Feature Article - July/August 2005
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SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT
A Complete Guide to Sports Surfaces and Flooring

Sure Footing

By Kyle Ryan


GROUND RULES TO LIVE BY

With so many things to remember, keeping track of it all can be the biggest challenge. As you consider the options, Paige has a few guiding principles to help make the process a bit easier to handle:

1. Only work with reputable vendors. When Paige first started his company, he spent a year just researching the industry to find out who's good and who's sketchy. You'll need a company that will not only offer a good warranty but actually honor it.

"Mistakes do happen," Paige says. "Products do sometimes fail, and you want a company that's going to come back and honor their warranty."

2. Beware of untested new products. Everyone started somewhere, but for each breakthrough product out there, a few similar ones failed. The risk goes up when a product is relatively new.

"It's easy for a salesman that's only been in business two years to say, 'I've got this brand-new product. We've been using it for two years, and it's going to last 15 years,'" Paige says. "[But] nothing's better than looking at a 10-year-old product and saying, 'Yeah, that's a pretty good product.'"

Still, if something looks too good to pass up, a vendor should offer a price break if the product has yet to be tested extensively. Why should you pay full price for something that has yet to prove itself?

3. Only use skilled installers. A computer is a great tool, but without proper setup, it does nothing. Similarly, the best, most advanced sports-surface system in the world could be completely undone if installed improperly. Here, facility managers can take advantage of vertical corporate integration.

"What that means is I like to see a company that actually has their own installers on salary," Paige says. "They're not independent contractors; they actually install their own products. That vertical integration is important, and many of the top companies do have that."

4. Do your homework. Think it through from a business side. Know and prioritize your facility's needs. Give yourself plenty of time, even if it seems like too much time. Chances are you have less than you think.

SURFACE SOLUTIONS

The old days seem quaint by comparison, back when a manufacturer could use mercury and think nothing of it. Having limited options at least made the process of picking out a surface a lot easier. Outdoor track? Cinder, asphalt. Tennis court? Asphalt. Basketball court? Wood. Indoor football or baseball field? Fake grass.

No one misses getting slammed into the carpet at the AstroDome, though. The old days may have been simpler, but no one would choose simplicity over quality or comfort—so much for the good ol' days.