By Ken Ryan
Tucson, Ariz.—The FCICA annual convention welcomed a record number of attendees, including 55 first-timers, in the clearest indication yet that this association is growing in both size and influence.
This marks the second year in a row of record attendance for FCICA, which has seen membership grow over 35%, with most of the newcomers flooring contractors. “I wish I could put a finger on why we have taken it to another level as a group,” said Mike Newberry, outgoing FCICA chairman. “I think if you build something with meaning behind it—where you can take something home that is so valuable—then they will come. Fifty-five first timers at this convention tells me someone is going back to their place of business and saying, ‘I have to send my people there.’ We want the other groups to be part of this. We are supportive of their efforts as well.”
First-time attendees included new member Geoff Gordon, executive director of Fuse Alliance. “Geoff is here to validate what we offer so he can tell his contractor members there are things like the CIM program that they might not have that is available to them,” Newberry said.
FCICA membership among its core flooring contractors as well as vendors has been on the rise in recent years, with the association’s signature CIM (Certified Installation Managers) Program helping fuel the growth. CIM provides training tools and assessment for qualified professionals within the commercial arena to enhance their core skill set, experience and knowledge base, which are necessary to successfully manage commercial flooring projects.
Since the CIM program was launched in 2015, 141 installation managers have successfully completed the program, including 44 since the group’s mid-year 2018 meeting in Pennsylvania. There are currently 78 in the program today. By comparison, at this time last year there were 65 total certifications achieved, up from 28 two years ago.
“The value of the program is resonating with companies,” Newberry noted. “Owners are seeing a lot of value in it. My company [Interior Edge Commercial Interior Services, Eagan, Minn.] has had six people go through the program. There has been a lot of organic growth with this program.”
Sonny Callaham, technical director, Divergent Adhesives, Gray Court, S.C., and an FCICA member since 2007, said the CIM program has been a catalyst in helping the association grow. “The CIM program gave us an identity; we have a clear purpose,” he said. “It has definitely been a recruiting tool as well, not just for FCICA but for our Successors program.”
FCICA’s Successors group of under 40-year-old leaders was started four years ago and now has more than 30 members who are involved in decision making at the highest level. “They are already a huge contributor in everything we do,” Callaham noted. “I don’t know of another group that has a Successor group like we do.”
During the convention, FCICA members addressed many issues impacting flooring contractors, chief among them the labor shortage that is affecting all areas of the construction trade. As the industry works to find solutions, contractors were reminded that they need to walk a fine line in how they handle their subcontractor installers lest the IRS or other government entities label them employees and levy steep fines. “We really had some great discussions,” said Mike Roberts, managing partner with Bonitz, a large flooring contractor with 17 locations in the Southeast. “I think this is the best meeting we have ever had. The economy has something to do with it, and we have had some good years in a row now where you can see the trajectory of this group is on the rise.”
Newberry, presiding over his final FCICA annual convention as chairman (Pat Kelly, membership chair, will now be chairman), said the FCICA’s mission statement is clearer than ever, which is to be the resource for flooring contractors and deliver the skills and knowledge through education and training to enhance the professionalism of the group. “We want to upgrade our game for what we do as contractors,” Newberry told FCNews.
New and notable
For the first time, FCICA members are eligible to purchase health coverage at a discounted rate from the Small Association Leadership Alliance (SALA). According to Pat Kelly, companies like his would save 60% from this health plan vs. his current plan. “I encourage everyone to look into it.”
Kim Oderkirk, executive director of the FCICA, celebrated her 20th year with the association at convention, where she was recognized for her tireless work, often behind the scenes. “She adapts to all of these different personalities and keeps the associates on track—she’s incredible,” Newberry said. “Nothing else I can say other than how appreciative I am of her.”
Among the new vendors was former Beaulieu Group president Steve Hillis, whose company, Empower Your Team, provides training, consulting and coaching for flooring dealers (RSAs, sales managers and owners) as well as manufacturers. Hillis’ team includes nine industry veterans with a range of experiences and skill sets. “The FCICA is all about education and training, so this is right up our wheelhouse,” Hillis said.