Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, is a public doctoral research institution serving more than 16,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Sports play an important role in student life at
this NCAA Division 1 school. On game days, up to 3,000 fans fill the Athletics Center O’rena to cheer their basketball and volleyball teams, known as the Golden Grizzlies, to victory.
Student athletes play on “The Blacktop,” a painted wood floor so unique it earns a mention on the Athletics Center O’rena’s Wikipedia page. Fans can even buy “Welcome to the Blacktop” Oakland Basketball gear.
Andy Adrianse, associate athletics director, relies on the battery-powered AutoVac Stretch™ from Kaivac to keep The Blacktop in top shape. But, as Adrianse explains, good maintenance is more than just aesthetics. “Pivoting, cutting, and making other athletic moves on a dirty floor can lead to injury,” he says. “If the floor negatively influences outcomes, we are going to hear about it from our coaches.”
Complaints about the floor were common before purchasing the Kaivac machine five years ago. Adrianse blames their old cleaning method, dragging the floor with towel-wrapped plank. Not just inefficient, (“cleaning this way took hours,” says Adrianse) the tool might scratch The Blacktop’s polyurethane finish. An autoscrubber would be faster, but the machine’s rotating pads
still posed a scratching risk.
Adrianse looked to the pros for a better solution. “The Detroit Pistons played nearby, and their facilities department swore by their Kaivac, so I bought one.”
As a result, cleaning improved right out of the gate. “I vividly remember the first time we ran the Kaivac. I could see a ‘track’ where it removed the dirt the other method left behind. The comparison was stark.”
The machine worked faster too, servicing 18,000 square feet in just 45 minutes instead of hours. This speed lets the four-person facility team use their Kaivac machine more often and in more
parts of the Athletics Center O’rena building.
During basketball season, staff clean the main court floor two to three hours before each game and three to four more times during that week.
Adrianse admits that the AutoVac Stretch costs more than a plank with a towel wrapped around it but would never consider another option. “The Blacktop’s unique look gets a lot of national attention. Other schools always ask how I maintain it,” he says. “Kaivac definitely created a loyal customer in me.”