Here, in the first part of two reports, CFJ talks about its visit to Bostik’s annual roadshow in Glasgow, and why it left impressed at the time and effort that went into making the event a success
By HARRIET WHITAKER.
ONE of the flooring industry’s well-known manufacturers of subfloor preparation products and adhesives, Bostik, has taken to the road again, with its roadshow at the Dakota Hotel in Motherwell, near Glasgow. CFJ was invited to see what the fuss was all about.
From the moment I saw the Bostik van situated on the grass verge at the hotel entrance, I knew I was in for a treat. Walking into the hotel foyer, the distinctive Bostik buckets of adhesive sat proudly on the table, accompanied by two other well-known brands in the flooring industry, Tarkett and Carpet & Flooring, each with their own displays to support the show.
On entering the exhibition, I was met with impressive displays and flooring professionals who proved to be passionate about the industry and the companies they work for. Bostik’s display featured a demo area, designed for those visiting the event to see the products in action.
I was greeted by Grant Bostock, Communications Manager, and Hannah Cooper, Communications Assistant, who went out of their way to make me feel welcome and introduced me to other members of the Bostik team.
After meeting Steve Thornton, Technical Services Consultant, he gave me a clear idea of the range Bostik offers. He explained: ‘Our products cover all types of floor preparation. We provide renovation products that repair non-structural cracks or joints that need filling before other products can be applied, right the way through to DPMs, primers, smoothing compounds and adhesives. Our range of primers includes acrylic products for general installation purposes, as well as hybrid solutions and epoxy primers, which can be used as barriers against calcium sulphate screeds. Our smoothing compound range includes fast-drying solutions, several water-based products as well as more application specific products such as SL C780 FLEX, a fibre-reinforced, heavy-duty smoothing compound.’
When asked about future developments of the range, he said: ‘We want to provide systems rather than individual products. For example, we have a renovations system, which includes the new crack repair product, RENO P520 EASY. We also have a fast-track system including a rapid DPM and a rapid setting smoothing compound. The range is comprehensive, so there’s a solution for almost every application.’
Grant Bostock added: ‘Our smoothing compounds are well known and well respected, but roadshows such as this help demonstrate the full systems we can offer, including a wide range of adhesives, which are a big focus for today’s event.’
Steve pointed out that Bostik has a range of adhesives for general application purposes, as well as a more bespoke range that offers specific performance characteristics.
‘We have adhesives including the STIX A600 EVOLUTION, which is our new Glass Ball technology product. By weight, this offers up to 30% more yield than a standard adhesive. We’ve also released a new tackifier which is phenomenal and is great for various loose-lay products.’
At the event, I was lucky enough to attend demos from the Bostik technical team. Ones that stood out were for the new STIX A600 EVOLUTION adhesive and the RENO P520 EASY crack repair system. Both products are new to the Bostik family and available to order.
James Rosher, Technical Services Consultant, ran demonstrations on how the products worked and how to apply them. The STIX A600 EVOLUTION adhesive contains Glass Ball technology that is exclusive to Bostik. He held two glass bottles, one of which had a regular vinyl adhesive in and the other containing Bostik’s A600. The A600 clearly had more volume in its content despite the two bottles containing the same amount of adhesive by weight, as James explained: ‘The Glass Ball technology aids the application process by allowing the trowel to easily glide over the floor, distributing the correct amount of adhesive. It also gives you more coverage compared to a ‘standard’ adhesive, so you don’t need as many buckets on the van to do the job.’
James pointed out that the bucket the product comes in is made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) content and 35% of the formulation is bio-based – so it’s a sustainable solution too. ‘We believe A600 is going to revolutionise the market. During application you will find it is light on the arm, making it easy to apply, and should you have excess adhesive left on the floor, it is effortless to pick up, which is something I believe fitters appreciate.’
The second product demoed by Steve was the new RENO P520 EASY repair resin system for fixing non-structural cracks that might be present in screeds. This can be for renovation projects where the screed has broken down over time, or new build projects.
Steve explains: ‘Sometimes cracks appear, either by forced drying, settlement or naturally through the hydration process, so this product ensures these cracks don’t continue to open. If they did, they’ll allow moisture to come through, which could be detrimental. The product is made up of two components where the user mixes them together and fills them into the cracks.’
To begin with, he poured the dark brown component into the transparent one and gave it a shake for about 30 seconds. He explained: ‘When we’re repairing screeds, we recommend you cut the crack open with a disc cutter to 40% the thickness of the slab. For example, if you have a 50ml slab of screed then the cut will need to be 20ml deep. You must then introduce 90degree cuts across the crack at 25cm intervals and place stitching pins (small metal serrated pins), which are supplied with the product, into the crosscuts. The pins are serrated so the resin sits around them and resists a lateral movement, preventing it from being pulled apart. Once the pins are in, cut the top of the bottle of the mixed components then fill the joints. Because we’re covering it, there will be trapped air so let the air bubbles rise and top it up. The joint should be topped up so it’s flush with the surface of the crack. Once it’s filled, it should dry in 15-30 minutes. If you were to put a DPM over the top, it would just need a quick smooth over first and be left until the following day. However, if you’re going to put a smoothing compound directly over the top, we’d smooth it off and scatter kiln-dried sand with a maximum grain size of 0.9mm over it until it’s completely covered and none of the resin is visible. This creates a sandpaper-like texture that allows the smoothing compound to form a strong bond. The product is quick and easy-to-use, has very low odour and can be placed into general waste after use. The darker bottle must be neutralised with water before placing into the bin.’
When asked about how the idea of the roadshow was introduced, Grant said: ‘A lot has been happening at Bostik recently. There’s been a number of changes to the product range, as well as the introduction of the Bostik Academy training centre. There’s also been changes in terms of the team too, with people like Steve joining us, so there’s much to talk about. The roadshow is about coming to places like this where you can speak to contractors directly to give advice, answer questions, and discuss the latest developments at Bostik.’
Steve added: ‘Much of the focus now is about the technical support offered by Bostik, not just generating specifications or recommendations on which products to use, but also the services available at the Bostik Academy in Stafford. Our new training facility is great because it gives people the opportunity to learn more about our products and put this into practise in the demo area. It’s not just the old traditional bays on the floor, we have full-height tables so anybody can do it.’
Steve pointed out that Bostik is expanding on the services it offers to contractors on site too.
Traditionally, the company carried out moisture tests just like every other company, but now it’s introducing pull-off tests, drop hammer tests, and other methods of testing to ensure all recommendations are based on the most accurate findings.
‘That’s the aim,’ says Steve. ‘You can never make people follow the right advice, but you can guide them and hopefully our reputation will continue to go from strength-to-strength.’
Hannah Cooper says this approach is all about getting Bostik’s name out there. ‘Last year we toured different places and took part in 20-30 events, we want to achieve that this year too.’
When asked what the brand expects from the show, Grant said: ‘It’s an opportunity to create new contacts and to speak with existing customers. It’s also good to work alongside distribution partners and other manufacturers such as Carpet & Flooring and Tarkett, as we can showcase how we can work together, meet new customers, and demonstrate the latest innovations. It’s not always easy to get demos out to people, but here we have the facilities to do that.’
Steve emphasises that there’s been a ‘real push’ to maximise exposure for Bostik in recent months. ‘We really want to showcase the products we’ve got because we want to show how good they are and how they’re supposed to be used. We want to offer customers high quality technical support, not just for us to turn up, give them a generic recommendation and walk away, but to actually provide one-on-one advice, project specific solutions and build relationships with people. We want to be the people they phone when they have a question about something because we have formed strong, friendly relationships with them. That’s why this team has been brought together; we can empathise with the installer because we’ve actually done it, we have been in the trade for years.’
During the roadshow, which ran over two days in Motherwell, there was also an opportunity for visitors to attend a RIBA approved CPD seminar from Bostik, which is tailored towards architects, specifiers, and designers. The seminar detailed the requirements to achieve a trouble-free installation of resilient or textile flooring, focusing on typical substrates, moisture measurement and mitigation, subfloor preparation techniques, and adhesive selection.
When asked how many people the team is expecting to turn up at the roadshow, Grant replied: ‘It’s difficult to say. I know after speaking to Carpet & Flooring about the events they’ve done previously, they’ve had 200 people through the doors in a couple of days, but you never know until you’ve done it. I don’t think every roadshow we do will follow the same format as this. There will be some that are smaller, where the team visits a distribution partner’s depot in the Bostik vans, rather than hiring a hotel or event space. It will be a mixture. We’ve got areas we want to focus on but we haven’t got an agenda as such, so we’ll adapt to people’s needs as and when they come in; we’ll keep it flexible. If people come with specific needs, we can address them as and when they arrive.’
‘The best thing about the roadshow is they’re going to be taking place in different parts of the UK right up until The Flooring Show in Harrogate. It’s going to be ongoing, out on the road until then.’
Jake Hodder, Business Development Manager at Bostik, told me every roadshow is different. ‘Over the course of the locations we attended last year with the roadshow, I believe we saw more than 500 people.
‘Last year we ran an event in Leeds and we saw between 40-50 fitters but at the smaller ones, we didn’t see as many. This year, we’ll again have two vans, one north, one south, attending three tradeshows a week. Doing this will hopefully build momentum as the shows go on.’
Stewart Lacey, Commercial Manager – Pro Wall & Floor at Bostik explains: ‘In coming out of the pandemic, we’ve been investing in people who are starting to contribute to the brand. The roadshow is important to the brand because it gets the message across. The whole point of the event is not just to show the more generic smoothing compounds, but to show all the new products and services we can offer. We want to make a statement.’
Stewart says Bostik’s USP is its technical support. ‘We’re a massive company, which means we’re not just using the technology from the UK, but globally too. We look to our colleagues in Germany or France who are always developing products. We’re always looking for alternative, more sustainable solutions. We’ve developed a product with Glass Ball technology that is unique to us and no one else in the industry has it. It’s an exciting time at Bostik because there’s a lot of innovation and change, and the big focus is on education and training. We don’t train people how to fit, we train people how to use and get the best out of our products.’
When asked how important training is to the flooring industry, Steve added: ‘There’s always advances in technology and changes in the products that means they don’t work the same way they used to do 10 or 20 years ago, so part of it is teaching people how things have moved on and how the application methods have evolved. As well as training those who’ve been in the industry for years, we’re going to look at training in colleges because it’s a cultural thing. If you can talk to apprentices while they’re still young and teach them the right way and get them used to our products, there’s a good chance they’ll continue to use them throughout their career.’
NEXT MONTH: CFJ reports on Tarkett and Carpet & Flooring’s contribution to the Bostik roadshow, and hears their views on what they got out of the event.