This is Part 1 of a six-part interview series with FreeAxez CEO Earl Geertgens on the company’s history, Gridd, building design and cable management, the evolution of raised floors and the future of flooring.
For over 20 years, FreeAxez has been widely recognized as the premium innovator, developer, and manufacturer of cabling distribution systems. With a proven system of products, the company continuously expands and refines its product range to meet the ever-changing needs of today’s and tomorrow’s integrated high-performance buildings. We have a commitment to stay ahead of our industry’s evolving needs. This is a commitment that FreeAxez clients can depend on.
FreeAxez’s Gridd adaptive cable management concept has become the preferred choice among architects and end-users. The product is so revolutionary that the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) recognized that Gridd needed a separate classification and it officially assigned Gridd a new MasterFormat number and title:
09 69 33 Low Profile Fixed Height Access Flooring.
FreeAxez is located in Delran, N.J. Earl Geertgens, III, is the company’s president and CEO since its inception in 1999.
Following is a transcript of a recent interview with Earl.
Interviewer: When did you launch FreeAxez? Talk about the timeline and how FreeAxez has developed and grown since you started the company.
Earl Geertgens: We started in 1999, so we’re in our 21st year. Our first two clients were Johnson & Johnson and MIT. And even though in the very beginning, our system wasn’t exactly mainstream—we didn’t have any distribution—the fact was that Johnson & Johnson and MIT both saw value in our cable management system. Both of those organizations ordered product from us three times in our first year. So, we knew we were onto something.
The architect who found us in both instances would put us into the project. As it was installed, they saw we were problem solvers and could help them in other applications in their buildings.
Interviewer: What is adaptive cabling distribution (ACD)?
Earl Geertgens: After about the first 10 years,we were constantly being referred to as raised floor, raised floor, raised floor. And that ended up being a real obstacle to people understanding what we were, because the raised floor was invented roughly 60 years ago, right around when computers were invented.
When the raised floor was invented, it was originally about four to six feet tall, designed to house mainframe computers. Those computers generated so much heat that they needed to create a sealed airspace in order to push cold air through, just to cool down the equipment—not to cool down the people in the building.
FreeAxez and Gridd are obviously a paradigm of raised access flooring, But we shouldn’t simply use the term “raised floor.” Otherwise, everybody would be comparing us to a post and panel floor; they might call us for cooling systems and components inherently required by post and panel flooring. We found out that, at the end of all our projects for large clients, we needed to not only position ourselves as a saver of construction time and cost, but a guiding light after the fact—because it’s really a technology product for cable distribution, rather than cooling.
ACD® is something we’ve trademarked so that we could get the ball rolling on our clients’ collective understanding what Adaptive Cabling Distribution is. We use ACD to explain to property managers our key role in helping them manage their cables to then make moves, adds and changes to their configurations in order to satisfy their organization’s needs.
Interviewer: How is Gridd different from traditional raised access flooring?
Earl Geertgens: The traditional access floor was designed with a completely different purpose. When raised access floors were invented, the design intent of the engineers—and the problem they were trying to solve—was cooling down those mainframe computers, offsetting the heat for that equipment. That’s why it was designed as a heavy panel in a raised floor with posts, and to create a sealed air space.
Gridd and the FreeAxez system are all about cable management, it’s all about ergonomics, portability and ease of use. The channel plate that the tech needs to lift—instead of weighing 42 pounds in a post and panel raised access floor system—only weighs 1.5 pounds in Gridd’s flooring system.
The Gridd adaptive cable management system was designed to be the solution to a number of needs in today’s modern workplace environments. In Part 2 of this interview Earl Geertgens will answer some questions as to how Gridd can provide those solutions.