South Dakota

Thousands of Miles, Thousands of Tiles: A Year of Life Floor Manufacturing

One year ago today, after an extensive search that led us to Madison, South Dakota, we officially announced the opening of our manufacturing line here in the United States. The work of getting everything up and running was far from over, but it was gratifying to have so many friends, family members, colleagues, and business partners join us for the kick-off of what would be a whirlwind year. Here’s a look at our last 365 days by the numbers:

Miles Driven Between Minneapolis and Madison: 13,104

The company Subaru has worn out the pavement between our office in the Twin Cities and Falcon Plastics in Madison, averaging more than two trips per month to do everything from testing a new color or texture to delivering a new batch of raw material. That’s greater than the distance from the North Pole to the South Pole! Our CTO, Jason Bahrke, made the vast majority of the trips, but has somehow managed to resist growing a mustache and donning a cowboy hat ala Burt Reynolds in “Cannonball Run.”

Somehow, still Burt Reynolds and not Life Floor CTO Jason Bahrke

Somehow, still Burt Reynolds and not Life Floor CTO Jason Bahrke

Tiles Produced in Madison: 30,545

Last July set us off to a relatively modest start as just 12 tiles were sold off the line -- though there were numerous trials being run at the same time -- but the pace has picked up nicely as we sold more than 5,000 tiles produced at Falcon in June, 2016. Those 30,545 tiles translate to more than 60,000 linear feet or more than 200 football fields, and they’ve ended up all over the world. From the decks of Carnival cruise ships and waterparks in Dubai to the Florida Aquarium and a splash pad in Tennessee, Life Floor tiles have ended up in a huge variety of places. We’ve had the privilege of working with some truly outstanding partners this year and the next 12 months promise to bring a chance to work with many of them again as well as some new and exciting opportunities.

Carnival Fascination.jpg

Operational Presses: 5

When we kicked things off last year, our two presses were hummed along nicely, matching demand with aplomb, but it didn’t take long for them to become the bottleneck in our system. Thanks to a new three-station press that arrived in early 2016 and was installed by a great team at Falcon, we’ve more than doubled our capacity, which allows us to fill orders even more quickly than we could before.

Potential Combinations of Color, Texture, and Thickness In Production: 72

Sure, some combinations are more popular than others -- we don’t make crate-loads of 7/8ths turquoise slate for example -- but with Madison’s proximity to both our office and to the color lab at RTP Company in Winona, we’ve been able to push new colors into production quickly and come up with solutions for all manner of customer requests. We’ve learned a lot about color matching and should have a new set of colors ready for production in the next few weeks.

El Vacquero Tacos Eaten: Too Many to Count

Over the last year, we’ve seen time and again how fortunate we are to work with partners like Falcon Plastics and RTP Company; to have the incredible support of the local partners like the Lake Area Improvement Corporation, Rural Electric Economic Development Fund, and Heartland Consumers Power District; and to be a part of such a great community in Madison. We couldn’t be more excited about the future of Life Floor and South Dakota is a huge part of the reason why.  

Like the Bison, we don't plan on leaving South Dakota any time soon. 

Like the Bison, we don't plan on leaving South Dakota any time soon. 

Life Floor Is Bringing Manufacturing Home!

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     Mojave Slate and Sepia Slate, as seen at Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa in Pismo Beach, CA, will be among the Life Floor portfolio produced in the United States.  

Mojave Slate and Sepia Slate, as seen at Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa in Pismo Beach, CA, will be among the Life Floor portfolio produced in the United States.  

Life Floor, a leading innovator and designer of resilient flooring, announced today the opening of their U.S. manufacturing facility. Production at the facility, housed within Falcon Plastics’ Madison, South Dakota location, will shorten lead times, increase Life Floor’s custom flooring options, fuel the company’s move into the residential flooring market, and create new job opportunities.

“When we looked at the skill of South Dakota’s workers, the decreased environmental impact of no longer having to ship our product across the ocean, and the speed with which consumers can now get Life Floor, it became clear this was the best possible move for us,” said Life Floor CEO Jonathan Keller. “Thanks to our partners, we’ve been able to start operations in Madison quickly. We are thrilled with the trajectory Life Floor is on, and this facility is a big part of that.”

Keller cited Falcon Plastics, the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Heartland Rural Electric Fund, the Lake Area Improvement Corporation, and the REED Fund as organizations whose support was integral to their decision to come to Madison. The Minnesota-based company says that the new production lines will create new positions at the factory and at their headquarters in Minneapolis. 

“Having our manufacturing so close to home is going to give us the flexibility to both serve our existing clients even more effectively and to reach new customers quickly,” Keller said. “There are a lot of opportunities ahead of us right now, and we’re confident that we’re in great shape to take advantage of them.”