First Line of Defense


David van Gelder, VP, Portico Systems, Calhoun, Ga.

Entry matting plays a critical role in the retail arena, from improved store appearance to reduced maintenance costs. Portico Systems’ David van Gelder discussed the benefits of matting with editor Marianne Wilson.

What role does entry floor matting play in the retail environment? 

All commercial, retail and industrial businesses strive to maintain a clean, professional and presentable environment. First impressions are important — the entryway is the first thing a customer experiences when they enter a facility.

Additionally, matting can play a vital role in health and safety. An effective matting system (approximately 18 ft. of product) will capture 80% of the dirt, dust and grime that is tracked in from outdoors, ensuring that both drying and cleaning is accomplished before the consumer steps beyond the vestibule. Not only is your in-store air quality greatly increased, but slip/fall claims are reduced.

How do mats impact maintenance costs? 

It can be said that for every 800 people entering a facility, 1 lb. of dirt is left behind. The estimated cost for removing this pound of dirt from a modern building can exceed $600.

What are some common mistakes retailers make when it comes to entrance matting systems? 

The most common mistake is not using any at all. It only takes one slip/fall claim to correct this behavior. Another pitfall is not using enough or using the wrong type. What we like to do is first complete a needs assessment. A proper evaluation of a store will be based on customer traffic (volume), regional locations and design. We try to not overengineer or oversell systems when it is not necessary.

Another error is utilizing a rental mat program. Rental matting often is rubber-backed and machine washable and is constructed of very thin and inexpensive material so the mats can be reused over and over again. You never truly get a clean, fresh look. You will find that if you amortize the cost of purchasing versus renting that owning your own system is a much more cost-effective method.

There are lots of options out there. What are some of the criteria a retailer should use to select the right product? 

The amount of traffic entering their stores, the type of weather/debris they experience in the various locations, and whether they want something custom or off the shelf. They also need to consider the warranty of the product.

How often do floor matting systems need to be replaced? 

The life cycle of a floor matting system has a direct correlation to the amount of regular maintenance conducted. It is not unusual that the correct product in the right application and under proper maintenance can last anywhere between five and six years. Having said that, however, if a system is just left alone it could potentially wear out or fail within one to two years.

What services does Portico offer retailers? 

Portico Systems works specifically with retailers and their designers to create the appropriate solution for all their flooring needs. We specialize in flooring designed to reduce interior maintenance, cost and slip/fall claims. Not only do we sell the flooring, but we also provide nationwide installation and maintenance services designed to provide a one-stop experience. We differentiate ourselves in respect to cost, service and innovation. We like creating/engineering what no one else has brought to market.

What’s new at Portico in the way of products? 

We have revised our color palettes to be more in tune with today’s trends. And we continue to find new avenues for reusing our products once they have reached maturity. Recently, we launched a new 6-in.-by-36-in. vinyl plank line called Natures View-Style Rustique that is built exclusively for the heavy traffic retailers experience within their stores. It has one of the highest and most durable wear layers in the industry.

Does Portico offer recycling options? 

Yes. Currently, we have a program in place that not only recycles our own material, but also whatever we are replacing. It is a complete closed-loop system from procurement to replacement.

What advice do you have for retailers with regard to matting systems? 

Align yourselves with a partner that not only is knowledgeable and has experience, but also has the stock, service and capabilities of handling a retailer properly. Look out for firms that overpromise and under-deliver. Retailers should also keep in mind that performance of a matting system is only ranked by the number of zones or areas that are utilized/ covered. A single matting system achieves good results, but a three-part matting system provides superior performance, while saving them time and money.

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