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FCICA and NAFCT sign partnership agreement

FCICAlogo -1West Bloomfield, Mich.—FCICA, the Flooring Contractors Association, and NAFCT, the National Academy of Floor Covering Training, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations.

In this understanding, the two organizations will cooperate and coordinate efforts between them. This includes ensuring that members of each group are aware of the mission and activities of each other; exchanging website links; NAFCT will encourage qualified FCICA members as instructors for NAFCT schools and courses; NAFCT will recommend FCICA education sessions and webinars as continuing education and NAFCT will explore sessions in conjunction to FCICA’s convention.

“FCICA is excited to be partnering with the NAFCT,” said Kim Oderkirk, executive vice president. “Through sharing resources, we will increase the availability of trainings and better the education of flooring professionals.”

Paul Pleshek, president of NAFCT, said, “this partnership will enhance the training available for floor covering professionals and those interested in joining the field. NAFCT looks forward to participating in educational events with FCICA and contributing to FCICA committees.”

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Women in Flooring: Kim Oderkirk – An unexpected path leads to FCICA leadership

August 4/11, 2014; Volume 28/Number 4

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.25.16 AMWith a history in helping lead unions and associations, Kim Oderkirk seemed to naturally progress into her position as executive vice president of the Flooring Contractors Association, commonly known as FCICA. Since officially joining the group in 1999, she has made a name for herself as the only woman among the organization’s top figures.

After graduating with a B.A. in Communication Arts and Science—with a major in advertising—from Michigan State University, Oderkirk started working at an advertising company but was soon approached by her father, who worked at a construction company at the time, about an open position. “The purchasing agent at [the company] needed an assistant,” she recalled. “That’s how I got into construction.”

With diverse experience in construction, working with companies representing electrical, mechanical, roofing and masonry—some union and some non-union—she also represented some of those contractors with the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) and learned about trade associations. While working her part-time job with a masonry company, she became the executive director of her local chapter of the ASA.

“That’s how I got into association management,” Oderkirk said. “Both the company and associations wanted me to work full time, so I left the mason, started my own company, Association Services, and ASA became a client.”

After years of working with ASA, Oderkirk was hired by a local wall and ceiling group—the Detroit chapter of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI)—that had union contracts with the carpenters’ union. “With my union contractor background representing management, I actually sat in on union negotiations and, at the time, in the early 1990s, I was the only female at the table,” she said. “They would get all upset and start swearing and then look at me and realize there was a woman in the room and that would frustrate them more. It was a learning curve for me.” From there, Oderkirk became heavily involved with the national AWCI group, which is what ultimately brought her to FCICA.

“At this time the local flooring association wanted a vote on the carpenters’ funds, so they asked me to run their association. Instead, I got the local groups to merge, becoming wall, ceiling and flooring. Because I was so involved with AWCI, I looked for a similar group for flooring knowledge and that’s how I found FCICA.

“The local group sent me to [the FCICA] meeting in Orlando in the spring of 1999. FCICA was looking for someone to run the group, and I happened to sit at a table with the incoming executive board, including David Meberg, who was the incoming chairman. They found out I was a company, not an employee, and asked me to bid their executive position.”

While Oderkirk was interested, she let FCICA know she would take the position on her terms—which meant not moving her family to Dalton. “I told them I had an office in my house, with a conference room and additional offices. So they came out and met with me, and I signed on July 1, 1999. My husband and I went to Dalton for the weekend and everything was moved to Michigan in a U-Haul.”

Oderkirk’s moves that led her to FCICA do seem like a well-modeled plan, but it was simply a natural progression based on her development and skills, she said. “It was all word of mouth just by track record. I was with the wall, ceiling and flooring group locally for 10 years. FCICA had so much potential that I was willing to expand my company’s scope.

“I wasn’t looking for it; I didn’t go to school for it,” she continued. “At MSU, I chose the business side of advertising, not the creative side. With that, and learning about different construction companies over the years, as well as knowing all the facets of the field, going into management for construction was a perfect fit for me.”

The management of various aspects of FCICA, along with multitasking and overseeing group operations, is a role that works well for a lot of women, Oderkirk noted. Her ability to handle so much at once has helped FCICA become the organization it is today.

“I think overly organized people are really good in this kind of situation,” she said. “There are a lot of people who can do this, but not everyone is as detail-oriented. That’s why FCICA is getting so successfulScreen Shot 2014-08-13 at 5.21.52 PM now.”

It comes as no surprise that some women find it daunting to be one of the few females in a male-dominated industry. But, according to Oderkirk, that divide can be a good thing. “Sometimes a lot of women together can be difficult. I like dealing with men. If you are good at what you do, you will earn the respect you’re looking for.”

Despite the belief that being a woman has only helped Oderkirk’s career flourish, it has presented some challenges along the way. One is the assumption that a man is in charge, whether a woman is present or not. “I did Surfaces for FCICA for 11 years. My husband, Jim, is also part of the staff—he works for me. Often at trade shows, people will talk to him first. He laughs and says, ‘You need to talk to her. She’s the boss.’ Because [the field] is so male-dominated, it’s natural that if [a woman] is with a man, others will look to him first.

“I think that challenge is still there. Even on site visits they look to Jim first if they don’t know who we are and then he’ll tell them they need to talk to me, that I’m the decision maker. I still think the [assumption of men always being in charge] is out there.”

In her time away from FCICA, Oderkirk plays her mom role, with heavy involvement in her children’s school and extracurricular activities. She feels there must be balance between career and family. “I make sure everything gets done, but FCICA knows I am very involved with my kids. I always know what’s going on, and my kids know they can rely on me. I enjoy life because I found the right balance.”

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Floor Covering Leadership Council formed

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 2.46.16 PMAnaheim, Calif. – The Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC), an organization currently comprised of 15 associations—all dedicated to flooring—was formed in July, with the goal of addressing and improving some of the most pressing issues and problems faced by members of the flooring industry.

Organizations that have expressed a Council membership commitment include the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), National Institute of Certified Floorcovering Inspectors (NICFI), Marble Institute of America (MIA), Ceramic Tile Distributor Association (CTDA), Carpet Cushion Council (CCC), Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Flooring Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA), Certified Flooring Installer (CFI), Floor Installation Association of North America (FIANA), National Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD), North American Laminate Floor Association (NALFA) and American Flooring Association (AFA.)

FCLC represents an evolution of the Floor Covering Industry Issues Council (FCIIC.) The remaining active members of FCIIC, including WFCA, voted to overhaul the organization. They adopted a new name, revised their mission statement, and plan to revitalize membership and bring about a positive impact in the industry. The exploratory meeting to determine interest in and need for what would become FCLC took place on April 16, 2014, in Nashville, during the National Wood Flooring Association convention.

The new purpose statement for FCLC reads: The Floor Covering Leadership Council exists to identify issues and develop solutions that lead to the success of the floor covering industry and its professionals.

The official first meeting took place in Orlando on July 29. Seven associations were represented at this meeting and worked to identify the overall mission of FCLC as well as an ongoing agenda for the group. Members agreed the most effective way to bring about industry change was through group-focused action and cooperation. They identified the three most pressing issues affecting the flooring industry: access to training, the looming shortage of flooring installers, and the need for improved coordination between the several trade organizations that exist within the industry.

The topic deemed most important was access to efficient, effective and affordable professional training and instruction for industry members in all capacities. The FCLC organizers noted that manufacturers, associations, and colleges and schools across the country offer a vast number of training and education programs. They decided that the industry could derive great benefit from a centrally organized online portal, bringing all of those programs together and providing users with information about and links to courses in their areas of interest and their geographic locations. Ideally the information bank will also facilitate streamlining of training so organizations can avoid the costs of developing instructional programs for their employees that already exist and can be made available by today’s technology.

The second concern was in the area of flooring installation and its future. Currently the installation side of the business is facing a tremendous shortage of trained professionals across the country. This shortage has its origin in the recent economic recession, but the upturn in the U.S. economy has had little effect on the number of people turning or returning to careers in installation. Members of FCLC voted to begin work on a campaign designed to showcase and promote the many benefits of being an installer.

The last initiative identified by the group was establishing effective and ongoing communication and cooperation between associations in the industry. Members of associations dedicated to this industry recognize that they represent more power and influence together that each on its own. Through a concerted focus and effort the group hopes to bring the flooring community closer together, streamlining communications in order to keep everyone fully informed and capable of acting in concert to further the interests of the industry.

At the same meeting the council also identified leaders to head up each of the three issues identified. Jim Hieb, CEO, MIA, will direct the training program. Robert Varden, chairman, CFI, will oversee the installation and next generation initiative. And Kim Oderkirk, executive vice president, FCICA, will head up the communication and cooperation issue.

In addition, the group also elected Scott Humphrey, CEO, WFCA, to chair FCLC and Michael Martin, president and CEO, NWFA, as the vice chair. Kay Wiley, executive administrative assistant to Humphrey will serve as secretary. All will serve two-year terms.

“I am thrilled to be at the helm of such a powerful and motivated organization,” Humphrey said. “By bringing these associations and their member constituencies together I have no doubt we will be able to make a positive impact in the industry from which everyone can benefit.”

“We’re at a unique time in the flooring industry where a changing of the guard is taking place in many associations at the same time,” Martin said. “This group provides a forum for us to not only learn from each other, but to also develop new products and services that will have tremendous benefits to the entire industry. The spirit of collaboration is growing as we learn to see each other’s perspectives and define our goals together.”

Going forward the group plans to meet two times per year. The next meeting will take place in Miami in conjunction with the International Surfaces Event (TISE) on Oct. 19, 2014. Associations focused solely on flooring are welcome to join FCLC. For more information on the Floor Covering Leadership Council or to become a member, contact Scott Humphrey at 800-624-6880 or via email at shumphrey@wfca.org.