Tiny City Firm Becomes a Giant in Artificial Turf / All-Pro's Product Installed for Major Colleges, Saudi Arabia under Faulkner
Nichols, Max, THE JOURNAL RECORD
To outsiders, Faulkner must have seemed like a gnat challenging a couple of elephants. Monsanto of St. Louis, which makes Astro Turf, and Super Turf of Dallas were the giants of the industry at that time. However, Faulkner saw a niche in the market for small jobs, such as sidelines and indoor surfaces.
"These were just too small for big companies to do efficiently at a low price," said Faulkner. "With my low overhead - a one-man office in Oklahoma City - I could install them for about $4 per square foot. That was about the same as the usual price for a large playing field."
Now, All-Pro Athletic Surfaces of Oklahoma City is becoming one of the giants, with more than $5 million in sales in 1985 and the same projected for 1986. Based at 8213 Classen Blvd. with up to 175 employees at peak periods, the firm has installed more than 50 major playing surfaces in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.
As a result, All-Pro is one of the best kept secrets in Oklahoma business. It is better known to national and world athletic directors than to the general public in Oklahoma.
Faulkner and John Linville, also a former coach, built All-Pro to sales of about $3.1 million in 1983, when it was merged with Crest-Nicholson PLC, a $100 million-a-year London firm which has produced artificial playing surfaces for years through a subsidiary called En-tout-cas.
That gave Faulkner and Linville the resources to go after international markets and increase production.
"All-Pro has made a profit every year since we started," said Faulkner, now president of All-Pro as a Crest-Nicholson subsidiary. "We have installed All-Pro Turf football fields at the universities of Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, plus Oregon State and Rutgers, and we have a new generation surface being installed at Yale.
"We also have concentrated on the European market, and we have completed 16 installations in Saudi Arabia."
Meanwhile, Super Turf has gone bankrupt, leaving All-Pro of Oklahoma City to compete with Monsanto and foreign firms for installing artifical turf on the playing surfaces of the world.
How did all this happen in just six years with few people realizing it in Oklahoma?
Well, it's a combination of developments.
- First of all, as former coaches, Faulkner and Linville understand the needs and frustrations of athletic directors and coaches - the line they must walk between economics and player safety. They speak the language of the tightly-knit athletic fraternity, which often feels misunderstood.
- Faulkner developed a product that combined the best of the giants six years ago - the surface of Super Turf and the underlying pad of Monsanto. The product has been improved with a polypropylene fiber tufted in a polyethylene pad, and it now carries a 10-year warranty.
Beyond that, the newest product, being installed at Yale, will include a layer of porous asphalt under the pad for drainage.
- All-Pro's overhead has been kept low. The firm now contracts with a Rome, Ga., firm called CAM for products using a Polyloom Corp. polypropylene fiber for the surface and a Dynamite/Noble polyethylene pad to All-Pro's specifications.
As a result, All-Pro operates with 10 full time office employees and seven full time employees to supervise installations. Part-time crews are added as needed for installations, including Oklahomans who travel to the sites.
The firm has four sets of installation equipment at about $100,000 each.
However, all that didn't just happen. The background of Faulkner and Linville in football led to a search for a surface that would meet the needs of athletic directors. …