Floor removal and surface preparation machine manufacturer National Flooring Equipment (nationalequipment.com) recently announced Derek Olson as president of the company—and the first president outside of the Anderson family. Lloyd Anderson founded the company in 1968, and was succeeded by his son Marty Anderson. Olson, who succeeds Marty Anderson, is only the third president of National.

Additionally, the company has opened a new training center in Broomfield, Colo., where it anticipates it will hold more than 30 training programs at the location this year. We sat down with Olson to talk about his new role, the training center and his vision for National’s future.

First of all, congratulations on the new job. What is your vision for the company? What’s next for National?

Olson: A private investment group purchased National in 2007, and we’re looking at a long-term strategic plan three years and five years out. This is a very exciting time—we have lots of opportunities in front of us. The company culture is very much a family culture. We focus on each other and our business partners and customers.

The most important thing for me is hiring the smartest and hardest working people out there and getting out of their way. My goal is to focus on the long-term strategic roadmap. All our teams—from sales to operations—are led by exceptional industry professionals.

Can you share any of your long-term strategy?

Olson: What I will say is long-term we are looking at entering some new markets. International growth is very important to us right now. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of our product lines. It’s my goal to continue to be the surface preparation provider. We have the industry’s best service.

Tell me a little more about your new training center. I imagine that’s another way for you to expand your customer service?

Olson: Absolutely. We have a 10,000 sq. ft. facility in Broomfield, Colo. It’s near Denver. We’re running some international sales out of the office, and we have a warehouse in there that we’ve converted to a big training facility.

We are the only American surface preparation machine manufacturer left that has a whole product line. The opportunity with the training facility is to provide our distribution partners and end-users a way to touch the equipment. We put down tile and hardwood floors and guys can rip them up. They can shot blast concrete, scarify, grind and polish. It’s a really cool opportunity to destroy and prepare floors.

Because of our sales model, we sell only through distribution. Our key partnerships may have hundreds if not thousands of customers that they service. Our training center is a unique way to train and educate the market. With each of our new innovations comes new opportunities, but it also requires training to make sure the end-user understands.

How did the idea for opening the training center come about?

Olson: It’s the result of collaboration among our leadership team, asking the question: “What is the best way to support our partners?” We looked for more than a year to find this location. We do quarterly training sessions about grinding, polishing, scraping and scarifying. We also do private sessions. A customer can bring in their entire team to train. They might even call and say, “I’ve got a job with 10,000 sq. ft. of tile.” We can demo the unit in their location or bring them here and let them use the machine. It’s a collaborative effort, with lots of guys participating.