Thirty years ago, when the world was a lot different, trucks started leaving the head office of Altro Flooring and Walling in Letchworth Garden City carrying the first rolls of Altro Walkway 20. This was the beginning of the journey that turned Altro’s new safety floor into a bestselling product, quickly becoming a customer favourite, and installed across the world from Mexico to Australia.
The new safety floor had a Pendulum Test Value of ≥36, was available in eight shades and, at 2mm, was the thinnest product offered by Altro at the time, providing a cost-effective safety solution in areas where lino or a smooth vinyl might have previously been chosen.
Even decades later after its launch, Altro Walkway continues to be Altro’s bestselling product with its longevity outlasting everything that trended at the time.
David Gatfield, regional technical services manager at Altro, has been with the company for 47 years. Recalling the arrival of Altro Walkway and customer feedback during the last thirty years, he says: “When Altro Walkway launched, it was welcomed both by the team here at Altro and our customers. Over the years I have installed countless thousands of metres and it’s one of my favourite products, no question. It’s robust yet forgiving and easy to work with, and I know people in the trade who won’t use any other 2mm safety floor; it’s the product of choice time and time again.”
To ensure that Altro Walkway continued to be suitable for multiple application areas, Altro Walkway SD was launched in 1992. A static-dissipative version of Altro Walkway, the new safety floor offers a simple way of minimising the risk of damage to static-sensitive equipment, such as computers, making the Altro Walkway SD ideal for computer suites, laboratories and electronic assembly areas.
Altro continued to add to their safety flooring range during the nineties. Evolving building designs led to an increased demand for more colour choice for floors.
“Blue, beige and grey shades are classics; popular both in the early days and today,” says Altro new products introduction manager, David Brailsford.
“During the 1990s and into the 2000s, interior design evolved, with the use of colour becoming more adventurous. Being such a versatile floor, it made sense that Altro Walkway was the perfect product to introduce a much wider palette. Shades were added, including Haze, Petrol and Copperbeech, until, in 2013, we had a choice of 42 colours, including several that were added following customer requests.”
Advances in technology in the new century meant newer innovations such as the Altro XpressLay, the first adhesive-free safety floor featuring a design and colour palette that mirrored the popular Altro Walkway.
Altro XpressLay gave customers more choice in projects where a traditional, adhered floor couldn’t be installed. The shared palette meant that the two flooring types could be laid side by side, for example, a damp area of a refurb, which may have previously caused problems could have Altro XpressLay installed, with Altro Walkway running through the rest of the installation.
Richard Kahn, CEO floors and managing director, Altro Group says: “At the time Altro Walkway was launched I was in the London sales force and I remember all the discussion about the merits of launching a 2.00mm floor following a 30-year history of manufacturing and marketing Altro Classic 25 and Altro Designer 25 2.5mm safety flooring. But, thanks to the tremendous growth in the global market for safety flooring and the tremendous performance of Altro Walkway, it has proved to be one of the best decisions we ever made.”
Altro looks forward to more innovations over the next 30 years; after all, for a company that has been around for a century, 30 years is just the beginning really.