Paul Ruggles: The seating requirements for Dublin Terminal 2 were typical for an airport: functionality, robustness, ease of cleaning, aesthetics, comfort, fire-resistance, cost, after-sales support and service, and warranty. These were the criteria we used when comparing the leading airport seating manufacturers offers with the client.
The only really unique requirement for the terminal, at the time, was a desire to have integral signing in the moulded polyurethane for seats designed for people with reduced mobility (PRM). We also looked at bespoke sizes and alternative positioning of tables, and new types of polyester powder-coated (PPC) paint that were more robust.
[I was] impressed but, at the same time, I expected a willingness and ability to customise, as specifying a large volume of seats.
OMK has a creative, design-led approach with a desire to give the architect and their clients exactly what they want, if it is sensible and feasible. The company is small and specialised, so you conduct business and design discussions with designers who are empowered to make the financial decisions.
Interestingly, my first dealing with OMK, nearly 34 years ago, was to request the design of custom-made bins to match OMK transit seats that I wanted for the Brighton Station concourse. A sketch was duly provided on the spot and a prototype was ready for me to inspect a week later. I was impressed then, and I remain impressed today.
The manufacturing process was clearly explained to me by Matt Osborne, managing director at the company, together with the parameters of what was achievable. Drawings were provided from my sketches, options discussed and prototypes made. This was all done very quickly and at no cost to my client - it was undertaken with a genuine willingness to please. OMK came to Ireland to present to the client on several occasions.
They were helpful, they cared and they took the pressure off me. Issues were handled effectively. They were never complacent or arrogant, assuming that they were going to be selected. When we narrowed the choice of seating suppliers to two, it was OMK's enthusiasm, backed by a competitive commercial offering, that eventually won them the order.
We followed a rigorous selection and sign-off process for everything specified for Dublin Terminal 2, as the project was in the spotlight and had to be completely auditable. Apart from meeting our needs in terms of the product, OMK was readily forthcoming with all the paperwork required, which was helpful.
The company provided alternative seating layouts for us to consider with our client, and was able to manufacture and install in accordance with a demanding programme.
I like the design of their products; they are honest, elegant and useful. Prices are competitive, the service is good and I trust them. My long-term relationship has provided the opportunity for engagement in the process of continual improvement of products and services to suit the clients that I deal with.
OMK understands the market that I work in, the product requirements and the business processes. I never feel as if the team are trying to sell me anything. Between projects, they keep in contact, seeking my opinion as an architect working in the transportation sector, and keeping me abreast of product developments in response to regulatory changes, improved manufacturing techniques or airport requirements.