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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.”

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CFI honors recent graduates

CFIForney, Texas—CFI’s floor installation training school is honoring its 5th graduating class, according to Robert Varden, vice president. The CFI Institute offers accelerated training and professional certification to individuals seeking to learn how to install all types of flooring. Graduates of the most recent residential carpet installation class came from across the United States, from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, New England and the Southeast.

“We created our school and launched the very first accelerated carpet installation training course as part of our commitment to tackle the installation problem that touches everyone in our industry,” said Varden. “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.

The next accelerated carpet installation class begins this month at the CFI school in Forney, Texas. In addition to the accelerated carpet class, the school also offers long- and short-term training programs in every flooring product category for students at all levels. For more information or to register for the new carpet installation class or another program visit: cfiinstallers.org/school.html.

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Installation: Adhesive tips, tricks of the trade

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Lindsay Baillie

 

When it comes to working with today’s advanced, high-performance, user-friendly adhesives, it’s critical that installers avoid the temptation of taking shortcuts. That’s according to expert floor layers and instructors who say improper installations due to misapplication of adhesives can cause a host of problems, including voided warranties, bad company reviews and even safety risks.

FCNews rounded up several experts who provided valuable tips to apply when working with adhesives.

Practice safety
Steve Zizek, an INSTALL floor covering instructor and member, College of Carpenters & Allied Trades, Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, is a second-generation installer with 33 years of experience. When training new installers, he always stresses the importance of having a material safety data sheet (MSDS) on site. Sounds rudimentary, but the MSDS provides health and safety information about products, substances or chemicals, as well as information on manufacturers or importing suppliers.

“The MSDS needs to be provided upon delivery to the job site,” Zizek explained. “This not only protects the users but also all workers on the job site. They should actually have [the MSDS] before they bring the adhesive to the job. It’s mainly a safety issue for everyone at the site.”

Read the label
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.39.37 AMOne key component to maintaining safety on the installation site is to fully understand how a particular flooring glue is designed to work. According to Zizek, when a new adhesive comes out older installers tend to make assumptions about what it can do. “Read the whole label of the adhesive being used. The label will give you the adhesive’s uses, full information, descriptions, industry standards, etc. Make no assumptions.”

Once the label is read and understood, then it’s a matter of following the instructions to the letter. So says Mark Bevacqua, INSTALL floor covering instructor, Floorlayers Union Local 1541, Delta, British Columbia, Canada. “There are no shortcuts when it comes to adhesives. Always follow the specifications from the manufacturers as closely as possible. Many manufacturers even have apps or online sites where you can get a lot of information about the adhesive. A lot of suppliers have tip lines where you can talk to representatives and ask questions.”

Apply correct trowel techniques
Dave Gross, INSTALL floor covering instructor, Local 251 UBC Floorlayers, Hammonton, N.J., suggests using the teeth of a hand trowel as a metering device for applying adhesive to the substrate. “However, it is important to note that the angle at which the trowel blade is held and the hand pressure applied is just as important as the tooth configuration.”

For example, Gross said an angle of 50 to 65 degrees is typically correct. However, the installer should check if the manufacturer offers a recommended angle. In terms of hand pressure, he said too much force causes compression of the teeth and scraping of the glue causing a deficiency. Conversely, insufficient pressure causes the teeth to ride over the glue leaving excess material. “The best verification for proper teeth, trowel angle and hand pressure is to actually measure and grid out a sample area and see if you are meeting the manufacturers spread rate coverage. If not, adjust these elements one at a time by spreading additional grid areas until you align with the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

When covering large areas, experts like Robert Varden, CEO, International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), suggest flipping the trowel around. “We turn our trowel backwards so when we’re spreading thousands of yards of adhesive we have less fatigue on our forearms.”

In terms of the trowel’s teeth, Mark Olsen, INSTALL floor covering instructor and member of North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Pewaukee, Wis., warns installers to throw away old devices. “When you’re using your trowel or metering device don’t re-notch your device—just throw it away.”

Keep it clean
When applying adhesives, pro installers say it is important to be as neat as possible. It’s also important to be prepared for any spills or mishaps that could happen. “[Installers] should keep a damp white rag close to them, but not on the substrate as it could cause contamination,” Zizek explained. “Keep the rag just in case there are any emergencies—it is easier to clean the adhesive when it’s wet.”

Check the room’s conditions
Before applying the adhesive, be aware of the amount of air circulation and atmospheric conditions in the work area. As Gross explains: “I always recommend against placing a fan directly on the adhesive to increase drying time for the following reasons: It will not uniformly cover the whole area; it will tend to dry the top creating a skim and preventing moisture trapped in the lower area from properly drying. There is a potential for dirt and debris to blow into the glue.”

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CFI enters international partnership with FiTA

cfiDallas—Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) has partnered with the South African Flooring Industry Training Association (FiTA) to bring ongoing floor covering installation training classes and certification to professionals throughout the country and beyond.

Nearly 10 years ago, CFI began working with Belgotex Floorcoverings, a carpet manufacturer based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to help establish a formal training program and institute qualification guidelines for professional installers.

“At the time we entered this market there were no set standards and no rules governing flooring installation in the country,” said Robert Varden, vice president of CFI. “The lack of qualified installers in the flooring industry is a global issue. In 2013, The South African Flooring Industry Training Association was formed to address the installation crisis facing the flooring industry. Great strides have been made working with both trade and government officials to clearly define necessary schooling and hands on training requirements for installation professionals that will be overseen by the government and will be required to practice the trade.”

FitaCFI, together with FiTA South Africa, will continue to facilitate installation training and accreditation through apprenticeship programs for entry-level flooring installers who undergo comprehensive hands-on and classroom training. ‘Prior Learning’ accreditation will be made available for installers who are already working and have experience.

To date, over 150 graduates have completed the 12-month training program and apprenticeship and now hold a National Certificate Installation of Floor Coverings. Through an additional regional partner, Belgotex Floorcoverings, CFI and FiTA have entered an arrangement with local youth endowment organizations to bring installation training to school children, grades 6-10. Upon completion, these students will have a floor laying skill, which will enable them to find jobs as entry-level flooring installers.

For more information visit the CFI website or call 816-231-4646.

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Latest WFCA initiatives aim to support independent retail members

December 19/26, 2016: Volume 31, Number 14
By Ken Ryan

wfca-logo-2016Dalton—The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has announced a series of initiatives designed to benefit independent dealers. Chief among them is a three-tiered membership structure tailored to meet their specific business needs.

Since its founding in 1959, the WFCA had offered members a one-tier approach. But as Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, said, “It was a one-size-fits-all approach, and you know the saying—‘one size fits all fits nobody.’ We have some smaller dealers and some individuals who don’t have the demand and need for some of the services we offer.”

Conversely, the WFCA has large dealer members who require the full menu of services the association offers. The three levels, created under a good/better/best model, are called Sustaining ($295 per year), Leader ($495) and Advocate ($795).

Sustaining members have access to all entry-level options, including signage on WFCA dealer locator, WFCA trade scholarship reimbursement, the association’s Financial Benchmarking Report, WFCA University, Public Affairs, Savings4Members business services, complimentary access to legal and business primers, a 20% discount on fcB2B programs and additional scholarship reimbursements.

Leader level members get all the Sustaining level benefits, as well as unrestricted trade scholarship reimbursements up to $500 and a 25% discount on fcB2B services.

Retailers at the Advocate level receive all the preceding benefits as well as a 30% fcB2B discount, CFI associate membership, a 20% discount on all WFCA/CFI training programs, CFI technical services support, access to the CFI installer database and a company listing on cfiinstallers.org. The scope and benefits of the WFCA Associate Membership program will not change under the new membership initiative.

“If somebody is serious about their business and intends to use the services, then the [Advocate] is the best one and works out to be the cheapest,” Jennings explained. Perhaps the best service in the Advocate program, he noted, is access to CFI technical services, which is a hotline to CFI installers. “If [a dealer’s] installers run into something they are not comfortable with they can call an 800 number and talk to a CFI master installer who most likely will be able to walk them through the necessary steps. It can save a claim, so it is well worth it.”

WFCA also announced new innovations to its booth at The International Surfaces Event [TISE] in Las Vegas in January, a streamlined, easy-to-navigate member website and WFCA University, an educational program designed to keep retailers at the top of their game.

WFCA’s online university is different than many flooring-related curriculums, according to the organization, in that its version is more business focused rather than product related. Modules include managing inventory levels, store expansion (where it might make sense) and creating a budget. There are 40 modules in all. Jennings and Dave Romano, founder of Romano Consulting Group and Benchmarkinc and an FCNews columnist, worked on the online university syllabus, which is geared to the decision makers of the business.

Jennings said dealers would make their annual fee back in rebates and discounts if they take advantage of all the services offered. “Just because we are a not-for-profit doesn’t mean we can’t make money,” he explained. “We can make money, we just have to give it back.”

The new layout of the Surfaces space will showcase all that WFCA has to offer its members using the organization’s Six Pillars of Relevance and Success. The segmented areas, which are color-coded, include: research, education, member benefits, philanthropy, advocacy and technology. As visitors move through the booth they will acquire a complete overview on all of the ways that WFCA enhances the businesses and the lives of its constituents, their employees and their customers through targeted projects and programs.

The WFCA is also renovating its website. In an effort to simplify and streamline communications, the association has transformed WFCA.org into a site geared toward both the industry and consumers. Key components of the consumer site have been folded into the new site, which is intended to draw members in with new design and fresh content. WFCA.org will debut at Surfaces.

The organization also has commissioned a redesign of Premier Flooring Retailer, its quarterly magazine.

Scott Humphrey, CEO, said the WFCA has made many changes over the past few years to better suit the needs of independent flooring dealers who make up the bulk of membership. “Some might say that we have reinvented ourselves,” he explained. “We see ourselves as the voice of the independent flooring dealer. It is our goal to continually ensure the profitability of our members by evolving with the market and creating the change our members say they need.”

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WFCA broadens categories for Gold Standard Awards

wfca-new-logo-no-background-no-tagDalton, Ga.—World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has expanded the format of its Gold Standard Award, which recognizes flooring retailers for outstanding achievement. Beginning in 2017, the award will have two categories, over $10 million and under $10 million, to better accommodate retailers of all sizes.

For both categories, retailers are judged based on: knowledge, customer service, quality of store image and code of conduct. In addition, companies must also be members of the WFCA, have been in business for at least 3 years and have favorable Better Business Bureau reports.

The first place winners from both categories will win the choice of two-day CFI on-site custom class in carpet seaming or sales training or a one-year WFCA University tuition for online training. Second and third place winners from both categories will receive six-month WFCA University tuition and three-month WFCA University tuition, respectively.

To enter, applicants must complete the submission form and present multimedia marketing materials and other documents. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 15, 2016. Companies interested in entering or nominating an entrant can visit wfca-pro.org for more details.

The award winners will be announced at TISE 2017 in Las Vegas.

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CFI announces partnership with Legacy Flooring to help veterans

unknownLenexa, Kan.—The International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association, Inc. (CFI) announced a partnership with Legacy Flooring of Raleigh, N.C., to help transitioning veterans find a career in the floor covering installation trade.

Under their non-profit entity, Leave A Legacy Foundation, Legacy Flooring’s mission is to assist the CFI with the Next Generation initiative to recruit new installers for the floorcovering installation industry. Their personnel will work with the various military transition offices in an attempt to attract veterans and their families to the training classes.

“Legacy Flooring has always prioritized hiring veterans. I became aware of CFI’s Next Generation initiative earlier this year,” said Ian Durant, owner and CEO, Legacy Flooring. “The CFI has been the gold standard for flooring installation training for over 23 years so it made perfect sense to align with them.”

According to CFI sources, the organization is in the process of submitting an application to the state of Texas to become a Veteran’s Administration authorized trade school. This would allow post-9/11 veterans and their families to have their tuitions subsidized by the G.I. Bill, and pre-9/11 veterans by the Montgomery Bill and others.

“We are glad to have the assistance of Legacy Flooring for the Next Generation initiative,” said Robert Varden, vice president, CFI. “We have a brick and mortar training center in Forney, Texas, which has conducted a handful of successful training classes to date. One of our ongoing challenges continues to be the amount of travel required by our enrolled students. By establishing a network of donated service providers and military spaces, our partner, Legacy Flooring, will help CFI bring students much closer to a classroom. This will help to drive enrollment by identifying new training spaces with a focus on underutilized military property.”

Legacy Flooring will also partner with other installation service providers, like Installation Services of Troy, in Michigan, to share ideas and recruit other like-minded service providers to establish schools across the country. “Our industry is in competition with dozens of other construction trades. Individuals can make a really good living in our business as a hard working apprentice and then make the jump to a journeyman business owner with multiple crews in a relatively short amount of time compared to those in other trades,” said Dave Garden, installation services operations manager and CFI master II certified installer.

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CFI conference emphasizes pride, professionalism

By Ken Ryan

Grapevine, Texas—Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) recently held its 23rd convention. The theme at this year’s show was #IamCFI, which conveyed the message: “Your individual commitment is what makes the organization great.”

Robert Varden, vice president of the CFI division of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), opened the conference by asking for a number of hands of first-time attendees. He was taken aback by the high head count. “The first timers are knocking it out of the park this year,” he said. “That’s the future of this organization.”

Conference organizers cited a 50% uptick in the number of vendors compared to last year. This helped contribute to an increase in attendance overall. “You have never been held in higher esteem in the industry than you are today,” said Scott Humphrey, WFCA president and CEO, in his remarks to installers. “You are so vital to the success of retailers and that is starting to resonate.”

The timing of the CFI conference was fortuitous. Prior to the start of the event, nearly 80 industry executives convened for an installation summit at the Omni Dallas Hotel to discuss the installation conundrum—the need to raise standards for today’s installers and, more importantly, sourcing for the next generation.

As part of that event, seven industry professionals participated in a panel discussion. Tom Lape, president of Mohawk residential; Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington Mills; and Mark Shannon, executive vice president of sales, Crossville, represented manufacturers. Other panelists included Fred Williamson of Starnet, Brett Miller of the National Wood Flooring Association, Tom Cartmell of Mr. David’s Flooring International, and Mike Welch of E.J. Welch Company.

Humphrey, who moderated the panel, relayed to CFI members that “having representatives from all areas of industry come together says your trade matters.”

An increase in the number of first-timers at CFI help drive up overall attendance numbers compared to last year.
An increase in the number of first-timers at CFI help drive up overall attendance numbers compared to last year.

Supporting the trade

CCA Global Partners has increased its commitment to the CFI. Through a partnership with WFCA, members of CCA’s floor covering divisions will be provided with incentives to bring new hires to the industry, and the CFI will train and qualify them. Through this partnership, members of Carpet One Floor & Home, Flooring America/Flooring Canada and International Design Guild will benefit from tuition credits and discounts from both CCA and WFCA. “CCA members have been asking for help in recruiting and training more installers and we feel this program will help them meet the challenge,” said Charlie Dilks, chief product officer of CCA Global Partners.

Humphrey said it was exciting to see CCA making a significant investment to help resolve an industry-wide problem. “CCA adds a lot of credibility to what we are doing.”

One thing that needs to change, however, is how the installation trade is viewed and marketed, according to Humphrey. Rather than identifying these professionals as “floor layers” or “installers” he said “artisans” and “craftsmen” are more appropriate terms. “I don’t like to dumb down the trade. After all, it’s the quality of the installation that will lead to a customer’s long-term happiness with a project.”

The challenge of recruiting the next generation of installers is not relegated to the U.S. A visitor from South Africa at the CFI convention said the issue impacts South Africa and other regions just as much. Indeed, the shortage is not just a flooring issue as it affects other skilled trades. Construction, for instance, has the lowest unemployment of any trade, largely because of a paucity of qualified workers seeking jobs in the field.

“Why is finding the next generation so hard?” Humphrey asked in response to a question. “Well, millennials are not great with their hands and we have demonized the trades. We have to extol the benefits. You don’t need a degree to be an installer, so you won’t have the student debt that college students face. [In flooring installation] you work in a controlled, safe environment—there is plenty of work to go around. The pay is good and if you want security for the next 20 years, this profession is for you.”

Scott Humphrey, WFCA president and CEO, told CFI installers: “Your trade matters.”
Scott Humphrey, WFCA president and CEO, told CFI installers: “Your trade matters.”
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FCLC reconvenes to discuss, address industry issues, initiatives

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 8.51.48 AMCharlotte, N.C.—As part of its mission to work together to resolve some of the flooring industry’s largest issues, the Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC) conducted its first meeting of 2016 on April 29 here. Fourteen volunteer representatives from flooring industry associations representing all sectors of the industry attended the meeting.

The two-year-old group’s initiatives, decided on in 2015, include improving communications between member groups and the industry, collaborating and sharing industry-wide professional training programs between member organizations, and addressing needs and issues related to the installation crisis.

As part of its initiative to streamline communications and cooperation between organizations, members of each group comprising FCLC provided a general overview and update on the state of their respective groups at the meeting. Discussion points included general news, executive hires and staff changes, upcoming events, and industry-related issues facing each association. Once each organization shared its updates, members collaborated to discuss which of the issues faced by their groups could be better addressed by working together at the local, state and national levels. In addition, representatives shared information on their own training programs and initiatives that are available for use by members of other FCLC associations. Updates on the group’s own website, fclcouncil.org, which houses a database of all member industry events as well as industry news, were also discussed.

One of the most pressing topics for the group at its April meeting was the need to address and resolve the installation crisis. Certified Floorcovering Installer’s Association (CFI), whose own mission is tied closest to this industry-wide issue, provided updates about the launch of its new school located just outside of Dallas. Throughout the year the school provides a full schedule of professional installation training and certification to students at all levels and in every category of flooring. In addition to its lineup of ongoing courses, the school also regularly offers a one-of-a-kind, proprietary accelerated five-week carpet installation training course throughout the year. Robert Varden, vice president, CFI, shared news about international attention that the school has attracted. He told the FCLC attendees that discussions of CFI training programs overseas are underway.

FCLC attendees also elected members to fill open positions for the 2017-2019 term. The term begins January 1, 2017 and ends December 31, 2019.

  • Chair- Michael Martin, NWFA
  • Chair-Elect- Bob Blochinger, NICFI
  • Secretary- Kim Oderkirk, FCICA
  • Chair of Communications- Kevin Gammonley, NAFCD
  • Chair of Training- Stephanie Owen, NWFA
  • Chair of Installation- Robert Varden, CFI
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CFI 2016 convention will offer education, networking opportunities

PastedGraphic-1Dallas—The annual CFI convention is the go-to event for information on new products, tools, techniques and installation training. The show packs everything installers need to know into two days. This year’s highly anticipated program will take place here August 3-5.

The CFI convention attracts professionals from every sector of the flooring industry. It is the show “where all of the business surrounding installation happens”—a uniquely dedicated launching pad for companies debuting their latest offerings.

A few of the standout agenda items planned for this year’s convention include:

ŸCustom vinyl inset workshop: Leading technical trainers from Tarkett, Congoleum and Armstrong team up to present this hands-on workshop where attendees will create custom vinyl insets they can take home.

ŸHand sewing workshop: Presented by the CFI Training Team, stations will be set up for various hand-sewing stitch demos attendees will be able to complete and take home as a reference for future installations.

Inspection trends roundtable: Manufacturers, retailers, installers and inspectors will have the opportunity to present, discuss and answer questions and concerns about the latest trends in inspections.

“Understanding How You Are Wired – The DISC Behavioral Profile” presented by Scott Humphrey, CEO of the World Floor Covering Association: Understand yourself and those you work and live with. Humphrey will identify possible friction points between different personality types and give practical advice on improving relationships with colleagues, family, etc.

CFI has secured special discounted rates at the Marriott Grapevine that includes both the Courtyard and the TownePlace Suites. For more informatio, as well as a full convention program, visit the CFI website at cfiinstallers.org. If you have further questions about the convention, call 816-231-4646.