When mid-October rolls around, NCAA Division I men’s and women’s college basketball teams start the journey toward reaching the Final Four® and fulfilling lifelong dreams of cutting down nets and hoisting championship trophies.
At about the same time, the team at Timber Products Company’s Michigan facility begins its role in one of sport’s biggest events.
“When the players start practice, that’s when we begin accumulating the Maple that will be shipped to Connor Sports and made into the Final Four floors for both the men’s and women’s tournaments,” said Mike Larsen, Manager of Timber Products Company’s Michigan facility. “The wood becomes a whiter white in October when the leaves start to fall so it’s the optimal time to gather the material and make sure it’s uniform in appearance so the floors will look their best.”
To say that the Michigan team feels a sense of pride in supplying the material to Connor for the Final Four floors would be an understatement.
“We’re all basketball fans up here and we understand exactly where the material will wind up,” said Larsen. “When we see the floors on television it’s an emotional experience knowing that our wood is playing a part in those dreams of the student-athletes. We’re pretty proud of that.”
In addition to the Final Four floors, the wood is used to make floors for the Sweet 16 games as well as practice floors.
“There’s a substantial amount of wood that we have to source, dry and prepare for the floors,” said Larsen. “But we’ve been working with Connor for many years and know exactly what it needs so it can make the best floors possible.”
“Connor Sports is proud to be the official surface of the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tournaments,” said Lauren Gillian, marketing manager at Connor Sports. “We work hard with our partners to ensure that each of the 20 courts that meticulously display the NCAA brand are the highest quality when it comes to performance and appearance.”
When the games are over and the Final Four lights dim, the floors are often sold to the winning schools to cut up and share with alumni and players. Sometimes a little piece makes its way back to Timber Products’ Michigan plant, completing the cycle from start to finish.
“It’s always fun to see the journey complete when we get pieces of the floors after the tournaments,” said Larsen. “We make sure they get handed around the mills so everyone can touch them and be a part of the experience all over again.”
*This article was originally published on Woodworking Network's "Panel Talk".