South Dakota Hotel on the Cutting Edge of Design

Floor Covering Weekly - November 6, 1995

The Business Newspaper of the Floor Covering Industry

BY CATHERINE MULLADY

Keith Youngquist, AIA, Aumiller-Youngquist PC; Karim Merali, owner of the soon-to-be Radisson hotel; and Harri Aalto of Creative Edge Corp.

PLANNING: (From left) Keith Youngquist, AIA, Aumiller-Youngquist PC; Karim Merali, owner of the soon-to-be Radisson hotel; and Harri Aalto of Creative Edge Corp.

Irv Gackowski, chairman of Custom Flooring in Itasca, Illinois, said he is contemplating buying a Plow system for about $225,000. "We feel we can do a better job by hand but not as straight," he said.

In couple of months he will probably make the move, he said, because competition is forcing him to provide water-jet cutting. He anticipates water-jet cutting will increase his sales volume from $350,000 to $500,000 in two years.

The advantage of water-jet cutting to Gackowski is with repetitious work. He gave the example of doing a design for a retail chain with many locations. A water-jet system would enable Custom Flooring to duplicate the design as many times as necessary.

Granite was chosen for the exterior for its durability and non-slippage. Resilient was selected for the restaurant while stone and 12 x 12 tile will be employed in the lobby.

"You can combine ceramic tile and marble as long as you use it aesthetically and interestingly, and it doesn't stand out like a sore thumb," he said. "There is so much flexibility if you know how to use it."

The floor designs are scheduled to be completed in January. In addition to Aalto, architect Keith Youngquist, AIA, of Aumiller-Youngquist was hired for the project. Merali also connected with the Radisson organization and soon that banner will be flying above the hotel.■

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. - An Increasing number of people are cutting vinyl floors with water-jet systems. While residential floor customization remains the province of individual mechanics who cut designs by hand with a knife, intricate commercial designs that cover larger areas are growing the water-jet business.

"In the last year there has been a tremendous increase of the awareness of architects and designers using water jet and various materials," said Harri Aalto, co-owner and creative director of Creative Edge Corp. "Tile stone industry has been using water jet for years, but for some reason in the last year the ceramic and resilient industries have really taken it up."

Aalto's resilient business is growing 30 percent to 40 percent each year. The jobs arc bigger, he said. Small restaurant logo jobs have grown into malls and stadiums.

"We are currently doing a large resilient floor of sports figures in one of the stadiums in Chicago,"

Aalto said. "It's intricate cutting using many different colors. It's the kind of stuff you wouldn't want to cut by hand, even though resilient has traditionally been cut by band."

Water-jet technology is still expensive but is becoming increasingly competitive. Flow International Corp., which was founded on ultra-high-pressure, water-jet technology about 20 years ago, in March introduced complete water-jet cutting systems for under $100,000.

Both Flow's Badger and AD-4800 Flying Bridge offer a 55,000-pound-per-square-inch pump, a water-jet or Paser abrasive water-jet system. The Badger is based on a 486/66MHz personal computer and the AD-4800 is computer numerically controlled (CNC). The Badger's cutting area is 2 x 3 feet and the AD-4800 Flying Bridge's cutting area is 4 x 8 feet.

Armstrong uses a Flow water-jet system to cut feature strips for commercial tile. "We've been doing it for years for commercial tile insets and borders," said Jim Humphrey, senior vice president of sales and marketing floor division.