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Sunshine and success at open day for new floor training centre

WHEN established floor fitter Paddy McNicholas held an open day for his new training centre, MN Floor Training, on Friday 15 July, he was slightly nervous about how the event would turn out. He needn’t have been – it proved to be an unmitigated success with appearances from some of the most familiar faces in flooring, whether they were exhibitors, visitors, or floorlaying experts.

The event took place between 10am-4pm at MN Floor Training in Wolverhampton and proceeds of the tickets went to mental health charities and organisations which are reaching out to the people of Ukraine. A hog roast and drinks facilitated networking among the attendees.

Exhibitors included F Ball and Co, Hanson Plywood, Brampton Chase, Stairrods, Green-Flor, and Gekko Adhesives, among others. UK Flooring TV run by the NICF’s Brian King was in attendance along with Dan Jones, a carpet fitter of the year, FloorSkills’ Matt Bourne and, of course, CFJ.

‘When we were on our way back from last year’s Flooring Show at Harrogate, Brian, Dan and I were complaining about the fact we didn’t have a big flooring event to look forward to until Harrogate 2022,’ says Paddy, explaining how the idea for his open day came about. ‘So Brian suggested an open day, Dan agreed, and that was that. I ended up with a good variation of flooring manufacturers on the day, from carpet and LVT manufacturers to tool manufacturers and subfloor preparation specialists which helped people get the most out of it.’

Fitters attended from all over the UK, from as far afield as Scotland and Devon. ‘It’s amazing they made the effort to travel that far, and that manufacturers such as F Ball and Brampton Chase brought so many members of staff to look after their stands. The weather was on our side.’

‘This is an industry installation event and we’re here to support MN Training,’ Ken Robb, director of Floorstars, told CFJ. ‘But we’re also here because it’s a networking event and we can meet installers and suppliers, learn more about products and what’s happening in the Midlands in relation to the installation industry and we get to meet many old friends.’

Ken says he was ‘astonished’ by the turnout on the day. ‘I think you’re starting to see a new networking system developing within industry where we enjoy one another’s company and getting together and talking about floors, and this is a platform to do that.’

‘I was asked by Paddy to attend this open day and was more than happy to do so,’ said Gary Scott, managing director of Hanson Plywood. ‘We haven’t been able to get out on the road to explain to people what our product is all about over the past two years so I saw the day as a great opportunity.’

Many visitors asked Gary about SP101 plywood and technical information about how plywood works or should work in the flooring industry. ‘There’s been a mixture of visitors including contractors and end-users.’

Rachael Morgan, category manager for the UK at Gekko Adhesives, was exhibiting at the show. She said: ‘We support Paddy in everything he does and he has a great facility offering quality training, and we’re keen to promote our safety products and brand awareness. It was an honour to be invited, actually.’

Danny Thornley of D Thornley Carpets & Flooring, attended from Manchester because he’d previously sat in on Paddy’s installation and design courses. ‘I’d previously thought I was too good to go on his installation course but it blew my mind and he then persuaded me to go on his design one. I went to the open day because Paddy’s such a top bloke and such a big name in the industry, particularly with LVT fitting, and because I saw the potential for networking.’

‘We exhibited primarily to support Paddy,’ said Richard Davison of Brampton Chase. ‘We’ve supported him from day one since he wanted to start his training facility. As for our stand, we brought our full LVT range to the show – it’s not huge but it’s straightforward and manageable. Simplicity works.’

Scott Carter Dowding of Stairrods said: ‘We went to network, promote the brand, and to support Paddy, particularly because he’d done such a great thing for charity. It was nice to see people outside Harrogate and catch up. We met fitters, adhesive manufacturers, and distributors, so a nice mix of people.’

And William Hebble, sole UK distributor for Green-Flor, said he’d exhibited because it was a rare opportunity to get out of his office and see various people from the industry. ‘We didn’t exhibit to get new accounts but rather to say hello to people we’ve spoken to on the phone but never met.’

Finally, Matt Bourne of FloorSkills said he was keen to see what the day entailed and to see how Paddy was getting on with his centre. ‘It was a good turnout, and the weather’s held up really well. A lot of planning has to go into this for instance arranging space with the neighbouring units, getting the word out there can be hard work, so well done to Paddy.’

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