Congratulations to Foster Specialty Floors on winning the annual Robbins Sports Surface of the Year contest for the Breslin Center installation at Michigan State University. Foster Specialty Floors, an exclusive Robbins dealer, was chosen by an impartial panel of judges who reviewed countless top-notch projects within the Robbins dealer network, which spans six continents and reaches more than 65 countries!

The 2017 project was named the contest winner based on the level of quality in both system selected and installation. And while the installation of 17,000 square feet of the MVP® flooring system turned out beautifully, the project was quite complex and required a lot of dedication and hard work from Foster to achieve perfection.

Since 1924, the family-owned Foster Specialty Floors has provided excellent products and workmanship for numerous clients. However, when Jordan Foster, part of the fourth Foster generation, took on the role of vice president of sales a decade ago, he made it his personal goal to acquire the high-profile Michigan State University basketball team as a client.

He intensified his pursuit in 2013 and began calling anyone at the university who would give him audience. Two years later he began meeting with the deputy athletic director to discuss the elite MVP system.

“This was the best floor out there for high-level facilities, for Michigan State-type facilities,” Jordan said. “This floor was designed, in my opinion, for that type of customer.”

While Jordan was working that angle, officials at MSU already had Robbins and the MVP on their radar. MSU officials realized they needed to support athlete health and safety by installing the best practice floor, which is where players spend the most time, so they had been researching new flooring options.

“We wanted something that was going to be better for the student athlete and something that was going to last,” said MSU Men’s Basketball Athletic Trainer Nick Richey.

Based on glowing recommendations from doctors at St. Vincent Sports Medicine, an affiliate of the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Richey contacted Robbins Regional Manager Kevin Price about the MVP.

“Typically in our business we don’t get a call from the head athletic director,” Price said. “But once they understood the biomechanical aspect of the MVP and how the system worked and how it protected their athletes, it seemed to make their decision a little bit easier.”

It also helped that Foster and Robbins took MSU officials on a road trip to nearby Hillsdale College, another Foster Specialty Floors SSOTY winner. Hillsdale is unique in that Foster tied the MVP system into the Bio-Channel Classic, so Richey and his crew were able to compare the two systems literally side by side. Once they felt the difference, it was MVP all the way for their two full-size practice courts at the Breslin Center.

“Our guys feel like they notice a difference between the practice floor and the game floor,” Richey explained. “There’s more bounce to the practice floor, it gives the feeling that it’s not quite like running on a regular, old standard gym floor. They feel like some of the shock absorbing capabilities of the floor are beneficial.”

He also commented in a recommendation letter written for Robbins that they have seen a reduction in soft tissue injuries compared with the previous year, and hope to see a reduction in stress reaction injuries in the future.

It wasn’t just the tough sell of a premium product that made this project SSOTY-worthy. It was also Foster’s frequent long days working nearly around the clock to get the job finished before students returned to school. As part of a bigger renovation, the floor installation wasn’t set to occur until 2018, but a construction issue led to significant damage of the previous floor, accelerating the construction schedule.

“The whole process went really fast,” Jordan said. “What was going to take a year to plan and bid and figure out got kind of crushed into the next month.”
But Jordan and his team would do anything to satisfy the perennial top ten Spartans.

“Foster was here the week after the Fourth of July and they worked from really the Fourth of July through the month of July, to have our floor serviceable when our guys got back here at the end of August,” Richey said.

Richey said everyone at MSU has been thoroughly satisfied with the floor and noted that if Robbins made a portable MVP system, they would likely use it as their competition floor.

For Jordan, presenting to MSU, the reigning Big Ten Conference champs, and winning the contract that ultimately led to the Sports Surface of the Year Award has been a great source of pride.
“I was ecstatic to get the job,” Jordan said. “For me it was a big accomplishment.”