A national treasure
National Flooring Equipment’s mission is to engineer and design surface preparation equipment of the highest quality, distinction and value, something it has successfully done for more than 50 years
When we at Construction & Civil Engineering spoke to Connie Johnson, Vice President of Marketing at National Flooring Equipment Inc. (National) in mid-January, she was at the time seated amongst the crowds at DOMOTEX 2019, the world’s leading showcase for flooring solutions, held at the Hannover Fairground, Germany. “This is our second year at the show, which is a true international showcase of surface coverings, from flooring and hardwood to tiles and carpets,” she tells us. “Once again, it has been a fantastic few days for us, giving myself and my colleagues the chance to interact first-hand with our existing distribution and rental partners, customers and end users, and discuss their requirements, and we will definitely be back next year!”
Founded in 1968 by Lloyd Anderson, National initially began life as a company specialising in the supply of carpet and flooring tools to craftsmen and trade professionals. “This was very much the focus of the company in its first decades of existence, but as it expanded and began designing larger tools and machines, so too did it become increasingly aware of the growing surface preparation market, and the challenges it faced in the removal of tiles and other flooring materials,” Connie explains.
It was under Lloyd’s son, Marty, who took the reins as president in 1988, that the company would go on to make significant strides in the development of the walk-behind and ride-on floor scraper technology that would ultimately take National to the next level. Later, in 2007, the business adopted a new philosophy with a vision to move from what was a single-channel company to a multi-channelled provider to the construction supply industry. In the time since, National has gone on to launch a wide range of new products, including a complete line of planetary grinders, advanced technology for battery ride-on scrapers, as well as the safest and cleanest fuel burning propane rider on the market.
“Today, we boast a portfolio of around 12 different types of scraper alone, from small, plug-in, foot-propelled walk-behind scrapers like our 550 model to our large, propane-powered ride on machines that are used to remove asphalt and outdoor materials from bridges,” Connie continues. “On top of that, we have over 50 US and foreign patents, and offer the most extensive product offering current available in the surface preparation industry.”
Engineering & innovation
While the nature of the company’s activities may have changed over the years, National’s focus on building quality equipment and supporting it with unparalleled customer service has most definitely not. With its equipment engineered and manufactured on the basis of finding solutions to inefficiencies, increased production, reduced labour and elevated quality standards are the benchmarks that the company sets itself.
“The growth of the business has been sustained and very well maintained, with a very strong emphasis on engineering and innovation,” Connie adds. “This has resulted in heavy investment in our engineering staff, of which we currently have nine highly skilled individuals working full time on new product development and improvements. They are the people responsible for helping National to bring solutions to life that address the latest challenges and in response to feedback and trends, for example the removal of modern adhesives and glues, or the various polishes and chemicals that are being used more frequently to treat or stain concrete. As well as the machines themselves, all of our parts and accessories are manufactured for durability, and we approach our tooling efforts with a view to creating equipment that is flexible and capable of performing multiple tasks.”
In addition to the above, National also takes a proactive approach to providing training and support services to customers. “Several years ago, we began to regularly offer training seminars every other month or so,” Connie states. “During these two-day sessions, we take people through a hands-on demonstration of virtually every product range that we offer. We basically lay down a mixture of hardwood, carpet or tiling, and people can physically trial our products to learn how to get the best results from a piece of equipment, and receive tips and advice, which makes for a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.”
Having carved out a leading position in its domestic US market over the past five decades, recent years have bared witness to National doubling down on its international efforts and expansion. A major element of this has been the re-focusing of its activities in Europe, part of which saw the company appoint a new European Director of Sales, Toine van den Heuvel, in 2017, and hire both Nick White and Claude Besson as its UK and French country managers respectively. “Today, we have boots firmly on the ground in key European markets, which allows our people to visit distributors and customers directly to offer support and technical assistance, and this has opened more doors to us across the continent,” Connie enthuses.
New product launches
With the aforementioned growth in Europe, now is as perfect a time as there is ever likely to be for the company to be making its presence felt at The UK CONCRETE Show 2019, held at the NEC, Birmingham on the 20th and 21st March, 2019. “This will also be our second year at this particular show and we are excited to be returning after such a fantastic experience in 2018,” Connie says. “From a brand perspective, it is very beneficial that we re-introduce ourselves to prospective customers and stress our desire to earn their business going forward, and we will of course accompany ourselves with a wide range of our products, including scrapers, grinders, and shot blasters. We will also be bringing back our Helix Planetary floor grinder, which we launched in 2017. This innovative dual-speed machine, which has a 16-inch grinding path and edge-grinding capability has been a huge hit with customers, and has proven to be a great companion to many of our other products.”
The year ahead is already shaping up to be an exciting time for Connie and the rest of the National family, with at least three brand new products due to be launched in the coming 12-18 months, which it hopes will revolutionise the scraper market. “While our engineers work hard to develop these new solutions, we will use 2019 to continue spreading the word of National throughout the industry internationally in order to reach as many potential new customers as possible. This will help us in laying down a strong, lasting foundation for the years ahead, upon which we will build the next generation of National solutions that we are sure our customers will love,” Connie concludes.
National Flooring Equipment
Products: Surface preparation solutions and service