CFJ speaks with Re-Born Flooring

CFJ recently caught up with entrance matting specialist and Forbo alumni Ashley Thulborn, who says his flooring company, Re-Born Flooring, has benefited greatly from Forbo Flooring’s CITB approved and accredited entrance matting course.

Ashley is no stranger to the trade - and discusses his time on Forbo’s course with the expertise of an installation veteran.

‘‘So I’ve been in the flooring industry for over 17 years now’ he begins, ‘initially at an installer at for 11 years, so I knew Forbo from then. I then worked for Forbo Flooring , as an entrance matting specialist from 2012. Then I went into key account management with Forbo before leaving to pursue my love of installation. As an entrance matting specialist, I gained a wealth of knowledge of the products in the range.’

Perhaps unusually, he suggests, Ashley has found entrance matting to be an area of interest throughout his career. Although it is less glamorous than a lot of main interior floorcoverings, entrance matting serves a unique purpose and presents a set of unique challenges.

‘ Entrance flooring systems are something that’s always been of interest to me, purely because its normally like the forgotten part of flooring. It’s never the most exciting of areas when you think of all the pretty colours you get throughout the rest of the building, entrance matting is normally grey, brown or black. But for me, matting is the sacrificial part of flooring. Get it right, and it helps prolong the life of your interior floorcoverings, and reduces slip and trip, so it’s something that’s been close to my heart for some time.’

While Ashley decided to leave Forbo as an employee, he was keen to take advantage of what the manufacturer offers installers. In particular, Ashley had a lot of praise for Forbo’s entrance matting training course.

‘Since leaving Forbo I’ve done the week training course with Ron and Steve, up at Telford, which is where the new range of products from Forbo is being made. There was me, and the other director of our company, Re-Born Flooring, on the course.

‘The course itself was great, it covered all aspects of what you would need to know on-site to finish an entrance area, from framing to floor preparation to actual final installs.’

The training is administered by entrance matting experts Steve Donegani and Ron Mayle who, since 1999, have ‘trained hundreds of installers in the UK and beyond in the art of fitting Nuway rigid engineered matting’, Forbo says.  

‘Ron and Steve are great. Obviously, I’ve known them for a number of years now, but they’re both highly experienced within entrance systems, I think they’ve each been at it for 35-40 years. What they don’t know about entrance matting isn’t worth knowing! So their knowledge is absolutely great, they made the course fun. It’s very, very educational, they answered any questions we had, and they covered everything very, very well.’

Ashley began the week-long training already possessing a wealth of knowledge about matting, having specialised in the area for a number of years. Despite this, he emphasises it was a valuable undertaking which offered very practical experience.

‘Like I say, I’ve been involved with this for a number of years, matting as a whole. But from the fitting side and the different aspects of on-site work, they were great. It was just about overcoming different cuts, curved cuts, raked angled. It covered the full install.

‘It’s the whole depth that it goes through. From start to finish you get the history of matting. How it’s evolved over time. To see it evolve to what it is today, going down into airports and buildings with high traffic and heavy wheeled loads. That evolution in entrance matting development, not just from Forbo but from everybody, to cope with the change in environments. So that was all very interesting, but again for me it was getting hands on, the practical side was brilliant.’

Ashley explains exactly what the practical component of Forbo’s entrance matting course involves:

‘For the practical training, you get given various test mats, and they will show you what you need to achieve from it. So we looked at the different cuts that you would see on site. The course explains how to trim the rubbers, on single sided matting, down to accommodate angled raked cuts. It goes into the minimum and maximum for each rubber you can do, which was again very informative, something I didn’t know before. Doing the square angle on the cut, so if you’re cutting round a door, or circular cuts, if you’re doing a revolving door. We looked at if you had a security post in the mat, and how you would overcome that area. Very comprehensive, as I say. You do all these cuts initially, and then you do your examination cut, which is one mat that you have to do all of those cuts on, which must fit into a pre-formed space, and if it fits nice and snug, then that’s the result they’re looking for.’

More than just explaining the process of installing matting though, Ashley says, the course goes into helpful depth about what installers can do when they encounter problems or challenges on site:

‘If you take an area of 3mx2m but its not 100% square because nothing ever is, you need to cut that, and its how to adjust that mat on site to make sure it fits. Doing the security tagging post is great because sometimes you go on site initially to view the space and its nice and open, but when you go back to fit it, they’ve put security posts in or there’s some kind of barrier there that you have to cut around that wasn’t there before. And obviously if you don’t know how to do those cuts then you can’t do the job.

‘The course gives you the knowledge base to overcome obstacles that may have been put there as well as just being able to turn up and fit a mat. So on completing it you can use your skills and knowledge to get the job done. Like the change in matwell height for example. If you get there and the builder has not levelled it to where they said it would be, how are you going to sort that so it is the right height to install.’

Ashley concludes that Forbo’s entrance matting course offers a lot to both experienced entrance matting installers and more traditional floorcovering fitters who want to expand their skillset (and their toolset!)
‘It’s a great course. Ron and Steve were absolutely superb. What was great for me was, coming from a floor layer background, the different tools you use to fit entrance matting as well. It’s not just your Stanley blades and your usual cutting equipment you use for soft floorcoverings, its cutting discs, bandsaws, circular saws, how to trim your framing with mitre saws. Then how to obviously connect those. So it’s a different skillset to the fitting of a textile or resilient floor covering, and certainly a different toolbox. You get all that information, and they give you a list of equipment that they would recommend you use on site.’
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Garry Bateman, head of technical sales and support, Forbo Flooring, is pleased to announce that following on from the CFJ May edition, which said:

‘So where to from here? Officially, the fun can’t start until the Approved Training Organisations (ATO) are approved because without them, there are no approved trainers. The good news is that Forbo Flooring has gained CITB ATO status and had their course approved, so they can now run these new courses with immediate effect.’

… the inaugural 4-day course since gaining ATO status was successfully run with four new fitters to the world of entrance matting coming from two established mat fitting companies – SDS Matting, Alton, Hampshire and Contract Flooring and Interiors (C.F.I), Hull.

It was significant for two first time reasons: being the initial mixed company attendee course for this new CITB training standard and having the first female fitter.

The course ran perfectly to plan and the feedback from all attendees was excellent. As an aside, the CITB stated that the Forbo Flooring course submission was exemplary in content and quality – a great testament to the hard work and focus over many years by our trainers.

We have now diarised 4-day courses for each month in 2018 to allow new fitters to gain the required qualification standard for CSCS Card validation. We will also run special 2-day assessment courses for established matting fitters on an ad-hoc basis, depending on demand, throughout the year, to enhance their current Nuway Training Course certification.

This will keep our trainers, Steve Donegani and Ron Mayle, very busy. They have very kindly agreed to each do an ‘In the Dock’ article this month for CFJ so you will now be able to find out more about them. Makes for a more personal link for any future attendees and maybe something to talk about during the breaks in training.

Forbo Flooring is committed to supporting training within the flooring industry and another venture is the re-opening of our existing Linoleum Laying School in Kirkcaldy for use by FITA (the training arm of the CFA). We are pleased to be able to facilitate training in Scotland to support the development of flooring skills with a more localised venue for our Scottish and North of England flooring contractors. The first FITA course was a Wetroom Installation course run by Steve Ramsden, FITA Trainer, with fitters from Scotland attending.
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