Our Experience

Our Experience

Tim Oldfield – President and Owner of SmartRink

I have always believed in quality, both in product and in the client experience. As a hockey Dad I searched for a product that would help my two children develop strong skating and skills training habits. In 2006 after spending almost 20 years in the corporate sector, I began importing and distributing a high quality product out of the UK. I saw with my own eyes how my kids used and enjoyed this product almost every day – at home. This personal experience with my own kids opened up a whole new world of skating opportunities – in the home, in training centres, in communities, and in the event world. Since then we have sold tens of thousands of skating panels throughout the world.

When you have a great product and you treat clients well the word gets out. My company has been fortunate enough to participate in some amazing events with some notable organizations such as:

  • The NHL, Face-Off 2010, 2011
  • The New York Rangers, on Broadway and at Madison Square Garden
  • HGTV show Decked Out – The Hockey Rink Deck
  • CBC – The 32nd Annual Genie Awards featuring Jamie Sale, David Pelletier and Joannie Rochette
  • The Las Vegas Venetian Hotel – Winter in Venice

From the beginning, I have learned this business from someone who has already worked in the industry for 30 years. His name is John Thorpe and he calls Southport, UK his home. He has owned manufacturing plants, managed large multi-national plastics operations, invented patented skating panel products, and has sold, marketed and installed synthetic skating surfaces virtually around the world – in all types of climates. Indeed, it is John Thorpe who pioneered this industry, and then continually modernized it with his product innovations.

Between John Thorpe’s experience and mine we have decided to form a new global company called SmartRink. We will not waver from our founding principles which are to continually provide quality product and quality client care. We will always strive to be the company that provides the most accurate product information within an industry that often struggles to differentiate one product from another. It is our goal to provide skaters around the world with high quality, safe and competitive products.

Enjoy skating on SmartRink products!
Thank you,

Tim Oldfield
Owner, SmartRink
Dartmouth, Canada


John Thorpe

Having been a keen skater in my youth, I fell in love with the idea of a synthetic skating panel – many years later. I recognised its potential to bring ice skating enjoyment to large and small communities throughout the world.
It began 30 years ago, March 1982 in Dubai (UAE). I was working there as a consultant in the building and civil engineering industries. I met the directors of a British firm, “HI-DEN ICE” at the British Ambassador’s reception and fell in love with their product, which they had developed in 1975! I represented HI-DEN ICE in the Middle East from March 1982 until August 1987, when I returned to the United Kingdom. I then bought the company!

I worked with our Ministry of Defence and their contractors to develop nuclear radiation shielding. Working with specialist machinists, I helped develop special materials to be used in hip replacement surgery. Many more industries were also served, giving me incredible experience of the versatility of engineering plastics! Of course my favourite application was Synthetic ice!

I have actively involved myself in all aspects of invention, development, testing, manufacture, sales, marketing, assembly, installation and operation. I hold patents and trademarks for both material and design and own extensive intellectual property rights. I have had direct personal involvement with hundreds of actual installations.

Over many years, I worked with some of the best sheet producers in the world, I continually developed superior panels designed and engineered for the purpose of skating. Firstly, by a merger with Solidur Deutschland (now Quadrant) and latterly with Ottensteiner Kunststoff (OKULEN). Also, with manufacturing machinery, “in house” in my own factory, in the United Kingdom.

OKULEN is a great company to work with and it has a team of dedicated, involved professionals known personally to me over virtually the whole time I have been committed to synthetic ice. Today we have a joint venture with OKULEN for manufacture, having refined the skating material to a level which is worthy of world acclaim! Trademark : ICE-Y-BLUE 700™. The Joint venture partnership for manufacture with one of the foremost German pressed sheet producers with ultra-modern facilities including state of the art fabrication machinery and quality control, has been in a word “remarkable”.

Some of my greatest recent achievements have come through building additional relationships with distributors. For example in North America I have had great success developing the synthetic “backyard” rink market. We supplied the only permanent full size NHL rink in Canada with hockey line markings. We have garnered Endorsement by the NHL. We have sold and installed world class ice hockey training facilities. We were selected supplier for the first synthetic ice rink on the strip in Las Vegas – the Venetian Resort Winter in Venice attraction.

The reality is that over the past 30 years there have been many memorable achievements. Number one has to be the supply and fit, for an event organising company, in Reykjavik, Iceland of a complete rink installation. The synthetic ice rink at the Millennium Dome in London became a highly popular visitor attraction. Working with the main architects to create the spectacular Marina Bay Sands Resort skating rink in Singapore. Providing many hundreds of rinks giving enjoyment and healthy exercise to thousands of people, from all walks of life, in many parts of the world.

Through all this success it made sense to combine forces to better represent a true global brand. This exciting new company will be known as SmartRink. The name might be new but the depth of product experience is unparalleled.

As global markets become more accessible I have also seen many new competitors appear. New companies introducing skating panels which they claim to be the best, the most efficient, the cheapest etc. Most have also purported to manufacture their own products. Superlative adjectives have been used, such as “extreme”, “leading edge”, “brilliant ice-like response” and even more mundane words like “wonder”, “art” and “green”.

Fortunately, for the industry, some of them have simply gone away. Unfortunately a few still remain – to confuse genuine customers with unsubstantiated claims and even ignorance of the products on offer. The honest investor, creating a new leisure business opportunity, a home rink, or event expect an enjoyable skating experience, and that is what they should receive!

It will always be our primary mission to provide accurate reliable information to assist buyers around the world. We will strive to help our potential customers understand the various processes which go into supplying ice skating panels.

We will lead the way in setting ethical industry standards, and ensure we provide long term service, not simply short term gain.

We are prepared to give advice, free of charge and without obligation, on all aspects of floor design panels and barrier (dasher board) systems. For example we are prepared to discuss H Tongue vs. Dovetail connecting systems, fixed vs. free standing dasher boards, surface applied glide enhancement vs. panel injected – all topics where a great deal of mis-information exists – we will be delighted to dispel it!

I will be delighted to be contacted by anybody; potential distributor, facility investor, or even a competent competitor interested in a discussion about the facts and accurate history of synthetic ice. Thirty years of valuable experience cannot be bought. However, the benefit of it can be freely given!

Finally I would be pleased to offer offer any potential customer or distributor the opportunity to visit our factory in Germany to “see for themselves”.

Please make contact:John Thorpe
Southport
EnglandTel : +44 1704 545347
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