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Posted in Minoli
20th June 2022
Minoli have worked with Building Adhesives Limited, or BAL as they are better known, since the company was formed in the early 1960’s, a few years after Minoli was incorporated and began working with tiles.
Peter Minoli, founder of Minoli as it is today, and the founder of BAL Mr Norman Nicholson, had a long and close business relationship through the 70’s and 80’s with many annual business agreements being signed off over a lunch at The Bear in Woodstock, which was in that time one of the foremost locations for a good business luncheon.
And so to begin the series where we will be looking at the manufacturers and suppliers who help make Minoli successful in delivering first class products and services to our clients – today we feature BAL.
BAL Adhesives – market-leading innovation for six decades
In the early 1960s, tiles were still predominantly being fixed with sand & cement – however changes in tiles and backgrounds saw the need for new fixing technology.
With a lack of specialist tile fixing products and support, the development of tile use in the UK faced challenges. To address this new opportunity, in 1962 the members of the British Ceramic Tile Council (BCTC) – including then major tile manufacturers such as Richards, Pilkingtons, Carters and Woliscrofts – formed a new company to specifically manufacture specialist adhesive products and provide service and support for tiling in the UK: Building Adhesives Ltd, with its range of new tiling products branded as BAL.
At the time, BAL were the only products recommended by the BCTC and they began to roll out their new and innovative products to market-leading distributors including Minoli from 1963.
There were no effective British Standards in the early 1960s for tile fixing. With this in mind, BAL set up a comprehensive Technical Advisory Service to provide advice to fixers and distributors on tiling best practice – a service that continues to provide support to this very day.
BAL also launched the first seminars to discuss the introduction of new standards and relevant BAL products through 1969/70, a forum that has since carried on through the decades.
BAL naturally became a leading contributor to the development of British and European Standards, directly and indirectly through tile associations such as The Tile Association (TTA) – of which it is a full founding member.
As a standard-bearer for the tiling industry, BAL also became the first manufacturer to use independent testing through the BCRA, with regular partnerships to ensure product developments passed laboratory and physical testing. BAL’s mission is and always will be to ensure that all products must be specially developed and fully tested with today’s range of tiles and new backgrounds. BAL also developed the first epoxy grout which broadened the market possibilities for tiling to be used in hospitals, hygienic and chemical environments.
During the early years – a long time before today’s digital world – new products were launched by the company’s first MD Norman Nicholson and Technical Director Frank Vaughan at what are now considered to be legendary “product symposiums” held at esteemed venues such as the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds. Here the great and good of the tiling world gathered to see new innovations such as the UK’s first rubber-crumb based products, controllable-setting adhesives and anti-bacterial grouts. Each event was hosted by a film or television celebrity from the time. (JM – I have seen pictures from these events and heard all of the stories, all very 1970’s – perhaps a little like the “Oil Barons Ball” from Dallas).
As a market-leading manufacturer, BAL has always worked closely with architects and specifiers. In fact, in conjunction with BCTC and BCRA, it was the first manufacturer to deliver seminars to RIBA and the tiling industry in the late 60s. BAL continues to work with the architectural community through its range of RIBA-approved CPDs and is a member of the RIBA CPD Providers Network. Products and systems are also available on multiple design platforms such as NBS Source.
Training has always been important to BAL particularly since it became the first adhesive manufacturer to provide training on standards and fixing techniques (rather than just its own product reviews).
In 1992 it opened a training centre with a full-time training manager (the first in the industry), before investing in a state-of-the-art Innovation and Technology Centre in 2015, complete with a multi-purpose auditorium, training bays and meeting rooms.
BAL continues to run comprehensive training sessions for fixers, contractors, specifiers and distributors either at its ITC, on-site or at branch level. BAL also offers online training through a number of different platforms including Microsoft Teams and Facebook Live. This helped the company stay connected with its partners during the COVID lockdowns and they have continued with great success since.
Innovation after innovation has followed since BAL launched in the 1960s, with BAL leading the tiling industry with first-to-market products such as the first floating uncoupling mat (Flexbone 2Easy), first thin lightweight mat (BAL Rapid Mat) and the first adhesives with Fibre Strand Technology. Forward-looking, BAL have a comprehensive new product development programme, constantly looking at new products and systems to improve the industry.
Now, as part of the ARDEX Group – a global leader in high-performance building products and construction supplies – BAL can tap into a large worldwide resource of people, products, materials and R&D, ensuring it is consistently ahead of the ever-changing industry requirements.
BAL works closely with partners such as Minoli to deliver great service and support for fixers, contractors and specifiers – helping to ensure projects are delivered on time and on budget.
David Hackett, General Manager at BAL said: “Striving for continuous innovation is central to BAL’s success and Minoli is one of the longest standing (if not the longest) BAL distribution partners, bringing this innovation to the market”.