Posted on

2010 Floor Covering Inspectors Symposium: Participants get updated on standards, hands-on training

LAS VEGAS—Overall flooring sales might be sluggish, but it doesn’t mean there is nothing going on within the industry. In fact, there is so much happening from a technical point of view that approximately 100 people gathered at the Las Vegas Hilton the day prior to Surfaces’ exhibit floor opening for a full day of education and training as part of the New Floor Covering Inspectors Symposium.

This year’s event marked a new chapter in the yearly conference geared toward educating and training the industry’s inspectors. The annual meeting, known for years as Inspections, was found- ed and run by Carl Williams of the Academy of Textiles & Flooring (ATF), who passed away last year (FCNews, July 6/13).

As a way to keep Williams’ memory alive, as well as his goal of raising the industry’s professionalism by having properly trained and educated inspectors, ATF teamed with Textile Consultants to not only keep the popular event going, but expand it to ensure it meets the needs of today’s flooring troubleshooters.

Larry Cooper, founder of Textile Consultants, said with all that is currently happening in the industry—national standards being developed for such things as carpet installation, a national inspectors reference guide in the process of being updated, and so on—they felt it was important to carry on Williams’ legacy and the fact that twice as many people showed up for the event was proof they were correct. “People are really excited by everything going on and are wanting to know more about the process, where things stand and how they will affect them and their businesses.”

The day-long meeting featured industry experts, including FCNews’ “Claims File” columnist Lew Migliore, who updated the audience on “What’s New in the Carpet Industry,” and Jim Walker, CEO of the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), who gave a hands-on presentation, “Carpet Installation for Carpet Inspectors.”

Walker told the audience that installation and inspection are tied together in that “you cannot inspect a seam unless you have put one together. You need to be able to take it apart, not just look at it.”

Seams, he added, “are not hard to make. The problem is the industry has not taken the time to teach it properly.” Telling the audience, “what you write down is gospel,” Walker said, “It’s important you know and understand what happened before just blaming the installer.” This is going to be more important than ever because “I guarantee that installation will be in manufacturers’ warranties in the future.”

In addition, the conference featured sessions on simplifying the inspection process, working with the insurance industry, how to identify carpet backings and overall construction, along with updates on what is happening with the various industry standards and guides.

Cooper said with the national standards and documents being worked on, the industry is “starting to advance and be more professional.” Part of that has to do with different segments working together to form a general agreement on how certain things, such as installation, should be done.

Pointing to the committee working on the carpet installation standard as a prime example, he noted, “I have never worked with a more motivated group. All aspects of the industry have come together to have a voice, and even though they all have dif- ferent agendas, things are moving really well.”

Concerning the inspector’s reference guide, Cooper added the number of people who applied for the commit- tee charged with updating the document “was tremendous.” In fact, even with two dozen representatives selected for it, “We had to turn people away.”

Halfway through the conference, a memorial tribute to Williams took place led by Mike West, Williams’ long-time business and training partner. “There is no one label that can define Carl. He was a mentor to many and loved coming to the rescue of someone in need. I can’t think of anyone more qualified than him to teach as many courses as he did.”

To help keep Williams’ spirit of teaching alive, Jack Freedman and Graham Bedwell of the Carpet & Fabricare Institute presented the inaugural Carl Wil- liams Mentorship Award to his wife, Bobbie, for her persistence and hard work to ensure the Inspector’s Symposium continued even after her husband’s passing.

While next year’s conference is not yet finalized, Cooper said the plan is to expand it. “We want to make it two-and-a-half days instead of just one and have part of the format dedicated to hard surfaces.”

He added a number of people have been asking for this type of component to the program because they have expanded their inspection services into hard surface. Also, like the carpet sector, there is a great deal of new things happening in the various hard surfaces “and it’s important for inspectors to stay current.”

For more information on the Floor Covering Inspectors Symposium, call 303.289.1034.

-Matthew Spieler