategically located nearest the forest lands where we receive the logs. This reduces the fuel and carbon emissions generated by heavy trucks which transport the lumber for processing. Wood is hygroscopic and a recently felled tree could be up to 60% moisture content and when compared to our finished product which has a moisture content of 5 ½ - 7%, that’s a LOT of water to transport.
The efficiencies and sustainability don’t end there as our state of the art manufacturing facility is designed to make the most out of our resources. For example, Computers are used to maximize yield and reduce waste by reading each board before cutting. Our wood fired boiler uses saw dust to generate the energy needed to dry the lumber for processing and heating the facility. We use about 40% for our facility needs and then the balance is sold to other companies in the production of new products. The boiler uses two scrubbers to remove dust and particulates that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere making it very environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Action Floors Systems R&D division uses the latest science and engineering principles to create the highest performing products that are sustainable with the least amount of environmental impact.
7. Was it a pivotal moment for Action Floor Systems when it was accredited by the University of Wisconsin and granted the Carbon Negative Certification?
Tom Abendroth, owner of Action Floors stated it best “Achieving a carbon negative footprint has been the Holy Grail for many manufacturers, and through our conservation and reforestation efforts, wehave actually attained a carbon negative standing. It is an extraordinary achievement.”
“Carbon footprint” refers to the net sum of carbon waste in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2)released into the atmosphere through all of an entity’s activities. These include raw materialacquisition, transportation, manufacturing processes, energy usage, waste and emissionmanagement and other factors. An overall negative carbon footprint can be achieved bycritically assessing and reversing all carbon waste associated, either directly or indirectly, withall activities, and taking steps to offset carbon emissions through forestry replenishment andnew growth.
Receiving this Certificate was a mile stone for us. To be recognized in this way validates our efforts and supports the goal of always improving. There is a better way to do business!
8. Kindly delineate your recent experience of honouring wounded Veterans at an NBA game held in Milwaukee.
The cost of war is so very highwith many service people returning home injured. The Wounded Warriors organization brings attention to these issues and provides the neededhelp in the transition. So when an opportunity arose that Action could combine our love of Sports with giving back to our community, we jumped at the chance. It was a special night for sure that everyone will remember for some time. TheLA Lakers came to play what would be retiring, future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant’s last game in the arena. Theses warriors are selfless, giving and brave individuals. Their service to our country is so important and they all deserve our respect and gratitude.”
9. Could you shed some light on your future ventures and products which are still in the formative stages?
Action Floors R&D division is fully staffed with a focus on identifying new products and materials while utilizing the latest science and engineering principles. While I won’t go into any specific details on products under development, I can say our industry is quite sophisticated and will require continued research to keep pace with the ever changing industry.
10. You’ve been a valuable client for Sports Venue-Technology portal since 2009. How has this association benefited your commercial and market growth?
Partnering with Sports Venue-Technology has proven to be a real asset allowing us to reach many more people, companies and organizations that we would otherwise have had the opportunity to. The ability to have a platform where we can share industry news, explain new product offerings and increase our brand awareness has played a large part in our success. We look forward to continuing this relationship for many, many years to come.