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CFI opens registration for 25th annual convention

Forney, Texas—This year marks the 25th anniversary of the annual CFI Convention. The event, regarded as one of the top “must-see” and “go-to” events in the industry, will run Aug. 15-17 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Since its inception in 1993, the CFI Convention has been recognized as one of the industry’s most heavily trafficked shows. This year’s anniversary event is expected to attract professionals from across the globe in every sector of the flooring industry including installers, retailers, manufacturers and consumers.

What’s more, CFI has secured some of the most innovative break-out sessions with flooring experts from across the country who will discuss everything from the business surrounding installation to how to successfully work with and retain installers.

Thousands of companies over the past 25 years have recognized the CFI Convention as the perfect platform to launch new products, services and make new business connections. If interested in hosting a seminar or being a part of the Associate Showcase contact CFI at 816.231.4646.

If you are a member of CFI but not yet a member of the WFCA, take advantage of the opportunity to only pay $295 to register for CFI Convention. Contact CFI at 816.231.4646 for more information on this offer.

CFI has secured a room block with discounted rates that are locked in for a limited time at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. For more information, visit cficonvention.org.

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CFI expands footprint in Canada

Forney, Texas—The International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI) continues to expand its presence in Canada. A new free-standing facility in Toronto, Ontario, will open in April and be overseen by James Lee Senter, president, Canadian Flooring, Cleaning & Restoration (CFCRA), and Sharon Fenton, executive director, CFCRA.

Fenton and Senter will oversee membership and trainings for the entire eastern region of Canada out of the new facility. The grand opening will include an introduction to four new introductory CFI installation courses including: Moisture and Substrate Floor Preparation, Residential-I Installation Training and Certification, Hardwood-I/Laminate-I Installation Training and Certification and Resilient-I Residential Training and Certification.

“The CFCRA is very proud to be a partner with CFI in Canada,” said Senter. “We believe opening a CFI division in eastern Canada will benefit everyone including the flooring manufactures, their retailers, the flooring installers and most of all the consumers.”

In addition to the introductory class line-up, the Canadian outpost will be offering a full slate of CFI classes in all categories of flooring. Coursework will include carpet, ceramic tile, resilient and hardwood/laminate. All classes will be taught by certified CFI instructors who were trained by lead CFI instructors based in the United States.

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Certified Floorcovering Installers Association goes global

CFIForney, Texas—Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) has expanded its presence in China, according to Robert Varden, vice president. Negotiations to establish a CFI satellite operation in Shanghai have been underway since last summer.

“A year’s worth of planning, negotiating and research has culminated in a partnership with the Shanghai Chemical Building Materials Trade Association (SCBMTA),” Varden said. “Our new arrangement in China represents CFI’s first free-standing overseas operation.”

The new facility, which will be overseen by Chun Yuan Qi, director of the SCBMTA, opened its doors on Sept. 8. Qi will report Varden, who will remain based at CFI headquarters stateside. Introductory installation classes at the new facility are slated to commence in the fourth quarter.

The initial lineup of coursework will include carpet, tile and stone. All classes will be taught by certified CFI instructors who were trained by lead instructors from the United States. The Asian outpost will be offering a full slate of CFI classes in all categories of flooring by the first quarter of 2018.

“CFI has experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years,” Varden said. “We are clearly capturing the attention of the industry and making great progress toward resolving its installation crisis.”

Varden said the critical shortage of trained installers extends well beyond the United States and affirmed CFI’s commitment to addressing the problem everywhere that it exists. “We are very excited about the opportunity not only to work with and train new students overseas, but to also continue to expand CFI’s presence throughout the world.”

For more information, visit cfiinstallers.org, email clewis@cfiinstallers.org or call 816-231-4646.

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CFI annual convention sees records attendance

CFIForney, Texas—The 24th annual CFI Convention saw a record-breaking number of attendees from every sector of the flooring industry, according to Robert Varden, vice president, Certified Floorcovering Installers Association. The event, which kicked off Aug. 16 at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, spanned three days and commenced with a welcome reception sponsored by Royal Adhesives, Traxx, Tarkett, Parabond, Tools4Flooring.com and Sponge Cushion.

The event included programs, training and networking opportunities. It also featured the Associate Showcase, an expo highlighting new products and tools from numerous flooring manufacturers. Attendees experienced hands-on interaction with the latest tools and products as well as opportunities to talk with developers behind new technologies that are changing the face of installation.

The convention also included a host of presentations from renowned industry speakers and celebrities including: Scott Humphrey, chief executive officer, WFCA; Darryl Ross, author and motivational speaker; Jeff King, general counsel for the WFCA; CFI trainer Jonathan Varden; Phil Zolan, executive director, fcB2B; and CFI-pro Tom Cartmell—to name a few.

The convention concluded with the CFI Annual Awards Dinner, where several industry leaders were honored. The Chris Davis Award, given each year to an individual who stands out in his or her efforts to promote quality installation and support across the flooring industry, was presented to Rick Herr, installation technology leader from Armstrong World Industries. The Gress Award, the highest form of recognition available to a professional flooring installer, was given to Dwayne Pruitt of Pruitt Flooring in Wichita, Kan.

The final award, Walk of Excellence, was presented to John McHale and Jill Sheets of CFI for their outstanding achievement and all-around excellence. These individuals have helped cultivate CFI’s success through a combined total of 43 years working in the CFI office. Sheets was also presented with a plaque in recognition of her hard work and dedication over the years.

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Armstrong installation expert honored with CFI Chris Davis Award

CFI CHRIS DAVIS AWARD-Rick Herr-AFI-Dave Garden-CFI 1Lancaster, Pa.—At the 24th Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) Convention in Orlando last month, the fifth annual Chris Davis Award was presented to Rick Herr, field installation specialist of Armstrong Flooring, for recognition and dedication to quality flooring installation. Since 1993, CFI has been a trusted source and destination for the latest information on new products, tools, techniques and training for the flooring professional.

To qualify for the award an individual must display attributes of the late D. Christopher Davis, former president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association. The individual must possess the ability and willingness to work with the flooring industry to build a stronger foundation among all partners. The person must also display the characteristics of leadership to achieve goals that are directly related to the advancement of quality flooring installation.

Herr has enjoyed a 48-year relationship with Armstrong Flooring. He spent his first 30 years in new product development for resilient and carpet products. Herr was involved in the development of Designer Solarian II and the Cleansweep coating as well as the seam coating for residential sheet products. He has four U.S. patents on products and coatings. In the past 18 years, he has served as a field installation specialist for the eastern U.S. and Canada.

Herr recently headed the Armstrong Flooring Installation School, which has been training flooring installers for more than 80 years. The school is recognized for the quality of its instruction, knowledgeable teaching staff and continued leadership in the development of new installation methods and procedures.

For more information, contact: training@armstrongflooring.com.

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CFI ‘steps up its game’ as installation issues linger

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.56.49 AMOrlando, Fla.—After two years at a Courtyard Marriott in Grapevine, Texas, the Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) moved its annual convention to the expansive Rosen Shingle Creek, an opulent 255-acre, AAA Four Diamond resort with 500,000 square feet of meeting/ event space.

The change in venue was no accident. “It was time to step up our game,” Robert Varden, vice president of the CFI division of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), told FCNews.

Since merging with the CFI three years ago, the WFCA—led by Scott Humphrey, CEO—has championed the installation trade for its craftsmanship and value to the flooring industry. Moving the 24th annual CFI convention to Rosen Shingle Creek was a nod to the CFI’s importance. “This is a phenomenal team, and the core of this team has been consistent,” Humphrey told members.

As it enters its quarter century, CFI is growing and evolving. It is no longer primarily a training and certification body. Given the current lack of qualified installers, CFI is actively recruiting the next generation. It was noted during the conference that the average age of a flooring installer working today is 56 years old. To canvas for new blood, the association has made recruiting, training and deploying new installers a major priority.

“These programs are really starting to take off,” Varden said, noting that CFI in the past year has graduated three classes in Cincinnati and four in Forney, Texas (about 40 in all). Some of these students had no previous training in installation; however, after five weeks of rigorous course work and mentoring, they were able to graduate and start working. “When these students leave they are really proud,” Varden said. “In fact, their chests are about 3 inches bigger when they complete the course. The industry is in desperate need of recruiting and we needed to add to our program and be able to take someone who had no Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.55.28 AMexperience whatsoever and turn him into an installer. We have shown significant growth both in the trainings we are doing, which can be done anywhere in the country, and the exposure to the brand.”

On the whole, things are looking up for CFI. “I told our staff the time is now to up our game,” Varden said. “Our vendor participation rate is growing, and attendance at the show is up. We’re trying to attract more segments of the industry here. Our convention is a big deal—it really gives us exposure to the industry.”

Industry observers applauded CFI for its efforts to bring more awareness to this critical issue. “CFI is at the forefront with the installation issue,” said Don Styka, director of field services for Tarkett North America. “CFI has set a training protocol that you’re going to learn the right way to do things. They teach people how to use the tools properly, what tools to use, etc.—and that’s half the battle.”

Other highlights
CFI organizers expanded the scope of its educational programming by moving beyond installation-related matters. For example, WFCA’s Humphrey led a session titled, “Leadership Strategies That Work,” and Jeff King, counsel for the WFCA, conducted a presentation, “Are You Ready for an Immigration Raid or Audit?”

In his talk, King noted there are 27 million foreign-born workers in the U.S. today, or nearly 17% of the workforce; 13% of construction workers, which includes flooring installers, are undocumented. “What would we do without them?” King asked. “You think you have installation issues now? Without them, there would be no installation.”

King said President Trump has committed to adding 10,000 investigators to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) taskforce to go after undocumented immigrants; he noted that the construction industry is a likely target.

CFI announced it is in the process of finalizing a contract to open a new training facility in Shanghai, China. The office is expected to open Sept. 4.

Lastly, CFI announced several personnel changes. Jill Sheets, who served as the association’s training advisor, has left the group for an opportunity outside the flooring industry. Her replacement will handle outreach and recruiting. And in a related move, CFI is closing its Lenexa, Kan., facility and moving all operations to Forney, where its main training facility is based.

 

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Retail education: Training remains priority No. 1

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.30.07 AMThis special FCNews Retail Education series, sponsored by 3M, is designed to help specialty retailers build their business through proven merchandising and marketing strategies as well as general best practices.

 

 

August 14/21, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 5

A flooring retailer stood up at a trade conference and bemoaned the amount of training he was providing his staff. “What if I spend the next year training them and then they leave—maybe even go to the competition?”

Sitting nearby, a second retailer stood up and said: “That may be true but what if you don’t provide any training, and they decide to stay with you?”

Professional training—whether it’s for sales associates or installers—may be a necessary evil in the flooring trade but it is necessary nonetheless.

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.26.37 AM“Training your employees will give you a return on your investment that is practically immediate—and it never ends,” said Donato Pompo, president, Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants.

Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), said training is more important than ever. “The bottom half of most any market is gone whether you are selling flooring or T-bone steaks. For the independent retailer I think their real fertile fields are middle and up, and the customer is going to want more from an associate than what she can find with a national chain. Those who are succeeding are doing so selling better goods, and the better goods need to be sold with the right sales help.”

To that end, the WFCA continues to refresh is training curriculum, which is divided into management and sales modules. The association is working on a certification for its online university so it can “hold people accountable,” Jennings said. “The average retailer does about $2.4 million and not all of those people have had business management classes. You’d be amazed how many people don’t know ‘mark up’ from ‘margin.’”

Following is an update on the various training programs available from several major flooring industry associations.

WFCA
WFCA University has expanded training programs by nearly 20%, with 46 training modules available online through its subscription program and 11 new destination camps planned in seven locations across the U.S.

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.27.55 AMThe extensive training program offers educational courses for professionals in a wide variety of functions such as sales, merchandising and human resources. The coursework is broken down based on the career path and professional stage. “Upon initial launch of the WFCA University program we saw many middle-, senior- and owner-level executives tapping into the training program,” said Freida Staten, vice president of marketing and communications. “Since that time, the adoption rate of our program has broadened to include many professionals in the early and middle stages of their careers.”

CFI
The CFI Institute offers accelerated training and professional certification to individuals seeking to learn how to install all types of flooring. “We created our school and launched the first accelerated carpet installation training course as part of our commitment to tackle the installation problem that touches everyone in our industry,” said Robert Varden, vice president. “Together with WFCA and our many supportive partners, we are working continuously to put an end to a problem that affects everyone.”

Through the proprietary class, CFI can take individuals with no prior experience or knowledge in flooring and—after an intensive, five-week course—turn out certified residential carpet installers capable of completing a highly professional job in a standard three-bedroom home. In addition to the accelerated carpet class, the school offers long- and short-term training programs in every flooring product category for students at all levels.

INSTALL
With polished concrete flooring growing in popularity as an attractive option for large commercial and retail spaces across America, INSTALL—the Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.26.42 AMInternational Standards and Training Alliance—is are working quickly to produce dedicated training for the installation and finishing process. “There is a surprising amount of care that goes into concrete floor polishing,” said Mark Olson, INSTALL flooring instructor at the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters. “Untrained installers can miss critical steps, including scratch-testing to ensure the concrete has reached an adequate level of hardness.”

Large installations can have hundreds of pours, meaning multiple rounds of scratch and moisture testing are necessary. Much like hardwood flooring, it is critical that installers use special vacuums to remove all dust and debris between polishings, experts say. If anything is left over, it can easily scratch the floor and the team will have to start over. As an INSTALL subject matter expert, Olson flies to the Carpenter’s International Training Center once a month to develop curriculum that will help prevent these failures from occurring in the first place.

“We are hard at work developing classroom and hands-on training specifically geared toward polished concrete flooring,” he said. “From dying concrete to creating insets with logos, INSTALL will be the only organization with a formal training manual for concrete polishing and resinous flooring. It’s cutting edge.”

NWFA
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.26.46 AMThe National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) offers training for wood flooring sales both in person and online through NWFA University. Since being launched a year ago, more than 15,000 online courses have been completed. Online training, in particular, is extremely convenient because large sales crews can be trained simultaneously. At the same time, individual members can complete the training at their own pace. “It also allows us to provide timely, accurate education in a way that is extremely affordable,” said Stephanie Owen, NWFA director of education and member engagement. NWFA’s training costs $100 per company per year, and any number of company employees can participate in the training even if they are in multiple locations.

Another advantage of NWFA University, according to Owen, is the digital “badging” component. Digital badges are graphic images that represent a learned skill; in NWFA’s case they also contain metadata verifying the recipient’s proficiency with that skill. This metadata includes the date the badge was earned, information about NWFA as the issuer of the badge and the specific skill that was learned and confirmed through testing. These digital badges can be shared publically on social media platforms, websites and e-mails to market the sales associate’s expertise. They also can become part of the sales associate’s life-long digital resume.

NTCA
The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) has completed the first year of related content for its Apprenticeship Program. Year one of the two-year online training program consists of 64 courses that serve as an introduction to the tile industry beginning with the basics of cutting, mixing and grouting before moving on to surface preparation, underlayment application and other installation processes.

With 500 enrollments for the first year of curriculum, these courses are intended to support contractors in training by serving as a training resource for employees who are new to the industry or for those who may be affiliated with the contractor’s Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program.

In addition to proper training for new hires, these courses may also serve as continued education for tile professionals who would like to refresh their memory on basic industry knowledge. “When we started developing these courses, I knew very little of the actual tile installation process including materials, tools and all of the steps required before installing tile,” said Becky Serbin, NTCA training and education coordinator. “We worked with experienced contractors and manufacturers to simplify the courses so someone such as myself, who is new to the installation process, would be able to understand industry terminology and apply course information on the job.”

Ceramic Tile and Stone
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 10.28.29 AMAt Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, Pompo developed a university (UofCTS.org) tool featuring online training courses for tile and stone salespeople and installers. The courses are developed with the latest technology to maximize learning and retention. The courses take five to eight hours to complete, and the student can take the course in one night or over a two-week period with 24/7 access. Upon completion, students receive a personalized certificate and a student reference guide that can be downloaded and kept for reference.

The “Understanding the Basics of Tile” and “Basics of Stone” courses are designed to give students the requisite background and technical information while teaching them how to professionally sell using consultative approach. “Students who complete these courses become immediately more effective in their jobs,” Pompo explained. “It gives them knowledge, confidence and credibility in the eyes of the customer. The student becomes confident and feels good about their knowledge, which motivates them and improves their performance.”

UofCTS includes the “Tile Installer Thin-set Standards” (ITS) verification course, which teaches installers the industry installation standards, practices and methods so they can avoid costly failures. The course is available in English or Spanish.

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FCLC to hold second Installation Summit

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 9.35.06 AMOrlando, Fla.—Leaders from across the flooring industry will convene at the second Installation Summit next month here, according to Robert Blochinger, president, National Institute of Certified Floorcovering Inspectors, and chairman of the Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC).

Retail owners, executives and other key personnel will meet on August 16 to discuss the installation crisis affecting the industry, progress made since leaders began addressing the problem and methods for furthering that progress. The meeting will take place at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando just prior to the 2017 CFI Convention. The Installation Summit, presented by Informa, will include an esteemed panel of industry members and experts who have been leading the campaign to manage and overcome the installation crisis.

“The FCLC, together with organizations including Certified Floorcovering Installers Association, have made great strides over the past two years in our efforts to resolve the installation crisis that touches everyone in our industry both domestically as well as internationally,” said Blochinger. “When we formed FCLC we worked together with leaders from all sectors of the business to identify the hurdles that are preventing growth and success in our industry. Installation shortage was the leader of the pack.”

For more information visit tinyurl.com/installationsummit or contact Blochinger at 954-830-4426 or bob@blochinger.net.

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CFI partners with Beaulieu do Brasil to bring installation training overseas

CFIForney, Texas—An international CFI training seminar commissioned by Beaulieu do Brasil was successfully completed in Ponta Grossa, Brazil, according to Robert Varden, vice president, CFI. The seminar took place May 9-18.

Varden and Efren Llamas, Jr., CFI trainer, traveled to Brazil to meet with Marc Vancamelbeke, industrial director, Beaulieu do Brasil. Together they provided training for 39 installation professionals who came from all regions of Brazil to learn high-end patterned carpet and resilient installation techniques. The training featured the partnership of Mapei Brasil, which provided product throughout the class.

“Through our talented staff and dedicated partners, we are able to take our expert-led CFI training courses on the road or overseas almost seamlessly, as the need arises,” Varden said. “In addition to our South American training we are also scheduled to take our courses to China in 2018 and our South African chapter, FITA, continues to add CFI training and certification to their installation programs on an ongoing basis.”

CFI has been Beaulieu do Brasil’s go-to source for installation training, explained Vancamelbeke. “They are true professionals who understand the nuances and varying details in every market wherever they do business – domestically and internationally. Our students in Brazil were thrilled with the results and have been busy applying their new skills on jobs throughout the country.”

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WFCA, Abbey Carpet form alliance

WFCA logoDalton, Ga.—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) and Abbey Carpet have entered an alliance focused on improving the business environment for flooring retailers from coast to coast, according to Scott Humphrey, CEO, WFCA; Philip Gutierrez, chairman and CEO, Abbey Carpet; and Steve Silverman, president and COO, Abbey Carpet.

With complementary foundations focused solely on the success and advancement of the flooring retailer, a union between WFCA and Abbey was a natural move for both organizations. Through the affiliation with Abbey, WFCA’s political clout and footprint with key constituents in Washington, D.C, will expand substantially.

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 4.02.34 PM“The business landscape is rapidly changing and, as we have always done, we are firmly committed to empowering our member retailers with the best business tools and practices available,” Gutierrez said. “We witnessed the [WFCA] transform itself into an organization focused solely on the needs of the flooring retailer.”

WFCA has taken on many initiatives over the past few years to empower flooring retailers and give them the tools and skills to stay on top of their game, Humphrey explained. “Aligning with like-minded organizations throughout the flooring industry, like Abbey, benefits every retailer in our industry. Through this affiliation our voice and our leverage is amplified in Washington, giving us an even stronger impact on politics, laws and regulations that effect retailers.”

Silverman said that what motivates WFCA also motivates Abbey. “Through our alignment with WFCA, we will provide greater benefits and resources to our member stores, including WFCA University training as well as a steady supply of installer graduates through CFI,” he added. “Our new relationship with WFCA will be a win-win for all concerned.”