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10 Memorable Moments from 10 years at Altro

Something a little different from us today. Altro’s Specification Manager for the North, Dave Ford, gives us an insight into working at Altro, in a format worthy of Top of the Pops.

A lot of us have been spending a proportion of our time over the lockdown months reflecting and thinking about when things were ‘normal.’ I’ve been at Altro for just over 10 years now and I’ve really come to appreciate some of the moments I’ve been lucky enough to experience with the best colleagues. Here are the top ten that come to mind:

1. Being an Estates Consultant – This was my first job at Altro at the tender age of 27. I remember one day I had my first appointment at a famous zoo, where I found myself in a room full of tortoises, snakes and other reptiles. The second was in a high secure ward in a hospital to suggest some options for the en-suites - escorted at all times and told not to engage with any of the patients, if at all possible. The final appointment was at a famous Birmingham chocolate factory, where we secured an Altro Screed Quartz specification for over 10,000m². I remember thinking: ‘what other job would you get to visit such a diverse range of places in one day?’

2. Site visits in prisons – This is another sector where our products are widely used. I had never been inside a prison before, let alone on the actual wings and in amongst the inmates. I found them mostly to be well-organised and calm environments. But there was one gentleman in particular who sticks in my memory; We wandered past while he was doing some gardening, but he asked the prison officer if he could come back onto the wing. He walked alongside us and seemed like a very genial and chatty old man, but it wasn’t until after we left him, that the prison officer informed me that he was a multiple murderer serving life.

3. Bauhausfest – In 2016, I, along with a number of colleagues, took a group of architects and designers to Dessau to celebrate Bauhausfest. We started with a tour of our German factory, and then witnessed an eclectic show of opera, Shakespeare, and people dancing to an oompah band, dressed up as Lego men and dinosaurs. A year’s worth of studying German in high school was not quite enough for me to understand what was going on, but luckily it was enough to order a round of beers. The night was topped by Altro hosting a party in the Bauhaus itself and was followed by a tour of the Masters’ houses the next day. It was a baptism of culture for me, but an unforgettable experience for the specifiers we took, who still talk about it to this day.

4. 100th Anniversary party – Last year, not only did the Bauhaus celebrate 100 years, but Altro also celebrated their centenary year. A select group of Altro employees arranged a top-secret party at the Royal Banqueting House in London, with a 1920s’ fancy dress theme. It was a wonderful event that showcased the special culture and bond that all the Altro Group employees share. I’m not sure the journey back in the morning was quite as lively, but on the night we saw a colourful array of peaky blinders costumes, cocktails and feather boas!

5. Becoming a manager – Three and a half years ago I became the manager of the Specification North Team. This was not something I thought would be possible when I joined Altro 10 years ago, but I got the job and now work with an absolutely amazing team. We all genuinely look forward to our sales meetings and a particular highlight was one in Kendal last year when the sun was shining in the Lakes! I can’t wait until we can meet up again (our next one is obviously postponed) - this time in the Peak District, and we’re really hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

6. Visiting a Formula 1 Team HQ – We had supplied flooring to them around 15 years ago and they were ready for a refurb, so I arranged a site visit with my Formula 1-mad Business Development colleague, Russ, to assist with the specification (which ended up being our heavy duty product Altro Reliance 25). We had a tour of the full facilities and the meeting ended with us witnessing a pit stop practice, which was an incredible experience. Another example of the unique experiences you get in the flooring and walls industry!

7. Taking a coach load of customers to Alton Towers – We do a lot of networking and events with architects and designers and we asked a group of them what they’d want to do, other than go out for drinks. They suggested Alton Towers, so we arranged a coach to pick a group up from the centre of Birmingham at 8:30am and take us to the theme park. It absolutely hammered it down all day, and the first thing we had to do was buy everyone a poncho. However a great time was had by all, and we were immediately asked if we could make this an annual event (which we would have done, had it not been for COVID 19).

8. London 2012 site visit – Altro hired the Team GB HQ prior to the games and we took a group of customers down for a tour and a great presentation from the Eden Project Architect, Michael Pawlyn, on biophilic design. As one of my colleagues had clearance for the site itself, we were able to take a few architects to wander around the main park and even walk into the Olympic stadium and stand on the 100m start line. I must have told my partner 100 times during the games that ‘I’ve stood there’ every time a race or event was on live.

9. Presenting my first product launch – This was around seven years ago when we first moved away from Altro Timbersafe and launched the next generation of wood-effect safety flooring, in the form of Altro Wood Safety. For some reason I’d agreed to present at three separate launch events in front of around 150 people with my colleague, and partner in crime, Russ. It was the first time we’d ever had to speak in front of such a huge amount of colleagues, and the nerves were building weeks in advance. Luckily it all went to plan and it’s still one of our most successful ranges, one that has recently been joined by our first adhesive-free wood look safety flooring.


10. Altro Care Forum – Altro have always had a strong presence in the social care sector, working closely with the DSDC for around 15 years. Four years ago we decided to hold the first ever Altro Care Forum, where we invited care group operators, architects and designers from across the world, to get together and share best practice and ideas around designing for dementia and the issues facing the care industry. It was a great example of how we can partner and work collaboratively with customers and it has now become an annual event. Watch out for the 2020 events where we’re opening up the invitations to our whole customer base and going digital for the first time!

Posted: 25/08/2020 13:47:38 by Lea Charnley | with 0 comments