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Walker leaves CFI, Varden tapped CEO

Walker_JimJim Walker, a 50-year flooring veteran whose name has become synonymous with installation, has left the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), where he served as CEO since its founding more than 22 years ago.

The CFI board has named Robert Varden its new CEO. Varden was promoted to executive director of CFI in 2012 and has more than 30 years of installation experience.

Walker, who was elected to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) Hall of Fame in 2005 as the first installer to be recognized, said he is not retiring. “I am just not with CFI,” he told FCNews. “The board wanted to go in another direction. I am not giving up my membership to CFI. I will help them in any way I can. I am about helping installers. It is a hard fight but I am going to continue to do it.”

Scott Humphrey, CEO of WFCA, whose group has worked closely with CFI on installation training and workshops, called Walker “a living example of what is possible with great effort and noble intentions.”

Humphrey told FCNews, “Jim has worked tirelessly to address an issue that is, according to most data, the most pressing issue in the flooring industry today. Jim was told when he began that it could never work, but he didn’t embrace the effort because it was easy. He embraced it because it was the right thing to do. Just imagine what would be possible in this industry if we all approached our jobs with that mentality. I am thankful for the years of dedication that Jim has offered the industry and the legacy he has created.”

Bill Dearing, president of the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA), which has partnered with CFI, said, “To me, Jim Walker represents the finest in trade education and equally important is his willingness to share experiences with others in our industry. Jim’s expertise is totally unwavering in support of professional installation for every style of floor covering. His contributions to me personally and NALFA are significant.”

Michael Martin, president and CEO of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), added, “Jim’s passion for installation training is well-known throughout the industry. We’re honored that he views CFI’s training for wood flooring as an entry level into NWFA’s training and look forward to continuing to grow that partnership under Robert’s leadership.”

During Walker’s tenure with the CFI, more than 50,000 installers have completed CFI’s educational training programs worldwide. CFI has chapters and schools in Australia, Japan, Chile, Brazil and South Africa.

In a statement released by the CFI, Walker said, “As CFI enters a new era, it is important to not only thank the members for their support, but also the numerous manufacturers who have always willingly donated products and tools for training, the dealers who proudly display a CFI installer’s credentials in their showr

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ooms to promote pride and customer satisfaction, and the numerous friends who were there at the beginning for encouragement and support, many who are members still today.”

Varden said the organization is grateful for the “numerous heartfelt contributions” from Walker and his wife Jane, who served as CFI’s public relations specialist. “Their profound commitment to the advancement of the professional flooring installer and desire to improve the industry has been remarkable. We wish them well going forward.”

According to Varden, CFI is working with industry organizations and manufacturers to build a training school outside of Dallas. It is also actively recruiting new candidates to the industry. “We are looking at various ways to recruit people even if they have never worked with installation tools.” Potential recruiting pools include veterans groups and community colleges as CFI looks to unearth the next generation of talent to an aging trade.

“We did a survey and found that [more than] 60% of installers have been on the floor for over 15 years and some have 20 years or more,” he added. “It didn’t take long to do the math and say, ‘Wow, we have to do something.’ I believe in the last year and a half there is a sense of urgency unlike anything we have seen. I think the industry is at a point to support this installation initiative.”

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Nebraska-Iowa Floor Covering Association takes part in CFI–WFCA training event

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 1.33.45 PMOmaha, Neb.–The Nebraska-Iowa Floor Covering Association hosted the CFI–WFCA carpet, laminate and wood training and certification here last month.

Kevin Johnson, owner of Creative Carpet Designs and president of the association, was instrumental in the preparation of the event. Doris Miller, the executive director began the event planning many months ago with the members.

Tom Jennings, vice president of WFCA Member Services, said, “We all realize that these events do not happen without key people wanting this in their areas. Please know that a number of installers are better off today because the Nebraska-Iowa Floor Covering Association had the passion to help show them a better way.” Jennings’ presentation focused on how to better serve the customer and increase business.

The group of 22 installers received training in the CFI programs of carpet, laminate and wood. “This was a great group of installers who wanted to learn more about their trade,” said Efren Llamas, instructor for the hard surface class. “We enjoyed working with them.”

Both classes are two-days of hands-on training using industry standards to bring the latest techniques and requirements to the classes. CFI ships large crates of tools and supplies to ensure the installers use the recommended tools and supplies. The association donated the flooring materials and provided lunch each day.

Jim Walker, CFI CEO and instructor said, “We appreciate the support of the WFCA for the dealer scholarship funds which provided an opportunity for many to attend. With this type of backing, there is no reason that an installer should ever miss a training event. Those who do not keep up their education are fooling themselves. Tools change, methods change, products change and to provide the finest customer service, installers and dealers must understand this to always be up to date in their field.”

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FIANA, CFI collaborate on convention

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 4.57.56 PMNew Orleans — FIANA and CFI have teamed up to give members double benefits by scheduling their conventions at the same time in New Orleans, Sept. 4-6, 2014.

FIANA events are scheduled at the Hyatt Regency while CFI will hold their meeting at the Holiday Inn Downtown Superdome.

“The FIANA members look forward to welcoming the CFI group. The manufacturers and distributors view it as a mutual assistance and a unique twist,” said Doug Ray, president of FIANA.

FIANA’s welcome reception is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 4 evening with the general membership meeting starting at 9:00 am, Sept. 5. The 20th annual trade show is scheduled for distributors and manufacturers from 1:00-6:00 pm.

“The CFI members will have an opportunity to visit the manufacturers’ trade show to view new products and tools which is always on the top of every installer’s list. CFI has a long standing relationship with FIANA and appreciates being a part of their event,” said Jim Walker, CEO of CFI.

The CFI Certification Team will meet on Thursday the 4th to review the year’s events and plan for the future. Friday begins with the opening session of the 21st annual CFI Convention at 7:30 am followed by seminars and hands-on workshops. On Saturday, the members will visit the FIANA trade show and conclude the CFI Convention with a dinner meeting.

Robert Varden, executive director of CFI, “We appreciate the distributors allowing our members to attend the trade show. It will benefit all of us in our various positions in the industry by learning more about products and tools. This partnership brings a new view to the CFI Convention which our members will greatly enjoy.”

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Judge’s panel chosen for Schönox ‘worst subfloor’ contest

America Contest-2Florence, Ala. — Earlier this month HPS Schönox kicked off a Contest asking the question, Is your company working on a project that has what might be the worst subfloor in North America?  Today, the company announced who will judge the responses to that question.  Schönox put together the Worst Subfloor in North America Contest to shine a light on tough subfloor conditions, detail the best ways to renovate them, and provide some recognition and publicity for the companies who handle these challenging projects.  John McGrath (director, INSTALL), Lew Migliore (president, LGM and Associates Technical Flooring Services) and Jim Walker (CEO, International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association/CFI) will judge the contest after the entry end date of Dec. 15.

“I was delighted to sign on to judge the Worst Subfloor in North America Contest,” McGrath said.  “Any event designed to showcase the expertise of professional flooring companies and the challenges they face in the field is of special significance for me.”  The contest entries will be independently judged with first, second, and third place winners being awarded Schönox products based on the severity of the original subfloor’s condition, the skill and attention to detail taken in executing the project, and the quality of the finished subfloor.

“Installation companies and contractors face a wide range of subfloor challenges on a daily basis in the field,” Migliore said. “I’ve seen so many of those subfloor issues and see new ones each day; the Schönox Contest will likely show us even more.”  Those entering the contest are asked to photograph the subfloor conditions before and after the subfloor renovation project and submit the photos, along with some project information, at where contest details can be found. Winners will be announced at Surfaces in 2015.


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WFCA installation training seminars draw attendees despite weather delays

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 10.52.22 AMAnaheim, Calif. — Despite extreme weather conditions that led to significant flight delays along the East Coast, installers were determined to attend the most recent WFCA sponsored training workshop in Baltimore. For the first time in the training series, instruction on four different flooring surfaces was offered over the course of the weeklong program. Previous workshops only offered training in one or two surfaces.

“The breadth and depth of our CFI led courses is second to none,” said Tom Jennings, vice president member services, WFCA. “This event and our upcoming events provide an excellent opportunity to enhance skills not just for installers but also for estimators, service managers, first respondents to consumer claims and those actively involved in managing installation.”

“WFCA has done something never before accomplished in this industry by bringing together the opportunity for installation training and certification at an affordable cost for their dealers and installer members,” said Jim Walker, CEO of the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI.)

Additional upcoming 2014 installation workshops include:

April 8-11   Doraville, Ga.

May 13-16  Seattle (Hosted by the Northwest Flooring Association at Great Floors)

June 3-6     Pomona, Calif. (Hosted by TRAXX Corp.)

WFCA members receive a $200 discount for each installer that participates. In addition, if funds are available and requested at least 30 days prior to the event, WFCA will pay 50% of the registration fee up to $500. Applications are available online at or by contacting the CFI National Office at (816) 231.4646. CFI staff will assist with the WFCA registration requirements.  Interested parties can also visit for more details or call WFCA at (800) 624.6880.  

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WFCA/CFI installation training kick-off a success

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 9.29.21 AMAnaheim, Calif. – The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) announced that the 2014 kick-off of the CFI-led on-site installation training initiaitve was a huge success. Sixty-two installers and associates from  across the country including Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin attended the week-long inaugural program, which took place in Chicago beginning Jan. 14.

Workshop participants received hands-on training and certification in carpet, ceramic, resilient, laminate and wood flooring installation. The initiative also provided training in installation sales and inspection.  All sessions were led by Certified Floorcovering Installers Association instructors and overseen by Jim Walker, CEO, CFI. Tom Jennings, WFCA vice president, Member Services, also provided instruction on client service and customer relations.

At the conclusion of the training, installers who successfully completed the coursework received entry-level CFI certification in the surfaces for which they registered, as well as a CFI identification badge, a completion certificate, and a listing on the CFI website.

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ProSource CFI training does it again

Kansas City, Mo. — ProSource of Elk Grove Village, IL hosted a CFI laminate and wood training and a carpet training workshop recently. “The CFI events are always well attended. They add to our flooring installer recommendation base to service clientele who expect professional flooring installation. CFI training and certification give us a method whereby we know the qualifications of those who represent ProSource. Installers attended from Illinois, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida, as well as neighboring communities,” said Jeff Bernstein, Regional Sales Manager for ProSource. Continue reading ProSource CFI training does it again

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CFI on course for record-breaking year in training

Resilient certification garners industry-wide support

Kansas City, Mo.—Flooring installation training is on track to break records in 2012, according to Jim Walker, CEO of the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI). Continue reading CFI on course for record-breaking year in training

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ProSource of Chicago hosted Installer Day, CFI and CTEF

Kansas City, Mont. — Jeff Bernstein, regional sales manager for ProSource of Elk Grove Village, Ill., and ProSource of Naperville, Ill., hosted two consecutive events of the company’s Installer Appreciation Day on January 4-5, 2012. Attended by over 200 people, the theme of installer certification was visible throughout. Continue reading ProSource of Chicago hosted Installer Day, CFI and CTEF