Exploring New Avenues in Green Rubber

Mondo Contract Flooring

If you’re a high-performance athlete, or simply working on your feet all day, the importance of flooring is paramount. As the world’s leading rubber-flooring provider, The Mondo Group boasts over 70 years of history and development making Olympic athletes – and us, the common worker – perform better and feel healthier.

With operations in North America and around the world, Mondo manufactures premium quality rubber materials designed to maximize user comfort and performance, while simultaneously pushing the envelope on environmentally-responsible flooring development.

Mondo traces its lineage to 1948, when Edmondo Giovanni Stroppiana and his family opened a small shop in the northern Italian town of Alba, using part of his own first name to christen the new company.

Edmondo’s sons, Elio and Feruccio, started working with rubber as their primary raw material. Mondo first manufactured adhesives for bicycle tires before expanding into rubber balls for the local sport of Pallapungo. From the outset, the Stroppianas were positioned to take the unique benefits of virgin rubber and find innovative processes to transform it into high-performance products that the world had not previously benefited.

Growth followed quickly, with Mondo winning a contract to manufacture 500,000 Pallapungo balls for the sport’s national league in 1950.

From balls to flooring
The Stroppiana family leadership quickly mastered the intricacies of industrial rubber vulcanization and mass production, and gradually shifted the company’s focus to rubber flooring. Elio Stroppiana always had a passion for track and field and believed that he could revolutionize the industry by manufacturing the first premanufactured track surface.

Word of this new miracle track surface spread quickly, and Mondo became a leading provider to the Italian National Olympic Committee and then, official track supplier to the 1976 Olympics. This honor would become a tradition, with Mondo being an official supplier for every Olympic Games since, up to and including the 2021 Tokyo games.

But in addition to sports surfaces, Mondo has used its experience in vulcanized rubber production to expand its product offering to the education, healthcare, and commercial sectors. Over the past 15 years, Mondo Contract Flooring has rapidly grown and is well vested in its traditional K-12, College/University market segment. It has seen massive expansion in the Healthcare market segment, creating many new standards within U.S. Healthcare systems, including many prestigious entities such as the Mayo Clinics. Other venues include transportation, government, assisted living, and even cultural landmarks such as Toronto’s CN Tower.

Today, Mondo ships its flooring products to contractors across Canada and the United States, ensuring clients everywhere can benefit from the superb flooring the company provides. With proprietary machinery, unceasing research, and proven, highly sophisticated production techniques, Mondo brings its clients the highest-quality rubber flooring available anywhere today.

Family values
Despite Mondo’s extensive history, the company has never lost focus on its mission. Mondo is still proudly family-owned and operated, with the Stroppiana family continuing to take a prominent role. U.S. Director of Sales Garret Davelaar remarks how this consistent leadership has ensured Mondo’s evolving success. “It’s a testament to them and their ingenuity to have this company continually innovating and pushing the limits of performance and sustainability,” he says.

Additionally, the family atmosphere creates a culture of close communication and teamwork. Technical Product Specialist Erika Marcoux says that Mondo’s leadership, with its strong Italian heritage, understands that results come from motivated employees.

“They really understand that the positive results that we’ve come to expect come from good people that are continuously working hard together,” she says, and she remarks on how common it is at the company to see co-workers going out of their way to assist their colleagues and clients.

Additionally, many corporate-level employees have previously spent time in the field with sales teams, helping prevent the disconnects and resulting rifts that can occur in sprawling international companies. The company’s strong focus on customer service further reflects its family leadership and close inter-staff relationships.

In addition to its family-oriented company culture and strong focus on customer service, Mondo has the advantage of experience not only in materials but manufacturing infrastructure.

A niche found
As a world leader in rubber flooring production, Mondo literally invented its niche by designing much of the technology and equipment that it uses to this day. For Davelaar, this is another pillar in Mondo’s well-constructed philosophy of focusing on the needs of diverse markets and the end users that live within them.

Davelaar illustrates that there is the delicate balance between performance, durability and design qualities rubber flooring can provide, which therefore require an equally delicate set of manufacturing parameters. “It’s a true science and an art form, to be able to produce flooring the way Mondo does,” he says.

The truth is that decades of research into the biomechanics of the body’s response to different flooring materials have helped create and refine Mondo’s current product lines.

With equal focus on performance and safety, Mondo’s engineers begin with the end user in mind – a teacher, an athlete, or maybe a medical professional – and create flooring materials to meet their needs. Going far beyond just the inward-looking development of manufacturing capabilities, Mondo’s research extends to the optimum protection and promotion of the user’s unique capabilities and limitations. Each division, both Sport and Contract, have dedicated manufacturing facilities, which allows them to adapt and focus on the nuances and needs of each market.

Dual durometer technology
Of significant advantage to the company is its Dual Durometer Technology, which allows high performance values within the wear layer and other specific values in the underlayment. “You create, essentially, one monolithic piece of flooring, but with two distinct hardnesses.”

Davelaar explains how the denser wear (performance) layer receives all the rolling and static loads and is designed for durability and ease of maintenance, while the softer underlayer provides the shock absorption required for superior comfort and acoustics, along with the ability to accommodate recycled content. “What we’re able to do is really fine-tune our formulas and the manufacturing process to be able to meet the direct needs of each of our segments.”

Through its proprietary equipment, technology and processes, Mondo is able to field a very wide product array of premium rubber flooring in both sheet and tiles, available in 2 to 5mm thicknesses. Products are available in static dissipative versions and Mondo is able to easily customize products based on design and functionality.

With all the performance and durability boxes checked, Mondo also boasts Italian design elements that are unique in the North American market. Rubber flooring was long thought of as the studded rubber tiles used mostly for their practicality. Mondo has been able to use state of the art manufacturing processes to push the limits of the design and color possibilities of rubber flooring. Innovative design solutions are the result of an open dialogue with planners and designers, some quite well known such as Ponti, Mollino, Albini and Sottsass. These collaborations resulted in products such as Kayar, where the actual surface of the material was modified by adding coconut fibers to its composition. Massetto, a recent product, has a smooth surface featuring a spatula effect, which exudes the imperfections of artisan craftsmanship.

While this product range rounds out Mondo’s already comprehensive current offerings, the company never stops researching.

A percentage of global revenue is reinvested in R&D, both internal and external. An external example is a recent partnership with the University of Calgary’s Department of Kinesiology, Human Performance Laboratory. “Mondo mandated a study to investigate comfort and biomechanical properties of different resilient surfaces in comparison to their own,” Davelaar says.

“The Human Performance Lab was instrumental in providing biomechanical insight of the development of our sport products, including that of the Olympic track surface,” Davelaar notes. “We wanted their expertise in defining comfort parameters and the impact on our contract products – essentially how the choice of flooring impacts doctors, nurses and educators with respect to their health and wellbeing.”

Care for the environment
As part of its mandate, Mondo is working to make its flooring and manufacturing processes more environmentally sustainable.

The company already uses substantial wind, solar, and water power in its two manufacturing plants. 4,173 solar panels on a manufacturing roof are reducing carbon emissions by 600 tons annually.

The company’s commitment to sustainability has already been recognized several times, including with receipt of the coveted GREENGUARD Gold certification. “We’re very proud to have that level of certification. We were not satisfied with simply obtaining floorscore,” Davelaar says. Others include national environmental certificates from Mondo’s international clients, including GECA (Australia) and Blue Angel (Germany).

A new vision
A recently unveiled environmental sustainability plan outlines Mondo’s vision as it moves forward, including a new flooring material currently under development.

“The intention is for it to be a flagship Green product,” Marcoux says, and explains how it will achieve zero-carbon status in keeping with Canada’s desire to be net-zero by 2050. “It’ll be something different from anything we’ve done in the past,” she says. The new product (hopefully the first of many), will likely be unveiled in 2023.

As Mondo continues to grow, and to champion the installation of environmentally responsible rubber flooring, it is this environmentalism that will drive the company forward.

“While we were happy to see that our emissions were relatively low in terms of the product’s lifespan, we knew that we wanted to dive a little bit further into this subject and work to further reduce our emissions,” Marcoux says. “Mondo’s mindset and ultimate goal is to achieve zero carbon emissions, so we’ve embarked upon that journey, and we’re very enthusiastic for what the future holds for us.”

Mondo’s new practice of using Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) is helping it further examine its production materials and how they can be improved. The company is also currently seeking Cradle-to-Cradle certification, a non-profit initiative which seeks to introduce more natural materials in modern products.

On the research side, Mondo is expanding further into the Life Sciences market. “It’s a segment that we believe we can have a tremendous impact on,” Davelaar remarks. “With all the qualities of rubber, from acoustics, comfort and chemical resistance, to ease of maintenance, our products are just perfect for those applications.”

As Mondo looks to the future, the company places strong confidence in its resilience and research abilities. “The growth opportunity for Mondo is just tremendous,” Davelaar says, remarking how Mondo intends to re-release many of its central product lines with more environmentally-friendly variants.”

And Marcoux’s final word? “In the world of resilient flooring, we’re seeing premium rubber flooring increase its market share exponentially, because of performance.” She also sees high potential for Green flooring, and is confident Mondo has the resources to meet this challenge.

“Our plan is defined for what’s available now, but there is also room for growth – to examine what’s to come.”

June 13, 2021, 5:31 PM EDT