Pulastic Combi System provides versatility for new fieldhouse in Forest Lake, MN

What do you do when you want your sports flooring to perform like hardwood, but you need a durable surface to accommodate a multitude of needs? Easy – you install a Robbins Pulastic® Combi System that offers the best of both worlds, combining a synthetic surface over a hardwood subfloor.

That’s exactly what officials at Forest Lake Area Schools in Minnesota did when they were constructing a new field house. Forest Lake Area High School Principal Jim Caldwell said because the new field house would be extensively used by more than 2,000 students plus the larger community for various purposes, they needed a multisport surface that was low maintenance but functioned much like a regular basketball court.

Caldwell said the floors in the field house are used by students in gym class and by the Rangers’ dance, volleyball, basketball and baseball teams.

”Not only do we service our community during the school day, but in the evenings after 6 o’ clock, community ed takes over and those floors are used for community ed volleyball, basketball, soccer, you name it,” Caldwell said. “There’s a lot of traffic on those floors throughout the school year.”

So when Patrick Duffy, senior associate at Anderson Ladd and authorized Robbins dealer, was working with the client to determine the right fit for their flooring, the Combi system seemed perfect. Duffy had previously installed Robbins competition and practice gym flooring for the school district.

“We went through that process to find out what their wants and needs were, what the highest priorities in athletics were, what the lowest priorities were, and provided that solution,” Duffy said. “They wanted a versatile floor, a synthetic floor that could be used for multiple things, yet wanted the performance of a wood floor. So by understanding that, we arrived at the Combi system as being the best solution to meet their needs.”

Since the two-phase project valued at upwards of $2 million was awarded through a national cooperative purchasing program known as Sourcewell (formerly NJPA), of which Robbins is an authorized vendor, Forest Lake knew they were getting quality products and service. Being part of Sourcewell means you’re a vetted, trusted partner with a good reputation.

Duffy said it ensures owners aren’t getting stuck with the low bid, which can mean low quality and service, or dealing with multiple change orders or faulty products.

“We were able to work with them, write the specifications and go through a process where they knew exactly what they were getting, exactly who they were getting it from, and it allows them to really be able to select things that are important to them,” Duffy detailed. “They have a passion for the athletic side of it and wanted to provide the highest quality they coul

d and still maintain a reasonable budget and be comfortable with the project.”

In December of 2017, Anderson Ladd completed phase one of the installation: 40,000 square feet of a Pulastic Classic 90 over a Bio-Cushion® Classic subfloor at the field house. Duffy said it’s a premium product, but the long-term investment for owners and users has lower life cycle costs and lower maintenance than a typical wood floor.

“We have installations that are 15 years old that have just received their first maintenance on the floor as far as resurfacing goes,” Duffy said. “The owners are still absolutely in love with the floor, the system, the performance, and floors are in excellent condition in an environment that’s being used 12 to 14 hours a day, quite often seven days a week.”

While the Combi systems are rarely seen in the United States, Duffy said they’ve installed five of them in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area primarily because their climate requires them to build field houses because they play sports indoors for nearly six months out of the year.

“These field houses are built for multiple uses. They’re actually almost like a community center,” Duffy explained. “They’re working closely with community education and community athletics, so the spaces require a higher level of performance that’s not the standard run-of-the mill gymnasium.”

Phase two, the installation of the same Combi floor in the new Forest Lake Area Middle School gym addition, was completed just prior to the start of this school year. District officials have been pleased with both new floors and would recommend Robbins again.

“It really functions very much like a regular basketball court with the rubber underlayment and the padded polyurethane surface on top,” Caldwell said. “When you’re bouncing a ball or doing those things it really reacts just like a regular basketball court would.”

Plus, Caldwell said the new floor has opened up more options for students and the community.

“It’s increased the activity options as far as community ed goes with being able to host large basketball tournaments and volleyball tournament and things like that,” Caldwell continued. “We’ve increased the capacity within our building to host large events.”