They all turn 30 in 2018.
Picture the scene: the hair was big, the shoulder pads were bigger and the mobile phones were enormous. At Altro’s head office in Letchworth Garden City, lorries started leaving with the first rolls of Altro Walkway 20.
The new safety floor had a Pendulum Test Value of ≥36, was available in eight shades and, at 2mm, was the thinnest product we offered at the time, offering a cost effective safety solution in areas where lino or a smooth vinyl might have previously been chosen.
Altro Walkway quickly became a customer favourite, installed across the world from Mexico to Australia and many countries in between.
In the years following its launch, Altro Walkway became our best-selling product. Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do and Wet Wet Wet’s Love is All Around spent a combined 31 weeks at the top of the charts in the nineties but they’ve got nothing on Altro Walkway. When it comes to longevity, it’s been with us nearly as long as 24,000 run-throughs of Isner versus Mahut’s 2010 record breaking 11 hour, 5 minute tennis match!
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, in 1992, Altro Walkway SD was launched, a static-dissipative version of Altro Walkway that offers a simple way of minimising the risk of damage to static-sensitive equipment, such as computers. This makes it the ideal choice for computer suites, laboratories and electronic assembly areas. This wasn’t the only addition during the nineties.
As building designs evolved, so did the 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.”
As the new century established itself, advances in technology meant that our innovation team were able to develop and launch Altro XpressLay, the first adhesive-free safety floor. Its design and colour palette mirrored that of Altro Walkway, still our most popular product. It gave our customers more choice when facing an installation where a traditional, adhered floor couldn’t be installed. The shared shades meant that the two floors 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. As usual with Altro, it’s about giving you as many options as we can to help you get the job done.
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.”
So onto the next 30 years and, after all, for a company that has been around for a century, 30 years is just the beginning really…