Hero Flooring + Nike Grind: A Match Made in Recycled Rubber Heaven

03.18.24 | By
Hero Flooring + Nike Grind: A Match Made in Recycled Rubber Heaven

Founder of Hero Flooring and former rower and world championship gold medalist, Reade Palmer, is someone who looks for what’s missing before following up with an innovative solution. Palmer established the brand of high-performance flooring materials in 2014 after noticing a blind spot within the commercial floor covering industry: the client experience. With more than two decades of background, he thought, “This can’t be it. There’s room for a fresh approach in an industry that has been dominated by the past.” Now, Hero Flooring aims to deliver the ultimate client experience to an industry that’s often catered to as one-size-fits-all. And one of their biggest wins to date is becoming an official Nike Grind partner.

A Nike shoe suspended over a square of recycled rubber.

Sole Cycle, Flyknit

Since 2020, Hero Flooring’s catalog has built up a collection of five products – with a sixth in development – made using the coveted Nike Grind material. Consisting of recycled rubber from athletic shoes, they produce Hero Flooring + Nike Grind, high-performance rubber flooring that’s available in roll, tile, and interlocking tile formats that resemble wildly artistic terrazzo.

A Nike shoe suspended over a square of recycled rubber.

A collection of books and recycled rubber flooring samples on a table.

If you’re unaware, getting on the Nike Grind train isn’t easy; everyone wants a ticket, and the process is involved. “I reached out to Nike in the earliest part of 2020 and borderline begged for a chance to share my vision of what we could do as an official Nike Grind Partner,” Palmer divulges. “My vision was that we would create a true product portfolio of Hero Rubber + Nike Grind – not a single SKU or a quick one-off product – but a true program that delivered a true market differentiator.” Eventually, product development got the brand across the finish line. Currently, you can choose from five unique collections: Original, Razzo, 3Force, Sole Cycle, and Dunk, that deliver ergonomic, acoustic, safety, and easy-to-care-for qualities.

pile of recycled rubber

Nike Grind rubber outsole

pile of recycled rubber

Nike Grind rubber outsole

The Nike Grind program has been around for over 30 years, with a team that’s as supportive and passionate about the products as the partners they work with. The program aims to change the way we think about waste while working to create a Zero Waste Future. Hero Flooring does so by delivering a clean product that uses two key materials: virgin rubber EPDM and Nike Grind. By eliminating crumb rubber, aka recycled tires, they’ve been able to eliminate the unpleasant odor that accompanies old tires, and further differentiate the flooring brand.

pile of recycled rubber

Nike Grind rubber

pile of recycled rubber

Nike Grind rubber

Hero Flooring currently works with three variations of Nike Grind and outer sole shreds that are delivered on trucks carrying approximately 30,000 pounds. (So many athletic shoes!) The different formats create varying visuals in the finished tiles, with each using a varying level of the material – from 20% up to 65%.

“I personally work on the product development of each collection in the program, along with a team of forward-thinking industry veterans who all share their ideas,” Palmer shares. “With each collection that we develop, there is a basis for that collection, meaning it could be focused on scale, recycled content volumes, a visual to address a specific market gap, unique visuals, color, and beyond.”

climbing wall covered in recycled black, blue, and grey recycled rubber flooring

Original, Broncos + Home Game

A room with cream colored recycled rubber flooring and a few colorful pillows.

Original, MVP

Hero Rubber + Nike Grind is most often specified for fitness and athletic spaces. “Fitness in general is critical in so many aspects of life, and Hero Flooring delivers an incredibly clean, high-performance product for this space,” Palmer adds. New uses for the product seemingly pop up every month, like it being used for an outdoor summer concert series – even though outdoor use isn’t technically recommended.

gym space with workout equipment

Original, Home Game + MVP

office gathering space

Original, Space Jam, Home Game + MVP

Aside from their partnership with Nike Grind, Hero Flooring also delivers a Broadloom Carpet & Carpet Tile program focused on solution-dyed products for high-performance applications. But the brand’s commitment to quality, environmental stewardship, social sustainability, and the ultimate client experience goes beyond flooring. Hero Carpet makes the time to give back to the community in the form of Foster Love. After becoming a father in January 2018, Palmer decided on the brand’s charitable cause: making sure children in the foster care system have more than a garbage bag to use when moving between homes.

red, black, and grey deckled rubber flooring

Original, Space Jam, Home Game + Teamwork

“When a child in foster care moves from home to home, it’s common practice that they carry what belongings they have in a trash bag. Foster Love is an organization that aims to lift these kids up with the basics, one of which is the sweet cases – duffle bags filled with teddy bears, toiletries, coloring books, blankets, and beyond – that Hero Flooring provides,” Palmer, the adoptive father of a young son, shares.

floor covered in light grey and blue deckled tiles

Sole Cycle, Cortez + Presto

Palmer himself knows a few things about support and community, as Hero Flooring is the only LGBTBE brand certified by the NGLCC within the manufacturing and supply side of the commercial flooring industry. “I was often surrounded by parts of our industry where I would not be received well if I came out – remember this dates back over 20 years ago,” Palmer shares. “But the silver lining is that I eventually met some incredible designers who became my friends. I saw them happy, living their lives in an authentic way – they were who they were – and they eventually gave me the courage to say, ‘Hey, this is who I am.'”

Palmer has come to the conclusion that the most important part of what it means for Hero Flooring to be the only LGBTBE on the manufacturing/supply side of the industry really isn’t the main story. Rather, he says, “It’s ‘look at how far our industry has come… and look at how far we can still run.”

gym floor covered in recycled rubber flooring with a hand weight

Dunk, Smoke

Hero Flooring is only getting started, and we can’t wait to see where the journey takes them. To learn more, visit

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.