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Rapid Response Team

As of March 2017, Polytan has a subsidiary that is dedicated to the cleaning, maintenance and repair of sports facilities. Polytan Service GmbH (PSG) has been writing its success story ever since. We spoke to Managing Director Felix Friedel about the development of the Polytan subsidiary and its future.

ON TOP: You’ve managed PSG ever since it was founded in March 2017. Why was the subsidiary created at that time?

Felix Friedel: Polytan has always carried out repairs and maintenance on sports surfaces. This ran alongside the normal installation business. However, we noticed that, as Polytan, we were too big and inflexible. Service personnel were often pulled off repair jobs to work on bigger projects. Pitch or running track operators don’t want to wait months for a gap in the installation team’s schedule just for a little repair. A broken penalty spot or heavily soiled running track may not seem too bad at first glance, but it does bother athletes a great deal. That’s why we founded PSG six years ago, to handle such jobs more quickly and flexibly.

ON TOP: So PSG is a small, flexible group of specialists?

Felix Friedel: Yes and no. Of course, we have our experts for cleaning and repairs. But in some cases, colleagues have to master multiple different disciplines. The aforementioned penalty spot is just one example. If a miniature playing fields also has broken boards or nets, our colleagues often repair those at the same time. Installations are performed by a series of different crews, who all have their specialist area. 

ON TOP: Do you only do repairs and cleaning?

Felix Friedel: That’s what we started with, but we now also carry out smaller installation jobs. For example, we install fall-protection surfaces, as found on playgrounds. However, service remains our core business; you could say we are the mobile workshop of Polytan. Thanks to the flexibility and versatility of the installers at Polytan Service GmbH, we are also able to try out new products. For example, we have installed Laykold surfaces or SYNLawn synthetic turf. We also conduct development work. For example, we developed ClearTurf M1 and M2 for the optimal cleaning of hockey pitches, or our innovative filter system, the “Water Washer”, to filter the dirty cleaning water from running tracks (see page 63).

ON TOP: Do you only work on Polytan pitches and running tracks?

Felix Friedel: No, we accept orders of almost every kind. When you are dry-cleaning a synthetic turf or washing a running track, the manufacturer of the turf or track is fairly irrelevant.

ON TOP: You just mentioned wet and dry cleaning. What’s the difference?

Felix Friedel: On a running track, it makes sense to clean it wet. It’s a solid surface that can be “washed”. Of course, we could also wet-clean synthetic turf, but this consists of different components, such as sand. If we were to wet-clean a filled synthetic turf system, all the fine particles would be washed into the pores of the system. This would reduce its water-permeability. It would damage the playing characteristics, and would be no more effective than dry cleaning. That’s why I almost always recommend dry cleaning for synthetic turf. We clean as gently as possible to extend the lifespan of the facility. On unfilled synthetic turf, such as hockey pitches, intensive wet cleaning is recommended. Due to the pile height of around one to two centimetres, it picks up organic andmineral contaminants from the environment. Hockey players prefer a damp playing field. This can lead to algae growth. A four-millimetre layer of dirt can amount to an entire truckload per field.

ON TOP: You also mentioned the speed of PSG. Why is that so important to you?

Felix Friedel: Nobody likes to wait a long time for a repair. That’s the case whether your heating breaks down at home, the coupling packs in on your car, or a sports facility is no longer fully functional. Imagine you are building a house. It often takes a year before the diggers roll in. You need to get planning permission from the council, the tradesmen need to be organised and coordinated, and much more. Then, eventually, you move in and something breaks. Preferably, you want the repairman to be at your door within half an hour. It’s no different for a sports facility. From planning to tendering to installation – there are lots of different people involved before the ball can start rolling or the first races can be run. With us, all it takes is a phone call. The job is discussed over the phone and completed as quickly as possible by our specialists. After the work is complete, the customer receives a feedback form with which to evaluate us. Our customers’ feedback then helps us to improve. We also have a traffic maintenance obligation. This means, among other things, that accident risks have to be directly avoided.

ON TOP: Functionality has to be restored as soon as possible, but are there any other reasons?

Felix Friedel: Yes; the pitch operator has a legal traffic maintenance obligation. If there is any risk of an accident, it has to be remedied as soon as possible. If not, this can have consequences for the operator. With this in mind, it is in their interest to have the facilities regularly cleaned and maintained. 

ON TOP: Are there any differences in the technology used by PSG and that of Polytan?

Felix Friedel: Yes, in many respects. Usually, we don’t need the big installation machines. Our biggest machine is the Polymobil, our cleaning vehicle. Just like our colleagues at Polytan, we are constantly developing our technologies or even inventing new devices. Developing our own technology is part of our business and differentiates us from the competition too. 

ON TOP: How big is PSG and what sets it apart from the competition?

Felix Friedel: At the moment, we have around 45 employees who work in four different regions of Germany. This allows us to quickly arrive on site. In part, we also work in neighbouring countries. Exactly like at Polytan, we are constantly developing our technologies or even inventing new devices. This too differentiates us from the competition.

ON TOP: What does the future have in store for PSG?

Felix Friedel: Since our founding, we have grown steadily and have often exceeded our goals. The operators of sports facilities increasingly understand that effective maintenance can extend the lifespan of a facility for years, in some cases. We are there to assist and advise them. We are also taking on new challenges. Our offering is becoming increasingly sustainable. I would like for PSG to get even better on all counts, and for our employees to continue to enjoy what they are doing.

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