Altro is celebrating 100 years in business. Founded in 1919 by a small group of individuals with a big idea, the company now has more than 900 employees globally, with a heritage of innovation including inventing safety flooring, developing a hygienic walls system and creating the world’s first adhesive-free safety floor.
Richard Kahn is Altro’s CEO, and the third generation to lead this Hertfordshire-based family company that has offices across Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. “One successful innovation could be luck; repeated success needs a little help,” he explains. “We’ve always known that speaking with, listening to and partnering with customers, end users, contractors, engineers and designers is the key to getting what we do right. It’s allowed us to be bold and to explore design and functional possibilities, without losing sight of who we’re doing it for.”
Altro’s first safety floor was installed in 1950 in a church hall in Nottingham. Remarkably, that same flooring is still in place and when last tested still rates PTV≥40, meaning it has kept users safe for nearly 70 years. Altro has continued to turn creative thinking into practical real-world solutions that can transform everyday spaces into environments that improve the wellbeing of everyone that uses them. Innovations include developing sparkle-free safety flooring which has transformed design for dementia, and Altro XpressLay: the world’s first adhesive-free and fully recyclable safety flooring.
Altro shares its centenary with the Bauhaus design school, which was also founded in 1919 and is based in Dessau just a few hundred metres from Altro’s German site. In developing the new Altro Ensemble modular flooring collection, the design team took inspiration from the Bauhaus philosophy of bridging the gap between form and function to engineer products that meet the customers’ biggest challenges, such as the need for cleanability, sustainability and flexibility.
“While the world in 1919 couldn’t seem more different from today’s, our excitement at embracing and developing new technologies and ways of working is exactly the same as back then,” says Richard Kahn. “Add to this that we remain a family business, with family values and I think you have the reason why we’re here today, celebrating our centenary.”