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INSTALL, Roppe partner at NeoCon 2018

Glassboro, N.J.— At NeoCon 2018, INSTALL and Roppe will emphasize the value of certified installation through live, daily flooring demonstrations. As the largest commercial interiors show in North America, NeoCon 2018 will be held at Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart from June 11-13. The INSTALL and Roppe demonstrations will be located on the 7th floor at the Interiors + SourcesMaterials Pavilion # 7-1000.

This series of dynamic demonstrations will occur throughout the day June 11-12. Through INSTALL’s floor covering expertise, a fashion-forward design using Roppe rubber sheet and tile products will be brought to life. INSTALL and Roppe will showcase new and innovative installation techniques with Roppe’s newest products:

  • Envire Rubber Sheet & Tile: designed for a natural resilience, exceptional wear resistance and dimensional stability for high-traffic areas.
  • FlashCove Prefabricated Base: puncture-proof reinforced base for the longest life-cycle and easiest maintenance for sheet flooring installations.

INSTALL standards and expertise incorporate the knowledge and backing of the entire flooring industry, including Roppe. “INSTALL’s mission is to train and educate for the purpose of quality flooring installations,” said John McGrath, INSTALL executive director. “This collaboration allows us to highlight the need for both quality products and installation to ensure successful commercial flooring projects.”

Designers take great care to choose the right products and systems for clients. However, no matter how discerning the specifier and regardless of product selection, if the design is installed incorrectly, the customer will suffer. The product will not perform the way the designer intends and dismantling and replacing the installation is expensive, time consuming and can tarnish the image of everyone involved.

“Working alongside INSTALL to provide a quality flooring experience from start to finish has proven to be invaluable,” explained Brent Fike, RHC general manager of technical and installation. “INSTALL continues to be an important resource for us as we strive to partner with educated, skilled installers to deliver outstanding end results.”

 

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Al's column: The upside to polished concrete

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By John McGrath

From a design perspective, the look of polished concrete floors and open ceilings is a highly desirable, contemporary aesthetic for commercial spaces. As a major trend sweeping across retail, industrial and other markets, architects and designers are finding polished concrete has significant environmental, safety, sustainability and maintenance benefits as well.

From helping to earn U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED credits to providing performance benefits, polished concrete is fast becoming an attractive alternative to carpet, VCT and vinyl flooring. While new flooring options like LVT have seen explosive sales growth, this seemingly simple alternative to traditional floor covering products has slowly but surely cemented its place in the industry due to a specific combination of attributes.

As a result, numerous large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Albertsons and Safeway have moved to polished concrete as the standard flooring material for both their new and existing stores. The same rings true for smaller boutique stores, office buildings, institutional facilities and more. From an aesthetic standpoint, polished concrete offers a modern and sophisticated look. A number of stains, colors and topping materials can be added to the floor, along with inset logos and etching. The result is an installation with a varied, natural look that is highly light reflective, slip resistant and visually impactful.

The thermal properties of concrete also help reduce heating and cooling loads for buildings. This translates to significant energy savings when spread across hundreds of thousands of square feet in warehouse stores and large commercial spaces. It’s a plus for large chains and companies like Amazon that operate massive fulfillment centers.

Since concrete is already used as a subfloor in most new buildings, polishing it cuts back on material usage and waste. This adds to LEED credits as there are no additional flooring manufacturing enlarging our carbon footprint. Similarly, since polished concrete is reflective, it helps architects and designers earn electric credits. And because there is limited maintenance and no replacement materials, polished concrete flooring also lessens water use and construction waste.

Altogether, polished concrete flooring can contribute to nearly 40 different LEED point categories. These include points for materials and reuse, indoor environmental air quality along with energy and atmosphere.

Beyond achieving LEED points, the other reason facility managers, interior architects and designers are gravitating toward polished concrete is maintenance and cost-savings. “Whether you are installing VCT, carpet, hardwood or laminate, it’s going to be expensive to maintain over time and replacement is inevitable,” said INSTALL instructor Dave Gross, Northeast Floorlayers, Local 251. “Polished concrete requires virtually no maintenance and when the surface begins to dull it only requires a quick buffing to restore it.”

When installed correctly, according to Tod Sandy, coordinator of the Detroit Carpentry Apprentice School, polished concrete is easy to maintain, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. “As a result, more end users are requesting it.”

With an increased focus on training and new advances in product and installation technology, polished concrete flooring will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.

John McGrath is the director of INSTALL, a group dedicated to industry-leading training for professional installers and flooring contractors.

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Install to open new Texas training center

Glassboro, N.J.—Install is preparing to host the grand opening of its new Texas Carpenters and Millwrights Training Center in Pasadena, Texas. From safety and technical skills to communication and leadership skills, instructors will train professional carpenters and millwrights to be productive, safe and demonstrate leadership on the job site.

Due to significant growth in the Houston metropolitan region, the training center recently moved to the new 52,000 square-foot facility in the nearby suburb of Pasadena. With six full-time instructors, eight classrooms and significantly more space for hands-on learning opportunities, the center will be home to 485 apprentices.

The training available includes curriculum from Install, the International Standards and Training Alliance. As the floor covering industry’s most endorsed and specified training program, the organization leverages long-standing manufacturer partnerships to bring together in-depth product expertise.

“With the opening of this state-of-the art training center, the Central South Carpenters Regional Council (CSCRC) intends to provide the flooring industry throughout the gulf coast region with skilled, qualified, floor covering professionals,” said Craig Wright, chief of staff, CSCRC. “This venture will only be possible through collaborative partnerships with Install contractors.”

Industry professionals, media and other interested individuals are invited to join Install April 3, from 5-8 p.m. to celebrate. Festivities will include live floor covering, carpenter and millwright demonstrations, a dedication ceremony, VIPs, food, special surprises and more.

For more information and to RSVP visit: ubctexastraining.com/GrandOpening.

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Installation: Flooring dealers grapple with tight labor market

February 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 18

By Ken Ryan

 

A strengthening economy coupled with an increasingly tight labor market—with unemployment at 4.1% nationally—has exacerbated the installation crisis for many dealers, observers say. The issue has forced some to turn work away because of a scarcity of crews, while others are having to pay substandard mechanics more just to retain them.

While flooring dealers say business is still up in 2018, they believe the installation challenge is stunting this growth. “Our business is being affected in three ways,” John Taylor, president of Taylor Carpet One, Fort Myers, Fla., told FCNews. “First, the shortage of labor is affecting our growth. Second, because of the shortage, our labor prices are going up because [installers] know there is a shortage. Lastly, the quality of the installers out there has gone down drastically, and the workmanship is not where it should be. This will continue unless we all somehow pull together and figure out a way to recruit and train people for our trade. Not everyone is meant for college and there is a great opportunity installing if it is done the right way.”

Such a tough labor market makes finding skilled workers more difficult in sectors like flooring installation. As such, some dealers are forced to pass on certain jobs, unable to fulfill their customers’ needs. In other cases, wages appear to be rising even for mediocre installers. “Unfortunately, I only see this problem getting worse as our labor force is aging—unless we can get the next generation interested in the trades,” said Josh Elder, owner of Gainesville CarpetsPlus Color Tile, Florida.

For Carlton Billingsley, owner of Floors and More, Benton, Ark., the labor market is challenging his business to be more strategic, particularly on the commercial side as he picks and chooses which partners to work with. However, as the backlog grows, his business suffers. Rather than bemoan his situation, Billingsley has a solution he believes will pay off. “We are creatively working with other skilled/non-skilled laborers to learn flooring skills to grow with our business. We continue to invest in training at manufacturer facilities, our facility and in our regional area, too, to diversify the mechanics’ skill set so they can do different types of flooring. This way we can accelerate our growth together.”

Due to the shortage of qualified installers, Tim Schoolfield, owner of CountrySide Flooring America, O’Fallon, Mo., said he is “less confident” these days in spite of an improving economy. “I am less confident we can get flooring installed in a timely fashion or in the ability of new hires to exceed the expectations of an increasingly demanding customer,” he explained.

That sentiment was shared by other flooring dealers such as Cathy Buchanan, owner of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich. “It is an uneasy feeling to sell high-quality woven products, hardwood, LVT, laminate, etc., not knowing if you’re going to overwhelm your existing installation crews,” she said. “And then once their knees give way—who do you have? Having a back-up plan just isn’t the case today. No offense to millennials, they just aren’t driven to the challenge of such a difficult job. And when talking about the sales floor, office/support staff, [they] seem to get bored quickly and look for a better position.”

What’s regrettable, Buchanan added, is the flooring retail industry should be primed for growth. “There is so much opportunity in our field of retail—not so much with the shopping centers—because Amazon can’t quite get the touchy-feely experience of buying carpet. People have an opportunity to make a lot of money selling and even more so by installing, and also taking pride in the field of installation. It’s a scary thought.”

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Laticrete Supercap offers solution to OSHA silica dust regulation

Pouring ECUBethany, Conn.—Independent third-party testing has confirmed that Laticrete Supercap can help contractors and installers comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new workplace standards that reduces the allowable amount of exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust in construction projects.

Fuss & O’Neill, an independent industrial hygiene consultant, conducted the testing at a Boston University construction project. The consultant concluded an installation of Supercap SC500 through the patented Supercap System contributed no respirable silica dust on the jobsite or surrounding areas. Additionally, Supercap SC500 produced no foreseeable exposure to any of the workers involved in the process, thus ensuring compliance with OSHA’s new silica dust regulations.

“For contractors and installers seeking an immediate option for complying with the newly-enforced regulations, the Laticrete Supercap System increases jobsite and worker safety along with its proven time and cost savings,” said Douglas Matchick, Laticrete Supercap president. “It’s an innovative solution for their commercial projects.”

All Laticrete Supercap self-leveling underlayments are pumped into a building using a mobile blending truck, eliminating any dry material from entering the interior of the jobsite and the need for workers to haul and manually open hundreds of individual bags and pumping equipment. Additionally, Supercap now offers self-leveling underlayment ready-mix delivery service, a turnkey service that saves significant costs associated with purchasing, operating and maintaining one’s own pump truck.

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INSTALL sees continued growth in Southern U.S.

install_logo_2color_pathsGlassboro, N.J.—INSTALL has recently set a goal of establishing at least six new Southern INSTALL contractors in 2018. Southern expansion has been a key initiative for the organization since 2016.

As INSTALL continues to increase its presence in key markets across the country, it will maintain its focus on council-to-council and contractor support. This relationship provides contractors with the opportunity to enter viable construction markets and establish new offices, allowing for additional revenue streams. It is also an opportunity to bring additional training and certification to the Southern labor pool.

“INSTALL is able to leverage long-standing manufacturer partnerships to bring together field know-how and in-depth product expertise,” said John McGrath, executive director at INSTALL. “For newer markets like Texas, this means contractors will now have access to trained and certified journeymen and will be able to train the next generation of expert installers.”

Expanding into Southern states required significant support from a variety of industry players, including local United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) councils, contractors, manufacturers and individual installers. The expansion into the Texas market was spearheaded by a joint partnership with St. Louis – Kansas City Regional Council of Carpenters, Central South Carpenters Regional Council and Image Flooring, INSTALL warranty contractor.

Kansas City-based Image Flooring wanted to create a presence and workforce in Texas. The company already had a large presence throughout the Central U.S., but without certified installers in Texas it was unable to tap into the thriving construction market.

“Image Flooring and INSTALL approached us to hold training sessions and open houses at several training centers,” said Jason Engels, executive secretary treasurer of the Central South Carpenters Regional Council. “Thanks to their unique relationship with the St. Louis – Kansas City Regional Council of Carpenters, they were able to bring INSTALL certified instructors to Texas.”

Engels added, “It’s been a true partnership with Image Flooring and INSTALL. Building a new workforce in a new state has been a monumental task. You need to provide a trained and skilled workforce to help create market share, and that’s exactly what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

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INSTALL announces Canadian National Apprenticeship Competition winner

IMG_20170826_2200421Glassboro, N.J.—The best floor covering apprentices in Canada recently convened in historic Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, for a unique installation competition. Marking its 25th anniversary, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) National Apprenticeship Competition (NAC) attracted dozens of participants to the port city, where they took part in two days of installation competitions and events.

Apprentice Mike McLaughlin, Local 27 Ontario, was named the winner of the flooring installation competition, showcasing his expertise.

Held from Aug. 25-26, the 2017 NAC was hosted by: Atlantic Canada Regional Council of Carpenters, Millwrights and Allied Workers, Carpenter Millwright Colleges and Trust Funds of Atlantic Canada and INSTALL.

“INSTALL’s mission is to train and educate for the purpose of quality flooring installations throughout North America,” said John McGrath, INSTALL executive director. “By supporting this important Canadian event we are able to expand our profile in the country and show prospective floorcovering installers and contractors that INSTALL is committed to building their future.”

Len Bryden, executive director of training and programs for the Atlantic Canada Regional Council of Carpenters, Millwrights and Allied Workers, was pleased to see the continued relationship between the NAC and INSTALL. “The NAC has promoted apprenticeships and highlighted UBC for contractors and installers throughout Canada. The event brings together people from across Canada and allows them to meet, network, share successes and failures, and showcase their talent. It creates a stronger industry and shows off the programs that put us at the forefront in training.”

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Adhesives: Double-stick applications prove their staying power

August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Ken Ryan

 

There’s an old proverb that states: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same holds true for flooring installation. For a job to stand the test of time there cannot be any weak areas. One way to ensure a lasting installation, experts say, is through the proper adhesive—better yet, a double-stick application.

“Utilizing premium-grade adhesives and underlayments will help ensure no callbacks and ensure a durable multi-layer foundation designed for optimal performance with longevity,” said David Jackson, field technical services manager for DriTac Flooring Products.

Double-stick adhesives are commonly used in hardwood and LVT/LVP flooring installations in many large-scale, high-rise and multi-family projects and have been the time-tested method of choice in the installation community when superior sound control results are required.

Following are some of the newest double-stick application products impacting the market.

Ardex
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 4.28.58 PMAccording to Ardex executives, double-stick application adhesives are critical for the installation of tile and stone as tiles are increasing in size, weight and density. Choosing the proper adhesive for securing tile or stones to a substrate can result in a successful or failed installation. (The cost of failures, experts say, might far outweigh the price of a proper adhesive.) To that end, Ardex’s tile and stone installation systems are designed to offer a total system solution for installing super-format tiles, backed by a comprehensive single source warranty that is uncommon within the tile and stone industry. Ardex describes its S 28 as an innovative “high-performance, rapid drying and rapid hardening, microfiber-reinforced, polymer-modified tile and stone mortar for interior installations.” S 28 is highly flexible with virtually no shrinkage and an extended open time, making it ideal for large and super format tile and stone installations.

Schönox
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 4.26.56 PMSchönox Emiclassic, a universal, pressure-sensitive acrylic adhesive, is suitable for bonding all type of vinyl, carpet, linoleum and synthetic rubber coverings as well as impact sound insulation underlayments on porous and non-porous substrates. Emiclassic has very low emissions is free of solvents and emits very little odor. It conforms to MED 96/98/EC, contributes to LEED certification projects and includes Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) certification.

Schönox TS is an underlay made from cork granules and urethane, which improves both sound and heat insulation while creating more comfortable living spaces. “It can be installed under resilient floor coverings such as vinyl, cushioned vinyl, carpet or wood flooring as well as installed on wood substrates such as plywood and bonded floor coverings such as vinyl, wood flooring or ceramic tile,” said Michael Mayer, business development, for Schönox. TS also contributes to LEED certification, he added.

DriTac
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 4.29.09 PMDriTac has unveiled two new underlayment systems—DriTac 8302 Double Impact for wood and laminate floor installations, and DriTac 8301 Impact for resilient floor installations. Both low-VOC products provide enhanced acoustical abatement properties and provide a total sound-reduction system with dual force, silent fuse technology when used with approved DriTac flooring adhesives. Available for the first time in the market, DriTac’s SRS also offers moisture control properties, less risk and a lifetime warranty, the company stated.

Other products include DriTac 5900 MegaBond and 7900 Super Grab. MegaBond is a premium-grade resilient flooring adhesive specially formulated to help minimize vinyl plank shrinkage. It is a high moisture-resistant adhesive that provides maximum bond strength for a wide array of flooring types. Super Grab is a premium grade, moisture-cured urethane adhesive developed for installing long-length/ wide-width plank hardwood flooring.

W.F. Taylor
Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 4.26.47 PMAgile (2100) is a fast-tacking, solvent-free, premium adhesive for the interior installation of both direct glue-down and double-stick carpet installations. This adhesive has been specially designed to provide quick grab with fast wet suctions and holding power for bonding the most challenging carpet backing installs. Additional features include greater flexibility for large installations, high strength/water resistant bond and an environmentally conscious formula.

A second product in the 2100 series is Delta Force, a fast-grab premium carpet adhesive for the interior installation of both direct glue-down and double-stick carpet installations. Delta Force comes with a 10-year performance warranty.

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Installments: Uses and applications of profiled wall base

August 14/21: Volume 32, Issue 5

By Mike Pigeon

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 4.04.14 PMThe flooring industry over the last few years has seen a large demand for a wider variety of wall base options in certain marketplaces. With the growing selection of resilient, carpet, wood and tile offerings, architects and designers are requiring a more appealing finish to a completed flooring installation. The institutionalized look of the standard 4-inch rubber or vinyl base was just not cutting it. So what did the flooring industry do? We acknowledged and embraced the challenge with the introduction of profiled bases.

Now this is not a new product category by any means as it has been available for some years now. However, the popularity of wall base is increasing exponentially, especially in healthcare, hospitality, senior living and corporate buildings. The wide variety of profiles adds a special touch and finish to complete and even accent the floors. Advancement in manufacturing technology opened the door for the production of some really unique interior finishes, including unique options to transition from the floors to the walls.

One of the best places to see this trend is in the hotel industry, where taller bases with creative profiles options are being paired to match popular wood looks. With wood being susceptible to denting and scratching, the need for repainting has really changed the mindset of the A&D community when it comes to a more resilient option. Most of these products are made in the U.S.A. and meet FloorScore, NSF 332 Gold and CHPS criteria. Some manufacturers have options for PVC-free, Phthalate-free and even Red list chemical-free products to increase the appeal to the design community.

The options for profiles are numerous. Some just need a simple profile at 3 inches, whereas the more elaborate designs can be as high as 8 inches. I’ve seen even higher profiles at hotels in Las Vegas that look like they were closer to the 10-inch mark with a very attractive profiled face. Some options will even come with a matching color chair rail and corner guards for protection from the service carts. Again, most of these products are co-extruded.

Some of the other benefits of purchasing profiled bases through flooring manufactures are the color options. The wide variety of color palettes is a huge benefit when looking for accent colors to match the flooring product. The options normally include the ability for a custom color to match other interior finishes if needed. Send in a paint chip or a piece of fabric and suppliers can often make it work. The options truly are endless.

Coming from an installation background, I want to address a few items on this topic that are very important, especially after the material has been specified and is ready to install.

Installation is not for the average base installer. The mindset of the technician needs to be more of a finish carpenter’s frame of mind. Production is going to be slower than with regular base, although it does pick up as the installation proceeds. In addition, tools and equipment are going to be completely different. All of this needs to be discussed before the installers are sent to the jobsite. A conversation with the general contractor ahead of time to set expectations for wall conditions usually saves hassles in the long run. The more proactive the installer and flooring contractor are on the front side, the better the installation ends up on the back side. Punch lists and callbacks always affect the bottom line along with reputations.

 

Mike Pigeon, CIM, is a technical installation specialist with Roppe Holding Co. He has extensive background in flooring installation and currently serves on the Certified Installation Manager Task Force.

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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.