Horner Flooring focus of KEDA

HOUGHTON – It’s probably the most-watched NBA highlight of the year: Clippers forward DeAndre Jordan catching a lob and throwing down a right-handed dunk, slamming hapless Piston Brandon Knight into the floor.

Playing an unnoticed but crucial supporting role in the countless YouTube clips and animated GIFs was a piece of the Copper Country.

The Clippers’ floor at the Staples Center in Los Angeles is just one of many throughout the world provided by Horner Flooring of Dollar Bay. Established in 1891, Horner Flooring has become one of the pre-eminent flooring companies in the world. It now supplies finished portable basketball floors, as well as unfinished strip flooring.

Doug Hamar, president and CEO of Horner Flooring, gave a presentation on the company’s history and its current status at Wednesday’s Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance meeting at the Magnuson Franklin Square Inn. (The normal meeting site, the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, was unavailable. Horner is installing new floors.)

Horner’s clients range from schools to arenas. About 30 percent of their customers are international, Hamar said.

Through renovations to its Dollar Bay facility, the company has become a zero waste manufacturer. Although it’s good for the company, Hamar said, they’ve had some disappointment from people with sauna stoves, who had often come there to get scrap wood.

Horner does all of its portable floor finishing procedures in-house, including sanding, two coats of sealing, game line and logo painting, and adding two coats of finish.

When it provided the flooring for this year’s NBA All-Star Game, Hamar enlisted his son and 14 or 15 of his friends to help put down about 600 stars on the floor.

“They were all over the floor like ants and what I thought was going to take six to eight hours ended up taking two hours – two hours, 10 pizzas, six 2-liter bottles of pop, and a lot of pats on the back,” he said.

While Horner was a longtime manufacturer of the floors for the NCAA Final Four, they were outbid several years ago. When it comes up for bid again in three years, Hamar isn’t sure they’ll bid on it.

“The whole dynamics of providing products to an association like the NCAA have changed … the expectation now is that ‘You will pay for us to use your product,'” he said. “It’s no longer them seeking out the best product.”

But Horner’s still plenty visible in national sports. Their floors will be used in the NCAA’s Big 10 Tournament in the United Center in Chicago. Recent additions include the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the Nuggets play, as well as the Clippers’ floor.

While the Clippers signed on this year, their fellow Staples Center, the Lakers, chose to keep their existing company.

“Over the past season, we’ve been going head-to-head with the competition … we’re getting very favorable results, I’m pleased to say,” Hamar said.