Ohio Floor Co. of Holmes County makes its mark from NCAA to NBA
PRAIRIE TWP. – Not all high school basketball players can perform on college courts or NBA arena courts.
But some former players in this area helped make the floors on which college and professional basketball games are played.
Larry Wade, marketing manager for The Ohio Floor Company near Shreve, said he and another company executive, Kevin Miller, grew up playing basketball for Garaway.
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“We loved the game and we often talk about where we’re from, and now we’re doing NBA floors,” said Wade, who joined the company in the late 1980s. here and there. There were six of us at the time. If you had told us what we are doing now, we would have thought you were crazy.”
Ohio Floor has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three decades.
“We did floors for the Olympics, sent floors overseas. We did floors for the World Cup in China,” Wade said. “To think this is even possible is a testament to the owners of the company and their willingness to take risks to grow in this area.”
Steve Yoder started Ohio Floor with a few accounts he bought from a relative, George Bear of Bear Floor Sanding in Sugarcreek, in the early 1980s.
“He took it from a guy and a sander to an international company some 35, 40 years later,” Wade said. “This business has grown through good work and word of mouth. Work essentially sells itself.”
Wade learned the business from scratch – literally. He started his career cutting and sanding floors, before moving into marketing for the company.
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Wade calls Ohio Floor one of Holmes County’s hidden gems. The main office is on County Road 1, just west of State Road 83. They also have a warehouse in the Holmesville Industrial Park on County Road 245.
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At a 30,000-square-foot building near Holmesville, employees do finishing work on portable floors for the NCAA and NBA, Wade said.
“I often wonder how many people walk past there every day and have no idea what’s going on in those buildings,” he said.
“The locals do all the work. We don’t ship people from all over the country,” he continued. “It’s the people who grew up in this neighborhood who made their careers working on these prestigious floors.”
The company is focusing on NCAA floors through the end of February to get the product ready in time for March Madness.
“It’s pretty cool to see the floors being worked on in that warehouse and then a month later to see it on TV at one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the NCAA Final Four tournament” , did he declare. “And the floor was made right here in our own backyard.”
How Ohio Floor made it into the big leagues
The company also has a residential side, making flooring for bedrooms, kitchens and hallways. They will refurbish existing hardwood floors or install new pre-finished floors and unfinished materials, where sanding and finishing will be done on site.
“The NCAA is the one that a lot of people are interested in, but our company does several things,” Wade said.
A recent expansion allows the company to carry out personalized prefacing of stairs and floors. A graphic arts division produces temporary designs on gymnasium floors.
About 10 years ago, Connor Sports Floors, a manufacturer of portable sports floors, began subcontracting its finishing work to The Ohio Floor Company, which helped the local business rise into the big leagues. .
“They’re sending us a floor to the semi-finals,” Wade explained. “We unload it and set it up in our factory, sand it, paint it, finish it, put it on shelves and let it dry. Once it’s done, we ship it to where they sold it. .”
For example, the Brooklyn Nets purchase a floor from Connor, who produces it, then ships it to Ohio Floor where it is finished and then delivered to its home arena.
Each backboard in a basketball court is about the size of a table, Wade said, noting that about 195 backboards make up a floor.
“The panels lock with a pin, so they become permanently attached together, but not permanently attached to the floor of the facility,” Wade said. “Once you put them all together, they’re so heavy they’re not going anywhere.”
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Dave McMillen believes teenage basketball fans can connect with the game and find a career through Ohio Floor.
McMillen is an instructor in the construction and trades program at West Holmes Schools.
“A lot of people here are passionate about basketball,” he said, “but statistically speaking, it’s going to be tough to make a living dribbling a basketball.”
Wade said it’s important for businesses in the area to bolster the local school workforce. He said students, and sometimes their teachers, were part of Ohio Floor’s summer workforce when the staff almost doubled in size.
The company works in high school and college gymnasiums when schools are closed for the summer, Wade said. Projects include stripping and installing new flooring, sanding and changing logos, or cleaning floors and adding a new topcoat.
“We have three months to do all this work, so we hire extra workers, and these high school kids come to help us,” he said.
High school teachers also work at Ohio Floor during the summer to lead student teams.
“If you start with a passion for basketball, you could do the groundwork for the New Jersey Nets,” McMillen said. “I think that’s pretty cool.”