January 6/13, 2014; Volume 27/Number 18
By Steven Feldman
As the founder and former president of Centiva, Thomas Trissl is considered an innovator in design, color and aesthics. Now, a little more than three years after selling his company to Tarkett, Trissl is back in the innovation arena, but this time on the subfloor solution side.
Trissl is now the majority owner of HPS North America, which, among other things, serves as the exclusive importer of Schönox installation products to the North American marketplace. While the Rosendahl, Germany-based manufacturer of primers, repair mortars, floor leveling compounds and adhesives may not be well known on this continent as of yet, Schönox has been a household name in Europe for 120 years.
“The technology and innovation levels in the Schönox products are turning heads and changing the way people are doing subfloor projects,” Trissl said. His new company, which goes by the name TMT America, will provide operational, marketing and consulting services and will make investments to accelerate HPS’ brand development and distribution throughout North America.
The alliance between TMT America and HPS North America is the result of a random encounter in 2010. “During the process of selling Centiva, I ran into the president of Schönox, Helmut Twilfer,” Trissl recalled. “The company did not have any penetration in the U.S., although they have been focusing on floor leveling systems since 1949. When they approached me about launching the brand in North America, I was attracted to how they offer real solutions to critical subfloors, especially when it comes to those areas where bead blasting can be avoided.”
However, that was not Trissl’s first exposure to Schönox. “My father is a flooring contractor in Germany, so I was exposed to Schönox when I was running his business, long before I started Centiva,” he explained.” “Schönox was always a state-of-the-art, technology-driven company, especially when a solution was being sought on the renovation side. Its approach to the market is hands-on, on-site and solution-oriented.”
While Schönox markets more than 150 products in Europe, HPS North America doing business as HPS Schönox is starting small with between 25 and 30 offerings, the flagship line being its self-leveling, synthetic gypsum-based compounds called Schönox AP and Schönox APF. “Every installer is at the mercy of a good floor leveling product,” said Daniel Tallman, strategic business manager, HPS Schönox. “What you find happening in this country right now is that rather than taking part in new construction, we are reclaiming more old slabs. So you have to make the investment of a good floor leveling product.”
Trissl said his goal is to bring awareness to contractors and architects so when a floor is specified, the subfloor is not forgotten. “The problem is we don’t talk much about the subfloor. We talk about the product itself and we talk about the labor, and that is where the budget usually ends. Our purpose will be to bring awareness to the specification side to change all that.”
Why Schönox is different
One major advantage Schönox AP and Schönox APF self-leveling compounds have over competing products, Trissl noted, is the synthetic gypsum base. “There are two kinds of floor leveling products: the cement-based material with which the industry is familiar, and this new technology of a synthetic gypsum-based material,” he explained. “Older folks don’t like to hear the word ‘gypsum’ because it is mined from the earth, highly susceptible to mold, has varying quality and offers a very low psi.”
However, according to Trissl, synthetic gypsum has nothing to do with the type of product that usually comes to mind. “Synthetic gypsum is a post-consumer recycled material that turns into a fantastic leveling compound with many advantages, such as no shrinking and a very strong psi of up to 5,800. It can also go on top of many critical substrates creating, in essence, a brand new subfloor.” Thus, when an installer does not have to rip up a floor, there is a significant amount of time saved as well as a reduction in bee blasting and demolition costs.
Tallman added that Schönox AP and Schönox APF also offer safety and environmental advantages. “Any cement-based material contains a warning label which refers to skin irritation, eye irritation and the use of a respirator when mixing the material,” Trissl said. “With Schönox AP, APF or AST, such warning labels do not exist because it does not contain the chromates from the cement or any toxic particles. That makes these levelers the healthiest and most environmentally friendly products of their kind on the market.”
These products can also contribute to LEED certification, earning points in the following categories: IEQ 4.3 Low Emitting Materials-Flooring Systems; MR 1.1 Building Reuse Maintain Existing Walls, Floor and Roof; MR 1.2 Building Reuse Interior-Maintain Existing Interior Nonstructural Elements, and MR 4 Recycled Content.
The timing for Schönox self-leveling compounds hitting the market could not be better given the current trend of replacing carpet with resilient flooring such as sheet vinyl or LVT, simply because resilient requires a better prepared subfloor. “With ⅛1⁄8-inch gauge resilient flooring, the telegraphing of imperfections in the subfloor is quite substantial,” Trissl noted. “As VCT hid many of those imperfections, LVT, cushion and sheet vinyl do not. And the end user is very often unhappy with the installation because the subfloor was not prepared properly.”
Schönox floor levelers solve the problem of those deteriorated and stressed substrates. “Where patch was the standard in the past, the truth is that the customer desires a smoother and more even subfloor,” Trissl said. “Schönox even has a product called ZM Rapid which allows resilient floor covering to be installed in just one and a half to two hours after the leveler has been poured.”
Applying Schönox AP and APF is very simple. First, the subfloor is cleaned. Old adhesive can remain, but all loose particles and other foreign matter must be removed. As mentioned earlier, the previous floor can stay. Next, Schönox rollable primer should be used accordingly, drying between 15 and 20 minutes depending on site conditions. Schönox AP synthetic gypsum, in any thickness from 1⁄8-inch to 2 inches depending on jobsite conditions, is then applied. Within three to four hours you have a walkable, flat subfloor that is ready for new flooring the next morning.
Despite its many advantages over cement-based levelers, Schönox AP is more than competitive, Trissl said. HPS Schönox is reaching out to all flooring manufacturers as their subfloor products contribute to a better end result. The current goal is to establish national distribution.