Lance Lutke works as Operations Manager for Floor Care Concepts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 20 years ago, you would have caught him playing sports at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, where he participated in baseball, soccer, and basketball.
Unity outgrew its old building and constructing a bigger, updated facility had been a topic of discussion for some time. As an alumnus, Lutke was well aware of the school’s ongoing fundraising efforts and was excited about the possibility of being involved with the school’s sports flooring needs.
“I was kind of anxious to see it move forward,” he says. “By the time it was put out to bid, they had already met with me because I was always checking to see how it was coming and told them we were interested in doing the wood and synthetic flooring.”
Floor Care Concepts won the bid to install a hardwood flooring system in the new 30,000 square foot gymnasium, but the dealership was not originally chosen to install synthetic flooring for an indoor track and weight room. That took a little convincing. Action Floor Systems® Midwest Regional Sales Rep., Gary Zander, says Lutke and the team at Floor Care Concepts knew exactly how to show the benefits of choosing high quality sports flooring.
“Lance did an amazing job selling the project on the ProAction Thrust PUR wood athletic flooring and selling the advantages of the Action Herculan seamless synthetic floor systems compared to rolled rubber,” Zander says.
“They came into our showroom and we met with the owners and the architect to show them the benefits of our products.” Lutke recalls. “Eventually, they decided to change what was originally specified.”
The Smell of Success
Part of the process of persuading Unity to use Action Herculan synthetic sports flooring was pointing out some unpleasant disadvantages of rolled rubber, the school’s initial choice.
“After the install, and for quite some time after that, the rolled rubber good tends to have a rubbery odor that is a little suffocating, especially with large volumes of it,” Lutke says.
Another problem with the rubber option is that the surface is porous, which can lead to odor and bacterial buildup.
“After a couple years of use, it starts smelling like sweat, or a locker room,” Lutke explains. “When people from Unity were touring other facilities, they noticed how it smelled and how deteriorated the flooring was. With Herculan, you still have the rubber good but it’s underneath a smooth, monolithic coating that is easy to clean. The ability to clean it and keep things smelling good was a huge factor in switching to Herculan. I was visiting recently and you’d never know you were in a weight room. It smells just like the rest of the school.”
Performance attributes, durability, and the ability to reapply a fresh surface with a pad-and-pour system were also factors in switching the specifications. The elevated indoor track at Unity Christian High School features Action Herculan SR 10+4, which is spike resistant and offers proper shock absorption for running.
“They can run outdoor cleats and even rollerblade on it,” says Lutke. “They can basically perform any activities for gym class, track, or training on this floor without worrying about damaging it. Yet, it’s very forgiving to the athlete.”
Designed with Purpose
Lutke and Floor Care Concepts worked with the owners and architect to develop unique flooring design concepts for Unity’s athletic facility.
Different synthetic floor systems were used for the weight room and track, because even though Action Herculan SR 10+4 is durable, it’s not meant for the same type of use as the Action Reflex Spin, which was used in the weight room.
Lutke explains that all the synthetic flooring on the second floor of the facility was installed completely seamlessly. You can walk from the weight room onto the track and into an adjacent classroom and it’s all connected. To protect the track from the abuse of weight room activities, Floor Care Concepts switched up the look of each area.
While the track is a dark gray, the weight room uses a lighter gray with colored flecks to break things up, and the classroom floor is a third shade of gray. The different appearance for each section creates clear boundaries serving as signals to student athletes and coaches that weights need to stay in the weight room.
“You don’t want guys with free weights going out on the track area and dropping their weights, damaging a floor system that’s not designed for that,” says Lutke.
Making the Grade
The true star of this sports facility is the expansive gymnasium. According to an article on MLive.com, the sheer size impressed many Unity Christian High School students who first saw it when the new school opened in the fall of 2015. Yet, while Floor Care Concepts won the opportunity to install the wood flooring from the start, Lutke worked to sell the school on what he knew would be a better choice.
An Action parquet floor system was initially specified for the gymnasium, but Lutke persuaded Unity to upgrade to the Pro Action Thrust floating floor system. He says that system is PUR rated for optimal performance and uniformity, while a parquet floor has certain limitations.
“If your floor has too much deflection, it can be too soft, and parquet flooring tends to have that disadvantage.” Lutke says. “So, it’s actually a slower playing court for the athlete.”
While there are appropriate applications for parquet flooring, Pro Action Thrust provides faster performance, ideal shock absorption, and longevity. This gym has bleachers rolled around on it and gets used for events like graduations and assemblies, so it needs to last. Pro Action Thrust has the strength required for multi-use gymnasiums.
What truly made the Unity Christian High School gymnasium stand out was Lutke’s suggestion to mix things up by using two different grades of hardwood maple flooring.
“We did a first grade maple in the main court of the gym, and around the perimeter we used a darker third grade. It really made the main court pop. They loved the idea and it looks beautiful.”
Students and staff aren’t the only ones who love the look of Unity’s gym floor. Lutke says he uses it as an example that always impresses prospects.
“We’ve gone back with other customers to show them Unity’s gym floor and synthetic flooring. It still looks brand new and we close the deal after they see that facility every time.”
Showing Some School Pride
It’s very apparent that Lance Lutke is proud of what Floor Care Concepts accomplished for his former high school. The entire process was an experience he enjoyed as it gave him a chance to work with old friends in new ways.
“It was so much fun,” he says. “My basketball coach was still there and he’d come in and check on the floor. My P.E. teacher, who I also played basketball for, was still there, and the superintendent was the athletic director when I was attending.”
Lutke says school officials had no problem trusting his advice and accepting his ideas, because they knew he had Unity’s best interests in mind.
In 2016, the Unity Crusaders became regional champs on the home court that Floor Care Concepts installed. You have to believe that Lutke’s care and consideration had at least a little to do with this accomplishment.
Of course, Lutke will remain loyal to his old school whether it’s a winning season or not. He has children of his own now, and he plans on sending them to Unity Christian High School when the time comes.
At Action Floors, we love hearing about how our products are used in success stories like this. We believe in working with sports flooring professionals who show the same type of dedication and commitment to quality as the team at Floor Care Concepts.
If you have questions about working with Action Floors or need details on any of our sports floor systems, contact us today.