Flooring the NBA: Ishpeming company supplies Cavs – from the Marquette Mining Journal
The new Cleveland Cavaliers portable basketball floor to be installed at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland finishes drying inside a warehouse at Robbins Inc. in Ishpeming Wednesday. The floor will be disassembled, packed and shipped to the arena Friday. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
ISHPEMING – With 19 of 30 National Basketball Association teams playing on floors constructed by Robbins Sport Surfaces, it’s fair to say the Ishpeming company has built a reputation for being a team player.
The 20 men and women working at the company’s facility – the only production site that manufactures the portable floors for RSS – believe they have a great deal to do with that reputation, plant manager Roger Kipling said.
“Everybody here takes great pride in knowing that they’re building a floor for the NBA,” Kipling said. “Every employee here has had something to do with building it.”
Kipling said one of the aspects of the floors that make them so desirable is its portability. At approximately 175 pounds apiece, the 4-foot by 8-foot panels can be set up or dismantled in a matter of hours.
“In a lot of places, they’ll play a basketball game one night, then pick up the floor and be playing hockey the next,” he said.
According to Kipling, an average floor, which typically measures 114 feet by 57 feet, takes about six weeks to construct and uses approximately 7,500 square feet of northern hard maple.
The ease of access to highly desirable northern hard maple, found in abundance in Michigan and Wisconsin, makes the Ishpeming facility an ideal location for making the floors.
“It’s the perfect spot,” Kipling said.
Kipling said that the first three weeks are spent cutting and assembling the panels. The remaining three weeks are spent sanding the assembling floor, painting team logos and graphics, and applying a protective sealant.
The company’s latest floor for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which has been finished and is drying in one of the facility’s large workshops, will be disassembled, packed and shipped to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland Friday.
“It’s unlike any other floor in the NBA today,” Kipling said.
The Cavaliers’ floor was the most technically difficult Robbins has made, Kipling said, due to extensive graphics that had to be hand painted.
The company has also built portable floors for other NBA teams – including the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and L.A. Lakers – as well as the Nanjing Sports Center in China for the China National Games, the Asian Games in Qatar, and a number of colleges, universities and civic centers across the nation.
The Ishpeming facility also manufactures permanent floors, which have been installed locally at Ishpeming High School and the Aspen Ridge School.
“To create these floors takes quite a collaborative effort,” finishing line supervisor Frank Misale said. “We get the added bonus of being able to see what we’ve done on TV – it brings us a tremendous sense of pride.”