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Group membership, participation buck trends

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Biloxi, Miss.—Mature associations ordinarily don’t see a 25% increase in membership year-over-year after 36 years in business. But these are no ordinary times for the FCICA, the flooring contractors’ association, which has experienced explosive growth on several fronts, as was evidenced at its annual convention here last month.

Total membership climbed to 250 in 2018, up from 201 a year ago, and attendance at the 2018 convention set a new mark, including 78 first-time attendees. But that’s not all. FCICA’s signature Certified Installation Manager (CIM) program has seen dramatic participatory growth as well, with 65 total certifications now achieved, up from 28 a year ago.

So what gives? “It speaks to commitment of this group,” Mike Newberry, chairman of the FCICA, told FCNews. “We want to separate ourselves from the competition.”

The effort to differentiate starts with the CIM program, which was launched in 2015 to support installation managers’ continued training and professional development. It grew slowly but has now garnered support from outside FCICA. Install, for example, in support of FCICA, funds a $1,225 scholarship that provides the opportunity for one flooring professional to enroll and successfully complete the CIM training curriculum.

Association members have gotten behind CIM as well. Several large contractors have enrolled multiple individuals to complete the course. Metroflor believed enough in the program that it is funding a CIM scholarship so one contractor could send a candidate through the program. “I owned a contracting business at one time and I understand the value of education,” said David Altman, director of research and development, Metroflor. “CIM is a good program, one of the best things FCICA has going for it. To manage a project is a different art all together.”

J.R. Allred, general manager for Dalton Carpet One Floor & Home, Athens, Ga., concurred. “There really isn’t anything like it in the industry,” he said.  “What it really is, is a certified project manager program.”

Newberry said he knew it would take time for CIM to grow because in the beginning FCICA was doing all the marketing. But, he noted, it was an effort worth pursuing. “We made CIM our No. 1 priority; we staked our claim to this program. It is a risk when you say you’re going to hang your hat on something, but you have to lead with your heart and have faith.”

The growth of the CIM program has coincided with an uptick in overall membership. Newberry said credit goes to the entire FCICA family as well as membership chairman Pat Kelly, who has worked diligently to get the word out and recruit. In the past year, FCICA has attended both the Starnet and FUSE conferences and signed up additional members. It should be noted FCICA isn’t poaching members from these associations but rather encouraging individuals or companies to add FCICA to their ledger. As Newberry explained, “It’s not either this association or that association. It’s about all of us getting better as an industry.”

FCICA’s Successors group of under 40-year-old leaders is another example of solid growth. Three years ago, Successors was merely an idea. Today it has 33 members and counting. “This is an important group because if we don’t take steps now to bring the next set along we’ll be doomed,” Newberry said. “The more really good people you have, the better off you are.”

Fortunately for FCICA, it has many good people willing to invest their time to enhance the association. “Again, it speaks to this group because volunteer positions can go one of two ways. You can have a title and then show up to a meeting once in a while, or you can take the title seriously and make things happen. We could have Kim [Oderkirk, the executive director] do all the work, or we could all take part and pitch in, and that is what we did with this group.”

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FCICA convention: Group membership, participation buck trends

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By Ken Ryan

 

Biloxi, Miss.—Mature associations ordinarily don’t see a 25% increase in membership year-over-year after 36 years in business. But these are no ordinary times for the FCICA, the flooring contractors’ association, which has experienced explosive growth on several fronts, as was evidenced at its annual convention here last month.

Total membership climbed to 250 in 2018, up from 201 a year ago, and attendance at the 2018 convention set a new mark, including 78 first-time attendees. But that’s not all. FCICA’s signature Certified Installation Manager (CIM) program has seen dramatic participatory growth as well, with 65 total certifications now achieved, up from 28 a year ago.

So what gives? “It speaks to commitment of this group,” Mike Newberry, chairman of the FCICA, told FCNews. “We want to separate ourselves from the competition.”

The effort to differentiate starts with the CIM program, which was launched in 2015 to support installation managers’ continued training and professional development. It grew slowly but has now garnered support from outside FCICA. Install, for example, in support of FCICA, funds a $1,225 scholarship that provides the opportunity for one flooring professional to enroll and successfully complete the CIM training curriculum.

Association members have gotten behind CIM as well. Several large contractors have enrolled multiple individuals to complete the course. Metroflor believed enough in the program that it is funding a CIM scholarship so one contractor could send a candidate through the program. “I owned a contracting business at one time and I understand the value of education,” said David Altman, director of research and development, Metroflor. “CIM is a good program, one of the best things FCICA has going for it. To manage a project is a different art all together.”

J.R. Allred, general manager for Dalton Carpet One Floor & Home, Athens, Ga., concurred. “There really isn’t anything like it in the industry,” he said.  “What it really is, is a certified project manager program.”

Newberry said he knew it would take time for CIM to grow because in the beginning FCICA was doing all the marketing. But, he noted, it was an effort worth pursuing. “We made CIM our No. 1 priority; we staked our claim to this program. It is a risk when you say you’re going to hang your hat on something, but you have to lead with your heart and have faith.”

The growth of the CIM program has coincided with an uptick in overall membership. Newberry said credit goes to the entire FCICA family as well as membership chairman Pat Kelly, who has worked diligently to get the word out and recruit. In the past year, FCICA has attended both the Starnet and FUSE conferences and signed up additional members. It should be noted FCICA isn’t poaching members from these associations but rather encouraging individuals or companies to add FCICA to their ledger. As Newberry explained, “It’s not either this association or that association. It’s about all of us getting better as an industry.”

FCICA’s Successors group of under 40-year-old leaders is another example of solid growth. Three years ago, Successors was merely an idea. Today it has 33 members and counting. “This is an important group because if we don’t take steps now to bring the next set along we’ll be doomed,” Newberry said. “The more really good people you have, the better off you are.”

Fortunately for FCICA, it has many good people willing to invest their time to enhance the association. “Again, it speaks to this group because volunteer positions can go one of two ways. You can have a title and then show up to a meeting once in a while, or you can take the title seriously and make things happen. We could have Kim [Oderkirk, the executive director] do all the work, or we could all take part and pitch in, and that is what we did with this group.”

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Installments: Vetting a certified floor covering inspector

By Paul Pleshek

 

“We are sending an inspector,” are not always the most comforting words an installer or retailer hears. Some are concerned the inspector has a bias for the manufacturer, others don’t have high regard for certain inspectors in their area. Whatever the concern, how can a materially invested party know the inspector will handle the claim in a fair, thorough and neutral way?

A commonly expressed concern about inspectors is whether they are intentionally biased for the party that is paying; however, that is the least likely cause of bias. It is the prejudice that comes from past experiences as an installer, retailer, manufacturer or cleaner that undermines an otherwise well-intentioned inspector. This is called confirmation or my-side bias. It is the tendency to search for, interpret and recall information in a way that confirms one’s hypotheses while giving less consideration to alternative possibilities. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. This type of bias affects every party involved in a claim, even the inspector.

A qualified inspector avoids bias thorough application of the scientific method employed to make observations, develop related questions, formulate a hypothesis, test the hypothesis and conclude or refine the hypothesis until it is consistent with most/all of available data. Proper application of the scientific method requires an in-depth understanding of the entire flooring industry including manufacturing, specification, installation, maintenance and environmental conditions. The qualified inspector has a network of connections in each of the inter-related industries and attends educational events from a wide variety of sources to avoid communal bias which comes from only interacting with people of the same opinion.

Second, when looking for a qualified inspector, it is important to know his experience, certification and continuing education. Inspector certification can come from private companies or industry associations like the IICRC, NWFA or CFI. Ultimately, the certification is simply proof of the minimal training and understanding required for the inspection process and report writing. For that reason, the most important factor in becoming a professional inspector is continuing education. The flooring industry changes constantly and keeping up with new developments is imperative. Most certifications require two credits per year, which translates to about 12-16 hours of classroom time. That amount of training is insufficient to stay abreast of industry advances and changing inspection techniques. In addition, the greater the number of inspector certifications means more education is required. Therefore, the highly qualified inspector attends training frequently throughout each year and varies that training from different associations, manufacturers and professional organizations.

Ultimately, personal interaction with the inspector is the best way to determine his qualifications, knowledge base, problem-solving abilities and possible bias. Get to know the inspectors in your area. Conduct an interview, debate issues and try to determine the inspector’s ability to reason and explain complicated concepts. See if he or she possesses an understanding of all segments of the flooring industry and how each can affect the other. Are they certified for substrates, maintenance, repair/installation or do they just have a few days’ training for several complicated floor coverings?

When investigating the qualifications of an inspector, commissioning parties should look for how long the inspector has been certified, what type of continuing education has been attended each year, how many hours of continuing education, what associations and committees the inspector participates in and whether the inspector is advancing their industry through education with written articles, convention presentations or as a certification instructor. Proper vetting of the inspector’s qualifications will give a materially invested party piece of mind knowing the inspection will offer resolution to a claim, not further complicate matters.

 

 

Paul Pleshek is the president of the National Academy of Floor Coverings Training (NAFCT) and the owner/president of Floor Claim Solutions Inc. Paul has been in the floor coverings industry since 1990 and was first certified by the IICRC as a senior carpet inspector in 1995.

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Installments: Getting a better handle on large format tiles

November 6/13, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 11

By Dean Cunningham

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 10.41.07 AMLarge format tiles allow consumers to unleash a world of design possibilities and achieve a flawless, minimalist appearance to any residential or commercial space. As the contemporary, modern design trend continues to be a favorite among the consumer as well as installation professionals, large format tiles are creating major advantages in the marketplace.

When large format tiles were first introduced to the flooring industry, the tiles typically measured 1 or 2 feet in width and length. Now, after nearly a decade of development from tile flooring manufacturers, large format tiles can be as large as 10 feet x 5 feet or even larger in some custom flooring applications.

As large format tiles made of porcelain began building momentum with designers, the term “thin porcelain tile” was coined. Due to its increased popularity, manufacturers began producing larger sizes in different materials such as ceramic, glass and stone. Thin porcelain tiles have since been designed to be half the thickness and weight of conventional tile, making them lighter to carry on the jobsite and easier to work with than actual stone slabs. Because of their versatile style and manageability, large format tiles are often chosen by designers and installers alike to be featured on floors, countertops and walls, and they are continuously utilized in innovative ways. For example, with open floor plan layouts currently on trend, large format tiles are the ideal choice when needing to seamlessly integrate indoor and outdoor spaces such as the kitchen to the patio.

Large format tiles also often alter room size perception, tricking the eye into thinking the space is actually much larger than it appears. Additionally, tiles of this size mean far fewer grout lines and thinner grout joint widths, resulting in an easy-to-clean, uninterrupted finish.

New considerations
In recent years, these materials have presented new installation requirements and challenges. To completely benefit from the aesthetically pleasing nature of these finish types, there are several considerations to keep in mind when installing large format tiles.

To avoid lippage, proper substrate preparation is critical to achieving a flat, even finish and achieving the required coverage. When using self-leveling products, it is important installers also address moving joints and cracks in the substrate. If not addressed and repaired, moving joints and cracks can transfer up and cause cracks in the finish.

Other issues: Lack of proper adhesive mortar coverage can lead to cracked tile and grout and potentially loss of bond to the large format tiles. Since the panels are often very thin, it is also important for installers to pay extra attention to cleaning out any leftover adhesive mortar in the joints to ensure enough grout fills the grout joint.

Because of their size, large format tiles often require a longer cure time than standard tiles, especially when using a dense, porcelain-bodied product. To be proactive in meeting industry needs, manufacturers are required to stay on the cutting edge of technology and produce products that allow for a faster return to service.

 

Dean Cunningham is technical services manager for Laticrete. In his current capacity, he is responsible for a team that provides technical assistance to specifiers and construction professionals.

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Metroflor’s Aspecta brand to be spotlighted in FCICA webinar

aspecta logoNorwalk, Conn.—Metroflor is partnering with FCICA to host a promotional webinar exploring the company’s Aspecta commercial brand of LVT flooring. Metroflor invites all flooring installation professionals to participate in this free, interactive and educational presentation, Oct. 5 at 11 a.m. EST. The webinar will cover the Do’s and Don’ts of commercial installation involving WPC/rigid core floating floors and similar competitive constructions. Metroflor’s Dave Altman, director of research and development, and Paul Eanes, director of sales, will lead the discussion.

“As this is a relatively new flooring category, there is much misinformation and confusion as to where and how the installation should work,” Eanes said. “The failure to adequately define areas where industry technical experts feel comfortable with WPC-type product installations may determine the long-term commercial viability of the category.”

Altman will discuss the areas of usage for Metroflor’s Aspecta Ten rigid core product, along with key installation requirements and best practices, and when to specify dry back. The session will conclude with an audience Q & A.

For more information and to register, visit: fcica.com/webinars. The registration deadline is Oct. 4 at 3:00 p.m. EST.

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FCICA doubles down on educational initiatives

March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.24.55 AMSan Antonio—FCICA, the flooring contractors association, commemorated its 35th annual convention here by refocusing on its principal values: education, training and enhancing the skill sets of its core constituency—the professional installation manager.

“From what I have seen over the last six years, I think this group is as healthy as it has ever been—not just financially but in terms of great member retention,” Mike Newberry, chairman of the FCICA, told FCNews. “There is a renewed commitment and energy here, and we have a laser focus.”

The FCICA’s flagship program, what Newberry calls the group’s “cornerstone,” is the Certified Installation Manager (CIM) program. This eight-module curriculum provides training tools and assessment for qualified professionals within the commercial flooring space. To date, 29 have successfully completed CIM and there are 102 currently enrolled in the program. In addition to technical issues, installation managers learn “soft skills” such as how to professionally handle irate customers and deal with other issues that require strong interpersonal skills.

James Bissler of Texan Floor Service, Houston, said he became CIM certified because he wanted to separate himself and his company from the competition. “I have certified installers so it made sense to take the next step.”

Newberry said there is strong momentum for the CIM program, which is in its third year. “Being a member is great, but when you have non-members who want to participate in the training program it says a lot about its value. Internally we feel CIM is the only program of its kind in flooring that is training the project/ installation manager, which is a term we use interchangeably.”

Kelly Fuller, director of education, said the CIM program has information installation managers cannot find anywhere else. Best of all, it is all accessible online. “It is a program that is constantly evolving.”

The CIM emphasis comes at a time when the installation trade is being challenged on all fronts—from a dearth of qualified installers to the question of where and how to recruit the next generation of an aging workforce. Larry Chandler, commercial sales director for William M. Bird, a top 20 distributor, is chairman of the FCICA’s Member Benefits committee. He told members that educational opportunities like CIM are imperative. “Margins are getting squeezed all the time that it is almost impossible to go back out on a job site for a second time [without losing money on the project]. The job needs to be done right the first time.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 11.26.16 AMThe focus on continuing education carried over to the vendor trade program where product demonstrations were included during and after the four-hour trade show that featured 48 vendors. “Any organization willing to promote more training, the better off we all are—and FCICA is big in this area,” said Daniel Tallman, strategic business manager for Schönox, who conducted a product demonstration of the company’s newest synthetic gypsum self-leveling product. “We are a big proponent of getting the proper knowledge in the hands of the people who are going to be handling our material.”

Cathy McVey, customer service manager for Ceramic Tool Flooring Transitions, said she appreciated the interaction with the flooring contractors. “They made a point to come by and visit with us. All you want is a little traffic, and we had plenty of that.”

On the rise

This year’s convention featured 42 first-time attendees and eight new associate members. FCICA now has 201 members—108 contractors and 73 associate members (mostly suppliers).

One first-time attendee, Greg Epperson, technical services manager for Chilewich, which supplies carpet tile, broadloom and carpet mats to the commercial trade, noted, “I have been to some shows where the contractors come around and barely show interest in you. Here the contractors have genuinely been interested in our products and their uses.”

Of the 154 people in attendance in San Antonio 24 were considered “successors,” those less than 40 years old. Graham Capobianco, chairman of the Successors Committee, said his group plans to hold successor-specific programs to spur membership and promote greater involvement within the organization. “We are trending upward with successor involvement,” he told members. “We want to grow with existing members first.”

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Call for Entries: Certified Installation Manager Scholarship

install_logo_2color_pathsGlassboro, N.J.—Install, in collaboration with the FCICA, is offering a unique educational opportunity for installation managers to elevate professional skills. The Install Certified Installation Manager (CIM) Training Scholarship ($1150) will enroll the chosen candidate to successfully complete the training.

cimimage-123904Submissions are due by this Friday, Dec. 9, and the winner will be announced on Dec. 14.

 

 

 

 

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Installments: Entryway systems have both form and function

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

By Renee Hite

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-4-55-45-pmIn high-traffic commercial structures, flooring is one of the most critical components of an installation, but it’s usually the first thing that is compromised. An entryway is the first line of defense—the ideal starting point for trapping dirt and water.

Quick fixes using carpet tiles are often preferred, but they might not be the best, most cost-efficient approach. Too often, less-expensive alternatives only add to the problem but are often chosen over a permanent entrance flooring system due to short-term benefits like low initial cost. Carpet tiles installed at the entrance in lieu of a permanent entrance flooring system are subjected to oversaturation, unsightly stains and wear patterns, and may become the source of unpleasant odors. In addition, they typically need to be replaced frequently to keep up with the demands of a busy facility.

The significant role flooring systems play in ensuring entryways are kept clean and safe for building users and maintenance staff cannot be overstated. Entrance flooring systems are most efficient when installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications. It is important to work with a supplier and product that is proven to be ADA compliant with recessed or surface mounted frames and insert options that tackle common pain points.

Entrance flooring systems play an integral part by helping to keep the entrance safe from slip, trips and falls while providing defense against dirt and water entering your building in a variety of weather and geographical conditions. When dirt and water are introduced to carpet tiles, significant wear begins to occur, usually requiring frequent replacement and becoming costly after time. The purpose of all entrance flooring systems is to allow dirt and water to fall through the system, trapping debris underneath the system while keeping the top surface clean and cutting down on contaminants that are tracked throughout the building. These systems partner well with many types of conditions, depths and flooring products such as pre-existing carpet and tiled surfaces. Employing an entrance flooring system in a recessed application allows for a smooth transition from one top surface to another and are also available for surface mounted applications, using specific ADA-compliant frame options, for those entrances that have existing VCT or terrazzo.

Entrance flooring systems combine design and functionality with an array of insert and logo options. Though most models are designed to withstand a great deal of weight, be sure the demands are reflected in the rolling load capacity for the chosen entrance flooring system. If not, breakage can occur, leaving the facility liable. Rolling load testing is the best way to ensure your real-time environment will stand up to excessive rolling loads from wheel chairs, electric carts, various deliveries and maintenance equipment.

Providing an effective, permanent entrance flooring system in your new facility or existing project will go a long way in maintaining and preserving other flooring materials further inside the building. It will require an investment, but the benefits will pay big dividends.

 

Renee Hite is owner/development manager for Construction Specialties. She has 30 years experience in the customer service and management field with a strong track record of providing innovative, long-term solutions for property owners, facility managers, architects and contractors. She may be reached rhite@c-sgroup.com or 800.233.8493.

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INSTALL supports professional development through CIM Program Scholarship

Install logoGlassboro, N.J.—INSTALL, in support of FCICA, has launched the 2016 INSTALL Certified Installation Manager (CIM) Program Scholarship and is now accepting applications.

Now in its second year and developed to support installation managers’ continuing training and professional development, the scholarship will benefit one deserving candidate. The $1,150 scholarship provides the opportunity for a floorcovering professional to enroll in and successfully complete the CIM training.

The deadline to submit an application is Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Click here to submit your application. Winners will be announced on Dec. 14, 2016.

cimCriteria for scholarship program applicants include:

  • Employer needs to be an INSTALL contractor
  • Membership status and INSTALL certifications held by the applicant
  • Reason for requesting the training

Judges for the scholarship program include John McGrath, director of INSTALL; Tom Lutz, INSTALL Michigan; and Kelly Fuller, FCICA.

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Installments: The benefits of joining an industry association

October 10/17, 2016: Volume 31, Number 9

By Sarah Bays

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-11-22-25-amIn 2010, the IRS recognized 92,331 trade and professional associations and 1,280,739 charitable and philanthropic organizations. With so many active associations within the U.S. alone, it is not surprising that you may have recently been solicited to join an association that aligns with your profession, trade or outside interest.

Associations offer a wide range of benefits for both individuals and companies providing an avenue for professional growth and brand recognition. Here are seven benefits that professional associations provide:

  1. Information exchange. Associations offer members the opportunity to raise their level of awareness and gain valuable knowledge from other’s experiences. As a member you have access to valuable information. Whether it is the newest trend, a cutting-edge product/service or a tried-and-true practice, this shared information is an invaluable resource.
  2. Access to certification programs. Many associations provide industry-specific certification to help you separate yourself from your competitors. By becoming certified in your field of expertise and continuing your education year after year you show your employer and customers you have met standards established by a reputable program. It also shows you are committed to quality work and growing your expertise.
  3. Network for problem solving. Having access to a network of trusted peers is important. As a business, it is essential to align yourself with like-minded professionals who can share tips of the trade or work/life experiences.
  4. Educational and training opportunities. One of the best resources an association can provide is a venue for education and training for its members. “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest,” said Benjamin Franklin. Having access to educational programs also lends itself to retaining and attracting employees because it shows you are willing to invest in their professional growth.
  5. Strengthen your competitive advantage. Take advantage of member resources including educational and networking opportunities to build a greater understanding of customer needs, gain referrals and brand recognition. By investing in an association you are investing in your company and this sets you above non-member competitors.
  6. Boost your network. When you join an association, you instantly gain a network of business associates that have similar goals and accomplishments. However, it is important to be an active member as this will significantly increase membership benefits. To that end, be sure to attend conferences and participate in industry events or join various committees within the association to get the most value.
  7. Gain elevated recognition and visibility within your industry. Associations exist to promote their members and the livelihood of the represented trade, profession or group interest. Assimilating with an association lends credibility to employees and the company, and contributes to your competitive edge over non-members.

FCICAlogo -1Associations pride themselves on the ability to bring like-minded individuals together for the greater good. By aligning yourself and company with a reputable organization, you are not only contributing your expertise but you are also gaining valuable connections, access to resources and the experience of your peers.