Name: Merrick Smith
Company: Peter Newman Flooring Ltd.
Job Title: managing director
How did you get into the flooring industry?
It’s the family business; I’ve inherited it from my father. I started working with him when I was 16, as soon as I left school.
What’s been the biggest change in the industry over the past 10 years?
Technology has been responsible for most of the change in the industry over the past 10 years. I mean the impact of computers and mobile technology rather than advances in product technology – improved adhesives and levelling compounds have made our lives easier, but installing floorcoverings has remained fundamentally the same. When I started, we had a calculator in the office, but no computer – now we can’t function without one.
Looking forward, what do you think will be the biggest change in the next 10 years?
Technology will continue to advance, but not at the rate it has done, in my opinion. We can expect new products with innovative combinations of properties – we’ve already got moisture-tolerant adhesives that provide instant grab and levelling compounds that dry in 30 minutes. I expect 3D printing to be big in the coming years, allowing bespoke floorcoverings to be printed directly onto a subfloor.
What’s the worst job you’ve been on?
I could say that I have a least favourite category of job. This is hotel and restaurant kitchen refurbishments. Not only do you have to clean up clean food debris and grease that has sometimes built up over years, the owners don’t want the kitchen to close if possible, so you have to work to tight deadlines.
And what’s the best?
It was a huge project at a leisure complex in Poole with a cinema, restaurants and ten-pin bowling alleys. We were contracted to install the majority of floorcoverings throughout the project. There were lots of custom-made carpets and bespoke designs to install, so it was challenging and it all looked great in the end. In terms of job satisfaction, that was the best as it was the first major project that I had handled from start to finish and some of the products are still in situ today.
Do you have a go-to product for certain jobs?
No. Our work is so varied, and we work with such a wide variety of floorcoverings, so we don’t use a particular product more than any other.
What do you like best about the job?
The diversity of it means you never get bored. We work with a huge variety of products, in a wide range of settings. You can be installing carpet in someone’s house one day; the next day, you will be working with LVTs in a new block of apartments. And it pays me a decent wage. There was no way I could’ve worked in a bank, just counting money all day, that’s for sure.
What is your least favourite thing about the job?
There are two things: the first is when you’re expected to complete work in an insufficient timescale; the other is chasing people for money.