Co-Founder Jason Bahrke (left), intern Dylan Plohasz-Pouliot (center), and intern John Chrisfield (right).
About Life Floor:
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And when life gives you a closed-pore material that’s impermeable to water, is slip resistant and has high impact absorption… well, you build a business around it.
Seven years ago, Jonathan Keller, Spencer Howell, Jason Bahrke, and Sean Rubin founded Life Floor in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Life Floor manufactures a foam rubber-tile that increases safety and improves user experience aquatic environments. With up to 7,000 installations worldwide, Life Floor is now the fourth “largest” provider of this type of foam flooring in the U.S. With less than 50 employees, however, Life Floor is still a small business. But business is growing.
“We’re in the process of a large expansion,” Bahrke said, which included expanding their team.
“An intern was a great way to get some benefit without the investment of a full-time, permanent employee,” he explained. “And, to be honest, if it wasn’t for SciTech, I wouldn’t have gotten the interns I had. For us, as a company, it’s made a huge difference, just being able to have internship opportunities for people while being able to compensate them at a rate they deserve.”
Meet the Interns:
Dylan Plohasz-Pouliot is a chemical engineering major at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. During his internship, he helped set up Life Floor’s new performance lab for in-house product testing. John Chrisfield, a mechanical engineering major at the U’s Twin Cities’ campus, worked on quality assurance for their new tile texture.
“We’ve had two trips now out to South Dakota to visit our manufacturing plant,” Chrisfield recalled. “So going out there and actually getting to tear into some of the machines, work on them and make improvements, all while tying quality assurance data to it back at the office, has been a pretty memorable experience.”
For Plohasz-Pouliot, the biggest takeaway was the industry exposure he received. “I really enjoy working for a small company,” he said. “It makes you care about your work a lot more, it makes you more able to see the end result of what you’re doing, and it makes you care about the people around you, which I think makes you a way more valuable team member.”