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NWFA conference delivers value for installers, vendors

April 16/23, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 22

By Reginald Tucker

 

Tampa, Fla.—Scores of hardwood flooring contractors, manufacturers and distributors converged at the Tampa Bay Convention Center here recently for the 33rd annual National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) conference and expo. As advertised, the event offered something for everyone in attendance—new products galore, networking and educational opportunities, technical tips and even some entertainment.

“It was a great event,” Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO, told FCNews. “In terms of numbers, we had about 3,000 people attend the expo—which has been pretty steady when you look at our shows over the past few years. We felt really good about it.”

Martin has good reason. The NWFA conference and expo was named one of the 50 fastest-growing trade shows for the past six consecutive years. Beyond the sprawling showcase of hardwood flooring products, installation tools and accessories, a big draw for attendees is the depth of technical, marketing and management sessions offered. In fact, the conference portion of the event boasted 20-plus hours of educational programming.

“We try to devise seminars that address the needs of all the channel segments we serve,” Martin explained, citing the mix of attendees who come to the show. What’s more, conference sessions are structured in such a fashion that encourages audience participation and interaction. “It’s not people talking ‘at you’ all the time. To that end, the sessions are arranged so participants are vocal and active during at least one-third of the sessions to keep them engaged. This allows everyone to learn from each other.”

Indeed, training and education remain a top priority for the association—and this extends beyond the instruction provided during NWFA’s renown installation schools held at its headquarters in Chesterfield, Mo., as well as regional training events across the country. During his opening keynote address to attendees, Martin provided an update on NWFAU—the group’s online training program. Since its inception in the summer of 2016, more than 30,000 courses have been completed by roughly 5,000 users—that translates into about 45 courses taken daily.

“We’re very encouraged by the participation we’re seeing in our online NWFA University,” Martin stated. “At the end of the day, the program benefits retailers, installers and consumers alike.”

Vendors see the value

Many of the exhibitors FCNews spoke to during the product showcase applaud the efforts NWFA management has made over the years to provide value for all members involved. Not only does the NWFA develop programs designed to raise the skill level of the dozens of professional hardwood flooring contractors in attendance, but the association goes above and beyond to deliver a captive audience for manufacturer members and vendor partners

“We’re here to support the industry and the association,” said Dan Natkin, vice president, hardwood and laminate, Mannington. “Many of the attendees here service the new home construction and residential replacement markets—both of which are important sectors for us.”

Pierre Thabet, president and CEO of Boa-Franc, maker of the Mirage brand of hardwood floors, agrees. “If you’re looking to reach the specialty hardwood flooring contractor, then this is the place to be,” he said. “This is where you meet the installers who really know all about hardwood flooring.”

Mannington and Mirage are not alone. Paul Rezuke, vice president, residential sales, USA, Wickham Flooring, also sees the value in exhibiting at the NWFA expo. “It’s been a really great show for us,” he told FCNews on the second day of the exhibition. “We feel it’s important to have a presence here as we expand our go-to-market strategy in the U.S. We’ve had some pretty good leads.”

Others see attending the expo as an opportunity to not only get in front of professional contractors, but also wood flooring distributors. “We’re here to show our new offerings in our branded Hearthwood line as well as products on the American OEM side that we can offer to distributors on a private-label basis,” said Allie Finkell, executive vice president.

Show stoppers

Among the key highlights of the 2018 NWFA show was the Plank Tank contest the association created to encourage members to submit their industry-related business ideas. Modeled after ABC Network’s “Shark Tank,” contestants in NWFA’s Plank Tank pitched their idea during the opening general session.

The competition was hosted by Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, owners of Cousins Maine Lobster, who appeared on “Shark Tank” in a previous season. The businessmen, known for growing their small food truck start-up into a national franchise success, also shared their experiences with attendees during the keynote presentation. The celebrity judges, along with a team of wood flooring professionals, reviewed previously submitted business ideas to determine their merits.

The contest winner, which was announced on the last day of the show along with the NWFA Floor of the Year finalists (see page 8), was Insight Flooring Technologies. The company was recognized for QuoteHero, an app that allows contractors and estimators to measure the square footage of rooms, estimate jobs and close sales on the spot. Insight Flooring Technologies received a $15,000 customized package of NWFA marketing and education products and services.

NWFA’s Martin applauded the concept. “It was good to see NWFA members up there on stage talking about new tools and innovations that will help the industry.”

Look for more coverage of the 2018 NWFA expo in upcoming editions of FCNews.

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Lägler to donate TRIO sander as part of NWFAU giveaway

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 4.31.52 PMSt. Louis–Lägler has partnered with the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) to promote NWFA University by donating a limited-edition carbon fiber TRIO sander, to be given away to one lucky user of NWFAU.

Professionals who engage with NWFA University and earn badges upon completing online courses will have the opportunity to purchase the badges they’ve earned to display on their business profile and to customers. For every badge that is purchased, that individual’s name will be entered into the raffle for the carbon-fiber TRIO sander. Only 10 of these special-edition machines were made to commemorate Lägler’s 60th anniversary. One was awarded in April at NWFA’s Expo.

“We are grateful that Lägler sees the benefit in NWFA University and is donating this unique TRIO sander to help promote our education program,” said Michael Martin, president and CEO. “NWFAU is an incredible opportunity for individuals to further their education and skill set by completing courses online and earning badges. We are excited for those engaging with NWFAU to have the opportunity to win this unique piece of equipment to enhance their education.”

NWFA University encourages professionals to grow their knowledge and skill set by taking part in meaningful education that will help turn a job into a career. More than 1,000 NWFAU online courses have been taken since the program launched on July 1.

More information about the NWFA University and how to earn and purchase badges is available at http://www.nwfa.org/nwfa-university.aspx.

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NWFA awards inaugural Wood Studies Scholarship

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.32.23 AMSt. Louis–The National Wood Flooring Association Education & Research Foundation has awarded its inaugural Wood Studies Scholarship to Nathan Ryan, a high school senior attending Pleasant Hill High School in Pleasant Hill, Mo. The $1,000 nonrenewable scholarship will be used by Ryan to fund his college studies to advance and improve forestry practices for future generations.

Ryan will begin a four-year program this fall to study Agronomy with a concentration in soil and environmental science at Kansas State University, in Manhattan, Kan. He is an Eagle Scout, a member of the National Honor Society, president of the Pleasant Hill FFA, and serves on the Pleasant Hill Student Council.

“Nathan exemplifies the attributes and spirit of the Wood Studies Scholarship,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “His high academic achievements, as well as his well-rounded extracurricular activities, demonstrate his commitment to the environment and his future career goals. We applaud his accomplishments to date, and are proud to support his future academic ambitions.”

To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher; an ACT/SAT score of 25/1800 or higher; a letter of recommendation; a resume outlining activities, awards, leadership, community service and work experience; and complete an essay about how the study of forestry benefits the wood flooring industry. Applications were received from across the United States and were evaluated by the NWFA’s Scholarship Committee based on academics, extracurricular activities, and future goals.

The scholarship is offered through the NWFA Education & Research Foundation (NERF), whose mission is to conduct industry research and provide scholarships for training benefiting the wood flooring industry. Since its inception, NERF has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships.

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NWFA offers customizable wood flooring styles and trends guide

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.51.35 AMSt. Louis–The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has released its first-ever consumer focused “Wood Floor Styles and Trends” guide. This informative “lookbook” is customizable, allowing NWFA members to brand the publication to use as a targeted marketing tool.

Designed to have a two-year shelf life, the 16-page booklet, sponsored by Bona, will help educate consumers to increase their knowledge of, and desire for, wood flooring. The lookbook contains a wide variety of photos highlighting the beauty, benefits, and current trends of wood flooring. Copy is minimal, but complements photos, sponsored by Mannington and Mohawk, by focusing on the following

• Environmental benefits
• Indoor air quality
• Long-term value
• Durability
• Maintenance
• Increased home value
• Species selection
• Wood flooring types
• Finish options
• Home environment moisture management
• Troubleshooting
• Finding local NWFA wood flooring professionals

The guide is available in both digital and print formats, making it suitable for e-mail campaigns, home shows, or direct marketing. “This consumer guide will help ensure that those employees at the point-of-sale have a selling tool that guides the buying process to the right product, and provides the consumer with a checklist to make sure they have enough knowledge to make the right long-term investment in their home,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “It is a valuable tool to help NWFA members market themselves and grow consumer demand for wood flooring.”

The guide will be available to consumers on the NWFA’s consumer website, www.woodfloors.org. The website also will take the guide one level further by providing more detailed information about wood flooring from an unbiased third-party resource on behalf of its members.

NWFA members can customize and purchase the guide by signing into NWFA’s member website, www.nwfa.org.

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NWFA, Gary Sinise Foundation dedicate smart home for veteran

Chris Sanna Home-3388

St. Louis–The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and several of its members participated in the Gary Sinise Foundation’s latest smart home building project completed earlier this month. Michael Martin, NWFA CEO, attended the home dedication ceremony for Army veteran Chris Sanna in House Springs, Mo.

Sanna was attending a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game this past summer with his family to celebrate his mother’s birthday. He and his girlfriend left the game early when two men approached them outside the stadium demanding their property. They complied with the robbers, and when Sanna and his girlfriend turned to run, the men shot them twice. Sanna was hit in his liver, lungs, and spine. He is paralyzed from the waist down.

Just after the holiday break, a group of contractors in St. Louis joined forces to install the flooring in Sanna’s home. The contractors, all of whom work for competing companies, volunteered their time to install about 1,400 square feet of wood flooring on the main level of Sanna’s ranch-style home, and about 700 square feet of tile in the basement. The local installation companies, all of whom were recruited by NWFA St. Louis member Lockwood Flooring, included All Wood Floor Company, JD’s Flooring, Jerry’s Fine Floors, Just Around the Corner, and JW Hardwood Floors. The 2¼-inch prefinished solid ash flooring that was installed was donated by Sheoga Hardwood Flooring and delivered by Ambassador Floors. The Sanna project represents the third home for which Sheoga has donated product.

Also participating in the project was an NWFA partner, the National Tile Contractor’s Association. NTCA coordinated tile donations for the home; tile was donated by NTCA member Florida Tile. NWFA member Mapei Corp. donated the setting material for the tile projects, as well as the grout.

The project was coordinated through the NWFA’s partnership with the Gary Sinise Foundation. GSF has several programs that provide wounded veterans and their families with the resources necessary to overcome their new life challenges. In addition to the flooring coordinated through NWFA and NTCA, Sanna’s home was completely renovated to meet his specific mobility issues.

“It’s a privilege to be a part of the Gary Sinise Foundation programs,” Martin said. “It’s important to recognize our veterans and their families for the many sacrifices they make on our behalf, and to give back in ways that can improve their lives.”

Other NWFA member companies that have committed to participate in the program include American OEM, Galleher, Mannington, Maxwell Hardwood Flooring, Mullican Flooring, Rust-Oleum, Somerset Flooring, and WD Flooring.

Martin encourages other NWFA members to get involved in its efforts to provide wood flooring in all GSF veteran homes. “So far, the NWFA has completed or committed to complete 16 homes,” he said. “As more veterans are identified, more member participation will be needed, including donations of product, product delivery, and product installation.”

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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.

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NWFA members volunteer for Nurses for Newborns project

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.15.38 AMSt. Louis — The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has announced member participation in a volunteer wood flooring installation project for Nurses for Newborns, a nonprofit organization focused on providing at-risk families with needed education, healthcare and positive parenting skills.

“I am happy the NWFA could help make this improvement project happen for Nurses for Newborns, an organization that provides so much good for the St. Louis community,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “We are proud of our members for many reasons, not the least of which is their generosity in sharing their time, knowledge and skills as they did with this project.”

The NWFA member volunteers were Nick Motto and Trever Carson, of Motto’s Flooring in O’Fallon, Mo.; Mathew Young, of Craftsman Flooring in Victoria, Australia; and Dustin Tunstall, of Tunstall Flooring in Port Allen, La. The flooring was donated by NWFA member company, Mannington Mills, in Salem, N.J.

The project was completed in partnership with Local Floor Layers 1310, whose volunteers were Paul Fromme, of Internal Construction Services in O’Fallon, Mo., and Dave Vanderpool and Dustin Mueller, of Corporate Flooring Group in St. Charles, Mo.

“We are incredibly grateful for members of our community to contribute this magnificent floor,” said Demetria Jackson, administrative and community engagement specialist at Nurses for Newborns. “To receive such a tangible gift we never could afford on our own, and one that allows us to improve our environment while still focusing our resources on programs for the community we serve is extremely valuable to us.”

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Buchanan Hardwoods’ Elite Flooring receives NWFA/NOFMA certification

image001-8St. Louis — The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has announced that Buchanan Hardwoods, Aliceville, Ala., has earned the NWFA/NOFMA Mill Certification for its Elite Flooring.

“Buchanan has joined the NWFA/NOFMA certification program as another partner in setting the standard for quality hardwood products,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “We are happy to present this certification to Buchanan for its Elite Flooring product line. The company’s addition to NOFMA, which has existed for more than 100 years, is another demonstration of the value of the program.”

Buchanan entered the flooring business in 1999, though it has been in the lumber industry for 75 years. The company owns or manages 100,000 acres of timber land in the South, sourcing its hardwood timber for lumber and flooring production from the Tombigbee River Basin in Alabama to the Appalachian Mountains.

“The NWFA/NOFMA Certification is valuable to our business relationships with our customers,” said Doug Fikes, Buchanan general manager. “It provides an extra level of confidence that what we produce is equal to their expectations.”

The NWFA/NOFMA certification shows that a manufacturer’s wood flooring meets or exceeds the industry standards for grade, configuration, moisture content, and average board length. Certified mills are inspected a minimum of two times per year to ensure consistent grade standards are met.

“Having a third-party, governing organization recognize our products for their quality offers an added assurance customers appreciate,” said Bill Buchanan, the company’s owner.

 

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NWFA trade show again named among 50 fastest growing

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 4.40.27 PMSt. Louis — For the second year in a row, the National Wood Flooring Association’s (NWFA) Wood Flooring Expo has been recognized as one of the 50 fastest-growing shows in the U.S. by Trade Show Executive magazine.

Trade Show Executive honors the fastest-growing trade shows and selects winners based on the percentage of growth in each of the following categories: net square feet, number of exhibiting companies and number of attendees.

The 2013 Wood Flooring Expo in Dallas recognized for net square feet and number of exhibiting companies. The 2012 Wood Flooring Expo in Orlando was recognized in all three categories.

“This is very rewarding recognition, especially as it’s for two years in a row,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “In 2012, our Expo committee and NWFA leadership worked together to completely rebuild the Expo from the ground up, and this growth clearly shows our Expo is delivering a strong return on investment for both our exhibitors and attendees. This past year in Nashville, we had another 30% surge in attendance, so we’re looking forward to exceeding expectations in 2015 when we bring the show to St. Louis for our 30th anniversary.”

The 2015 Wood Flooring Expo is scheduled for April 28–May 1 at the Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams football team, in St. Louis.

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NWFA: Wood Flooring Expo continues on growth path

Volume 27/Number 26; April 28/May 5, 2014

By Steven Feldman

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 2.51.34 PMNashville, Tenn.—The National Wood Flooring Association’s (NWFA) Wood Flooring Expo continues to capitalize not only on a growing economy, but also leadership’s mission to add more value to its members. This could not have been better illustrated at the 2014 expo held here April 16-18, where attendance topped the 3,000 mark for the first time in more than five years—30% above last year’s tally.

In addition, the annual trade show held April 17 featured 20 more suppliers than last year with 51 first-time exhibitors.

Michael Martin, president and CEO, NWFA, told FCNews he was especially pleased with the fact that 10% of the attendees were first timers at the show. “This adds value to the exhibitors, who cannot say they are seeing the same people all the time.”

In actuality, the Wood Flooring Expo is on a significant three-year growth trajectory. Attendance rose 30% in 2012, 20% in 2013 and now 30% in 2014. Martin cited several reasons. Of course, the recovery from the extended economic downturn is one, “although that can hurt us, too. Some people didn’t come because their business is too good. So we have gone from ‘We don’t have the money’ to ‘We don’t have the time.’”

Another factor driving the show’s success is the positive response to its overhaul in 2012. “We’ve tweaked the show a bit each year since then, but we’ve found a formula that works for our industry that we’re pretty happy with,” Martin said.

Changes for 2014 included additional trade show hours, as well as expanded education opportunities. “This year, we tried something new in response to attendee surveys,” Martin said. “We added a three-hour Wood Flooring University track on the last day of the show to give our attendees a deep dive into issues affecting their businesses. We had tracks for certification, contractors, and for distributors and manufacturers.” In addition, the NWFA added a mill tour to its program, hosted by Somerset Hardwood Flooring, in conjunction with two continuing education units for architects and designers. “This was the first time we’ve offered this kind of tour to reinforce our education sessions, and we had a waiting list of people wanting to participate.”

Another education change was adding the NWFA Certified Professionals (NWFACP) Symposium to the front end of the show and bringing in speakers with expertise in areas impacting certified professionals. NWFACP covers a variety of topics required for conducting thorough inspections, including inspection tools, photography, concrete, moisture testing, production, adhesives, leveling compounds, report writing, legal ramifications, professionalism and handling complaints. “This helped increase symposium attendance by more than 50% from 2013,” Martin said. “We had about 225 people participating.”

Education and networking have always been hallmarks of the NWFA event. “Members appreciate the peer-to-peer relationships so they can learn from each other,” Martin noted. “And the expo provides new product exposure and the opportunity to view new technologies and learn new ways of doing things.”

Last but not least, Martin said the location had a lot to do with the show’s success. “Nashville is a great city for us. It is attached to six states, meaning it is a drivable city for a good number of our members.”

Initiatives for 2014Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 2.52.07 PM

Martin pointed to a pair of initiatives on which the NWFA will focus in 2014. Not surprisingly, both involve education. For more than 25 years, the NWFA has been training and educating wood flooring professionals from all over the world in the installation, sanding, finishing and sales of wood flooring products. In fact, since 1995, the NWFA has offered 157 schools dealing with wood flooring exclusively, and nearly 4,400 students have attended to advance their hands-on skills and wood flooring knowledge.

“Moving forward, our biggest initiative will be our online platform,” Martin said. “We believe there’s a real opportunity here for many retailers because the likelihood of a salesperson making $15 an hour coming to one of our shows is small. But we can still help educate that salesperson on the right applications for wood, how to upsell the category, etc., [through an online component].”

This continues the evolution of the NWFA’s education initiatives, in which it was once solely national in scope with training workshops held in St. Louis and Las Vegas. But as the economy struggled, people in need of training were less able to afford the expense of travel, so the program was restructured to develop regional events that would minimize travel expenses. To illustrate, this year the NWFA has scheduled more than 40 weeks of training in 20 locations. The format features more than a dozen one-day workshops that allow students to customize training.

“The regional piece is still important, but the training will be integrated where some will be workshops, some will be hands on and some will be online,” Martin explained. “We want to provide a complete experience. We can cut out days of travel by putting some components online. It’s because we are competing against time away from the job site.”

The second educational initiative launched at the Wood Flooring Expo was the expansion of the NWFA’s scholarship program under its new Education & Research Foundation. A Legacy Scholarship program will provide meaningful financial assistance to wood flooring professionals throughout the world. There will be an annual campaign for funding the scholarship and research foundation.

The program started earlier this year with a vision from Tommy Maxwell, owner of Maxwell Hardwood in Monticello, Ark. “About a year ago, a good friend of mine, Bob Haggard [owner of Hassel & Hughes Lumber Co. in Collinwood, Tenn.] passed away,” Maxwell said. “I thought we should start a scholarship program in his name. When I mentioned it to the board and they started kicking the idea around, suddenly Dick Coates [Golden State Flooring] passed away, and we all said it should be bigger than one man. So, with Don Finkell’s guidance, we were able to restructure the scholarship programs to allow people to nominate someone to be recognized with a legacy scholarship by donating $5,000 in that person’s memory.

“Then, I started looking back and found all these people who had passed in the prior two or three years. These are people who not only contributed to the industry, but also fought to keep it alive when it almost died out. When we got through, it was 13 people and $65,000.” Derr Flooring also wanted to honor Chester Derr, which brought the inaugural rollout to 14 people honored.

How it works: The scholarship money will go into an NWFA fund, which will be administered by a scholarship committee. The best part? Not a penny of the principal will be spent—just the earnings. “This is not a depleting scholarship,” Martin said. Maxwell believes the fund could collect between $200,000 and $300,000 within the next year or so.

Other NWFA initiatives for 2014 include:

•Social media: The NWFA is working on “building a presence” on all social media platforms, Martin said. The association now has two dedicated resources to social media. “If Pinterest continues to grow, it’s great for the flooring industry because of the visual aspect. I think the more visual social media is, the more successful it is for our purposes. For example, we can showcase the different species.”

•Relationships: The NWFA is putting effort into building closer relationships with the other flooring- and hardwood-related industries. “We are a small piece of two industries, so we want to make sure we are aligned to create synergies and eliminate duplication,” Martin explained.

•Truth About Trees: This is the program designed to get the NWFA’s message out to school-age children about the benefits of properly harvesting trees as a means to obtain all the necessary items we use in our everyday lives. “Children grow up thinking that cutting down a tree is bad,” Martin said. “We have more trees today in the U.S. than we did 100 years ago. It’s a great, renewable program as long as responsible forestry is practiced.”