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Life at Altro Technical Services

We asked our regional technical services manager, David Gatfield, to take us through a typical day’s work in Altro Technical Services. It turns out that describing one day doesn’t quite cover the service they offer, so instead he’s going to explain how the team can help you when you need it.

It’s probably not a surprise to say that there isn’t really a typical day in technical services but the diversity makes for a great job. It’s complex at times and multi-faceted; it encompasses all aspects of flooring so we need to bring a lot of experience with us to tackle whatever the day might bring. I’ve been part of the team for over 35 years – between us we have well over 100 years’ experience of working with floors. Although that’s something I don’t like to think of too much, it means we’ve seen pretty much everything and have an answer to just about anything.

On the phone

If you call our technical hotline, you’ll get through to one of the team in our customer contact centre who should be able to help you straight away. If your query is more complex, they might call us for further information to come back to you with, or put you in direct contact with us. We might be asked about difficult specifications for proposed installations, about subfloor preparation and suitability, moisture content, compressive strength before a resin installation for instance, all in an attempt to avert problems once the project is complete. We’ll also discuss mid-installation queries and assess next steps if you call about issues post-installation. We’re also on hand to answer any questions from the Altro sales team, ensuring they have everything they need to discuss projects with you. Of course we also handle plenty of queries over email too!

On the road

The team spends a fair bit of time on the road visiting customers and installation sites. This can be to give guidance pre-installation, or to visit a site where an installation isn’t as it should be. I get to see a lot of the country, sometimes all in one day…

We will attend meetings before, during and after an installation, if requested, to discuss any issues around specification. Obviously there are lots of people involved in making projects come to life and not everyone will agree on which products to use where and why. We’ll often ‘arbitrate’ at these meetings to realistically manage everyone’s expectations. This is a really important role for us. The aim is to get the best solution for all parties, resulting in a robust installation that gives the end-user what they need, and we take an unbiased approach to do this.

The team holds regular trade days at flooring distributors, where we carry out demonstrations of installation techniques to support the flooring contractors who come along, as well the host distributor.

Onsite

We carry out slip testing of our products when the end user is looking for assurance that the correct flooring has been installed in a particular area of a building. That will involve carrying out a Pendulum Test – that’s the swinging, dummy heel that sweeps over a set area of flooring to simulate slipping on a wet floor. From this we’ll get a Pendulum Test Value (PTV) which tells us the risk of a slip in that area. If the PTV isn’t 36 or above in an area where there is a high or very high risk of a slip, we’ll recommend a safety floor.

If a contractor has problems, or an installation has been carried out poorly, we will visit the site to discuss remedial work and involve the client at this stage to get them on board with what we're proposing. It’s important to say that the team doesn’t just give guidance; we’re very much involved in hands-on work! If necessary we will give the contractor some extra training or more simple guidance to ensure that they are able to achieve the correct standard of workmanship that the client expects. For technically demanding projects we have made mock-ups or trial pieces to make sure that everyone can see what’s expected.

Site visits are recorded and where reports are requested or needed for future reference, we write them too. In fact I have three to do today from visits and phone conversations that happened yesterday.

We cover the UK and all the countries that Altro export our material to; over the years that I personally have worked in the department, I have travelled to 35 different countries outside of the UK in pursuit of supporting Altro and anyone in difficulty where our materials were being specified or used. My friends and colleagues in Altro Technical Services have also travelled widely.

At Altro

The team isn’t out and about all of the time. We run safety floors and walls training schools in-house at Letchworth Garden City and resin floors training schools at Maiden Newton on a regular basis, and around the UK and rest of the world when asked. These training schools allow us to share best practice about the various fitting and installation methods that can be adopted with our products. The trainees are always a great bunch and the sessions often start a dialogue that continues once that person is out working on their own installations.

In a nutshell

We are a happy, knowledgeable, very capable group of individuals. We have a great sense of humour and although, due to geography, we don't meet up often, we talk regularly and discuss any issues we’ve come across so that we can be ahead of the curve in a proactive role, helping prevent more serious issues further down the line. Our roles are the same and though our methods can differ, our ultimate goal is identical: to provide a full, fair and comprehensive service to all our customers from Altro.

Posted: 16/08/2018 08:00:00 by Heather Mussett | with 0 comments