January 6/13, 2014; Volume 27/Number 18
By Gerry Swift
Maybe I’ve been in a rut. Maybe I need some new ideas, a fresh approach or just some enthusiasm for flooring after a tough 2013. There is no better way to ignite those competitive fires than investing the time and money for a concentrated agenda of seminars, meetings, non-stop new ideas and networking. Yes, you have to be away from the familiar grind for a few days, but it’s worth it.
All the financial “experts” are predicting 2014 will be a tremendous year for commercial construction and retailers. That’s great news considering the past five years have been the hardest of my 23 years in the floor covering business. What have we done to prepare for this projected boom? Have we taken advantage of the downtime for training, education and product knowledge?
It’s never too late. There are many groups and events throughout the floor covering industry that address installer training, sales training, installation management training, and executive training. In addition, there are many venues available to help us keep up with the latest product offerings. Our industry publications do a very good job with that, as well.
With Surfaces coming later this month, it’s an opportunity to experience great networking and training in a short period of time under one very large roof. This World Floor Covering Association (WFCA)- sponsored trade exhibition is our industry’s largest event with an annual attendance of around 40,000. In addition to all the leading manufacturers showing off their new floor covering products, tools, software and services, there are great educational sessions for business owners, managers and installation professionals, covering both residential and commercial markets.
What if you can’t get to Las Vegas in late January? What do we do after Surfaces to continue our education and career advancement in the floor covering industry? Are there industry groups and events that focus on my particular role or position in the floor covering business? The answer is a definitive “yes.” There are also a number of commercial flooring groups such as StarNet, Fuse and Spectra that are comprised of North America’s top commercial flooring contractors and preferred vendor partners; consider each of these organizations and see what value they have to offer, then get involved.
Times have changed, and so have our industry’s materials, tools, software and installation standards and methods. And they continue to evolve. If you think you can compete in today’s market doing things you’ve always done, you may have a difficult time succeeding as we come into a more robust economy.
Fortunately, our industry now has a broad group of associations and organizations, each targeting specific job functions and roles within a floor covering contractor’s business. Certified Floorcovering Installers (CFI) and the Installation Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) focus on training, certification and continuing education for our industry’s front line workers—our installers. The Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA) focuses on training and certification of our industry’s installation managers, an important role in any floor covering contractor’s business.
Each of the associations, organizations and groups mentioned above offer our industry unique benefits that, in my opinion, are essential to a successful business moving forward. But we have to participate and get involved. We have to take the time to attend the respective group’s conventions and meetings. That’s where the value of each of these organization’s lies.