His work often takes him to historic locations, including the venerable building picked by Azon, and he believes there is a unique achievement that comes from making old things new again. "The locals take ownership of downtown buildings," says Collins. "When you remodel a space that is part of a downtown area, you want people to pass by and say, I love what they did with that old building."
For Collins and his crew this would be a compelling-and challenging- assignment. The client, an international manufacturer of thermal technology, wanted a headquarters facility that would send a message to visitors and office personnel alike. Writing in the company newsletter, Chairman James Dunstan told his staff: "Our new headquarters means much more to us then just having a nice place to go to work. The new environment promises to invigorate our attitudes as we connect to our global partners." They were also on a tight deadline to get their new digs up and running.
Dunstan and his wife Ruth, who started the company in 1977 on a shoestring budget and watched it evolve into a giant in its field, sketched out a very specific plan for their new space. For the floor, they were determined to have a patterned carpet that would add a unique and tasteful touch to the office. The aesthetic value notwithstanding, Collins has learned over the years that this approach can be a tricky undertaking. Time and again, he has seen installations of patterned broadloom carpets create problems with side match, bowing, and skewing.
Eager to avoid such headaches, Collins admits his first impulse was to encourage the owners to choose one of the other carpet, tile and laminate options offered by Century Floor Space. Still, he realized that a patterned broadloom was a critical part of the owners' vision. It was, he soon learned, not negotiable.
"I typically stay away from patterned broadlooms as I've had many installation issues with pattern match," explains Collins. "This is especially true with the less expensive products. They simply don't match up. I've also had problems with more expensive, ‘nicer-quality' products too."
When choosing a commercial carpet, Collins says his first priorities are cleanability, and durability-then look and feel. For the Azon project, he chose a higher-end Bolus carpet with Pattern backing to prevent the historical problems of side match, bowing, and skewing. According to SI Flooring Systems, the maker of PatternLok, the backing is designed to "lock" a carpet's pattern in place to ensure that side match is not an issue during installation.
Collins called Anne Wilkinson of Bolus Contract, a brand of Beaulieu Commercial, to ask if she could accommodate a client on a tight deadline for opening a new office. After pulling a few strings, Wilkinson assured that the product would be ready in less than a month.
Collins may have been confident he selected the right carpet, but Wilkinson still wanted to make certain it was the right choice for the client's needs. As such, she asked the same four questions she always asks. First, what is the application and where is the carpet being used? Next, what is the budget? Then, what kind of backing is most appropriate? And finally, what are the installation issues?
Once Wilkinson had her answers she agreed that Bolyu Boxes carpet was a good fit for the job. She ordered 1000 yards of Bolyu Boxes, enough to cover the corridors, open areas, private offices, and conference rooms.
The installer, Robert Serman of S & R Carpets, agrees that replacements and mismatches are part of working with patterned broadloom carpets. Still, he adds, the Azon job went smoothly. The PatternLok backing came through, and the carpet matched up well, he says. Using a quality, fast-grabbing adhesive and seam sealer, Serman and his eight installer crew finished the job in three days.
Following the completion of the installation, all parties involved say they are satisfied. And what's also important for Collin, an old building in downtown Kalamazoo, Mich., has a new lease on life.