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Ten people making a difference

May 14/21, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 24

One measure of success in business or in life is being able to make a positive impression on the lives of others. Whether that is achieved through strong leadership, perseverance, compassion, humility or some other personality trait, this year’s Ten People Making a Difference list has impacted the flooring world in many different ways—and in some cases well beyond the scope of the industry. As in years past, this year’s list includes top-level flooring executives whose work helped shape their company’s fortunes as well as those from outside whose efforts nonetheless were deeply felt within the flooring sector.

FCNews’ Ten People Making a Difference is an amalgam of movers, shakers and groundbreakers who achieve success in a variety of ways.

Dave Meberg: The Doer

By Brett Morrow

When I think of Dave Meberg, whom I have known as a friend for more than 20 years, I think of a guy who is intelligent, has a big presence—both physically as well as the way in which he conducts himself. One of the cool things about him is he understands the job from the ground up. He’s not one of these guys who hung around the country clubs growing up and just happened to take over his dad’s company.

Dave came from a family of old-school Norwegian guys. He learned to work the trucks; he worked the warehouse where his family made him sweep the floors. He understands the logistics of everything. He knows what the warehouse guys are up against, what the project managers are doing, the estimators and so on. To this day, I am amazed at how involved he is. Dave has his own business (he is principal, president and CEO of New York-based Consolidated Carpet), but he’s also actively involved with the Greater New York Floor Coverers Association, with Starnet and the New York City District Council of Carpenters. You don’t get to be on the district council very easily. To get to the point where Dave has gotten takes tremendous sacrifice, and yet he has earned everything.

Dave is a very good communicator who is extremely well prepared. He is a not a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of guy. If he has a meeting coming up, he does his due diligence. He knows going in what the material costs are, what the labor estimates are, etc. He not only can talk the talk, but he can walk the walk as well.

Brett Morrow is vice president of Soundtone Floors, Long Island City, N.Y.

Rochelle Routman: The Disruptor

By Harlan Stone

When I hired Rochelle Routman to become our first chief sustainability officer two years ago, I anticipated great things from her. We felt her vision and expertise could not only help us, but also transform the resilient industry. But I had no idea that she would have such great impact in such a short period of time.

Two years later, Rochelle has relentlessly pursued her vision for transparency and sustainability, and this has resulted in a stunning series of firsts for our company and the resilient industry. Not only have Metroflor and Aspecta achieved the most rigorous third-party certifications in product, but we have also had groundbreaking achievements in transparency. Most recently, the issuance of the first JUST label for a China-based factory of any kind.

Guided by her leadership, and with the help of our product authority team, Metroflor earned Declare labels—analogous to nutrition labels for building products—across Aspecta’s entire range of commercial flooring, and the first-ever Declare label for a multilayer flooring product. We were also the first to have all Declare labels translated into six languages for full global product ingredient transparency.

But the real crowning achievement of Rochelle’s first two years is this persistent focus on transparency. Not just simple things like material ingredients, but also changing the game with transparency in operations, manufacturing, supply chain and social impact. JUST has arrived in our industry thanks to Rochelle, and it’s only the beginning.

When you go to a sustainability/transparency conference with Rochelle, it feels like you are accompanying a rock star though a music festival. She knows everyone, and everyone wants to stop her and show their appreciation for her never-ending energy and dedication to these important values.

Rochelle is driving and redefining what is possible in transparency and sustainability in the resilient flooring industry.

Harlan Stone is co-chairman of Metroflor Corp.

Stephanie Owen: The Online Educator

By Brett Miller

Stephanie Owen joined the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) in 2015 to spearhead its online learning platform, NWFA University (NWFAU). With no flooring background on her resume, but extensive experience developing educational curricula, Owen immersed herself in the industry while simultaneously researching online learning platforms.

Just 18 months later, NWFAU launched with 50-plus courses. Individual courses are just 10-20 minutes in length, so they are easy to fit into a busy schedule. Courses also are accessible using a PC, tablet or smartphone.

Since the initial launch in July 2016, course options have increased to 100-plus, with learning paths in installation, sand and finish, and sales. A manufacturing learning path launches this month, with future course development planned for inspections, customer service and business skills.

To date, 31,400-plus courses have been completed, averaging about 50 per day. Contributing to the success of the program has been the platform’s convenience and affordability. NWFAU is a member benefit, available for just $100 per year. And since NWFA membership is company-based, all member company employees are eligible to utilize NWFAU. Nearly 900-member companies currently use NWFAU as part of their employee training programs, equating to 6,100-plus individual registered users.

NWFAU and Owen have been recognized with an Association Trends 2017 Learnie Award for Biggest Success Story, and an Association Trends 2017 Gold All Media Award for eLearning & Live Training.

Also included on NWFAU are member-sponsored webinars, Expo education sessions and CEUs registered with AIA and IDCEC/ASID for continuing education credits.

Brett Miller is vice president, education and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association.

Gary Sinise: The Humanitarian

By Anita Howard

Actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise has supported veterans for nearly 40 years. His portrayal of Lt. Dan Taylor in the 1994 film “Forrest Gump” established his enduring connection with the disabled military community. Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, he participated in many USO tours, later forming the Lt. Dan Band, which entertains troops and raises awareness at benefit concerts. The band performed at the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Wood Flooring Expo in 2017.

In 2011, Sinise furthered his commitment to our nation’s heroes by establishing the Gary Sinise Foundation (GSF), whose mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders and their families. The GSF R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment) specifically provides mortgage-free, fully customized smart homes for America’s most severely wounded heroes. In 2015, GSF partnered with NWFA to provide wood flooring in R.I.S.E. homes. To date, NWFA has provided flooring, logistics and installation for 26 homes, with another 21 homes in various stages of planning and construction. NWFA also has introduced GSF to other industry partner organizations, including the National Hardwood Lumber Association, National Tile Contractors Association and Marble Institute of America.

In recognition of his humanitarian efforts, Sinise was presented with the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment, Spirit of the USO Award, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Dwight D. Eisenhower Award and Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation.

To learn more about GSF programs, visit garysinisefoundation.org.

Anita Howard is the COO of the National Wood Flooring Association.

Kevin Brady: The Lawmaker

By Shana Teehan

You might not know his name, but if you are a small business—and that includes the vast majority of flooring dealers—you could already be benefiting from his work on the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, which offers a 20% deduction for qualified business income from so-called pass-through entities, which include S corporations and limited-liability companies.

Kevin Brady (R.-Texas) chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, regarded by many to be the most powerful committee in Congress with jurisdiction over taxes, health care, Social Security, Medicare, international trade and welfare. Brady is the chief author of the tax reform bill, which was signed into law in December 2017.

The tax break is intended to provide small businesses with some much-needed breathing room to compete with larger businesses and global competitors that have a smaller tax burden. Business owners can use their tax savings to hire new employees, increase employee wages and incentives, purchase inventory, expand their workspace, pay down debt or reduce their prices.

“As House Ways and Means Committee chairman, and lead author of the bill, my goals were simple,” Brady said. “Cut taxes for the middle class, simplify our unfair and broken tax code, and make America the most competitive place in the world to do business.”

Shana Teehan serves as senior advisor and director of communications for Kevin Brady.

Theresa Fisher: The Passionate Partner

By Howard Brodsky

As senior vice president of store design and merchandising, Theresa Fisher has helped shape the customer experience that has come to be the standard of excellence for independent flooring retailers. From the creation of Carpet One Floor & Home’s “Destination: Carpet One” store design program to her hand in developing differentiating branding for CCA exclusive brands, Theresa’s innate sense of style and understanding of today’s customer have made her an invaluable asset to CCA Global.

However, Theresa’s impactful store design is not the only way she has had an impact at CCA Global and throughout the floor covering industry. Without Theresa’s passionate persistence and dedication, Carpet One Floor & Home and CCA Global Partners would not have the rewarding partnership with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and their Building for America’s Bravest program that we have today. This program builds smart homes for catastrophically injured service members, many of them triple or quadruple amputees, to help them regain some of the independence lost due to their injuries.

Theresa has helped bring our membership together to help make a magnificent impact on the lives of our injured heroes through partnership with Building for America’s Bravest. Carpet One’s participation in the Building for America’s Bravest program has not only ensured that 36 of these smart homes have beautifully installed flooring, but also brought the membership of our cooperative together to work towards a common goal.

True to Theresa’s nature, it wasn’t good enough to just get Carpet One on board to install flooring; she was compelled to do more. She pushed further to pull in our industry partners. Today, Building for America’s Bravest receives support from Carpet One along with Mohawk, Masterbrand and Hunter Douglas. Still, Theresa felt we could do more. She now helps organize a large group of members to participate in the annual T2T 5K and encourages members to host additional fundraisers to help raise the funds needed to build smart homes.

Her desire to do good for our members and the world along with her keen eye and innovative spirit have made her an essential part of CCA Global Partners.

Howard Brodsky is co-founder and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners.

Jeff King: The Advocate

By Scott Humphrey

Of all the relationships I have developed in my tenure in this industry, Jeff King, legal counsel to the WFCA, is easily one of the most influential and fascinating individuals I have encountered. Though his education and background are in the legal arena, his knowledge of the flooring industry is second to none.

After graduating from Albany Law School of Union University, Jeff practiced law in Washington, D.C., for many years before moving to Delray Beach, Fla., where he resides with his wife and renowned interior designer Luba King and daughter Larissa. He has served the WFCA and our industry for over 20 years. In addition to authoring three publications for the WFCA: “Contracts—Cannot Live Without Them,” “The Independent Contractor Primer” and “Green Flooring Primer,” Jeff is one of the most requested speakers at industry events. If you have had the privilege of hearing Jeff, you are in no way surprised that he has been selected as one of the “10 people driving the industry.”

Jeff’s knowledge of all flooring related occupations and the issues impacting us is surpassed only by his passion for change and compassion for the people who make their living in our industry. He accurately predicts national trends by monitoring state activity and is respected in our nation’s capital to such a level that his opinion is often sought by those formulating their stances and/or considering legislation. He has proposed solutions and/or offered draft legislation to address issues including: The Marketplace Fairness Act, independent contractors, overtime regulations, government over regulation, the labor crisis, etc.

Though this industry and the WFCA comprises many strong leaders and advocates, there is none more positively driving our industry than my friend and the legal counsel to the WFCA—Mr. Jeff King.

Scott Humphrey is the president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association.

Zack Zehner: The Heir Apparent

By Keith Campbell

Not many companies get to hold onto their old values as they reach for the new ones, but that’s exactly what is happening here at Mannington Mills as the fifth generation of the Campbell family emerges into company leadership.

Zack Zehner, my nephew, currently serves as our senior vice president of distribution network and has been a driving force in Mannington’s progress over the past few years. Zack’s efforts have kept us on the forefront of innovation while continuing to foster important relationships among our distributor partners.

He joined Mannington in 2003 after five years as a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and has learned about Mannington by using that old-school work ethic and actually doing the hard work. He was a district sales manager, a product director for laminate and porcelain tile, and vice president of commercial hard surface before stepping into his current role.

Just as important, he’s leading the company’s culture into the next generation. Family values are the cornerstone of everything we do here at Mannington, and Zack understands that. Zack grew up in a family where those values were part of his everyday life. Mannington was all we talked about at family gatherings, and Zack really absorbed it all. His passion for this company and the people who work here is in his blood.

Zack’s dedication extends into the community as well. He is now president of Stand Up for Salem, a community revitalization organization founded by my father, Johnny, and where I served for many years. Our headquarters is in Salem, N.J., and although we do business all over the world—and may not live within the confines of the zip code—it will always be our home.

Keith Campbell is chairman of the board for Mannington Mills.

Diana Rosenberger: The Initiator

By Troy Virgo

Until recently, Shaw Industries’ sustainable sourcing efforts consisted of a standalone supplier guide that defined Shaw’s expectations of suppliers regarding environmental protection, social fairness, ethical behavior and identified desired disclosure around chemicals of concern.

However, Diana Rosenberger, sustainability manager-global sourcing, recognized an opportunity for Shaw to have an even bigger impact in its sustainability efforts by engaging with its supply chain differently. Doing so stood to ensure Shaw’s products met globally recognized principles and were aligned with Shaw’s sustainability commitments to impact those who source from this supplier base.

Diana helped the company create a legally enforceable, easy-to-read, sustainable sourcing policy that would be integrated into our Standard Terms and Conditions of Purchase. She brought the Ten Principles of UN Global Compact to Shaw to use as the backbone of our new sustainable sourcing policy. Diana’s efforts led to Shaw becoming an official signatory in late 2017. Being a signatory of the UN Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, brings external credibility to Shaw’s new sustainable sourcing policy.

In short order, Diana’s efforts are positively impacting Shaw products, Shaw’s supply chain, the flooring industry as a whole and manufacturers in myriad industries by advancing options for safer chemistry.

Diana’s collaborative approach shows what can happen when we work together toward a common goal.

Troy Virgo is director of sustainability and product stewardship for Shaw Industries.

Kurt Denman: The Brand Builder

By Chris O’Connor

His diverse work experience combined with his passion for branding that is underpinned by meaningful consumer insights are the things that have enabled Kurt to drive change in an industry that can be predictable.

Over the past five years, Kurt and his team have worked to revitalize the Congoleum portfolio, improve the consumer journey and ultimately set the stage for the next chapter in Congoleum’s storied history.

By allowing market and consumer needs to guide the journey, we created a new category of PVC-free, digitally printed flooring. Equally challenging was to create a connection between this break-through technology and a new generation of consumers. Kurt had the vision to create a style-driven brand that would live outside the umbrella of Congoleum. While known for making high-quality products within the industry, Congoleum is also known as a producer of vinyl flooring. Cleo is not just another vinyl product; it’s different in every way.

The process of bringing a revolutionary product to market has been the most challenging and exciting part of my career. To see Kurt’s vision for the brand unveiled at Surfaces earlier this year was an unbelievable experience.

Chris O’Connor is the president and CEO of Congoleum.

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WFCA announces new hire, promotion

WFCA-LogoDalton––The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), has expanded its staff in response to the accelerated growth of membership, according to Scott Humphrey, CEO. To that end, Kaye Whitener has joined the association as national manager, member relations. Meanwhile, Ashley Welch has been promoted to membership coordinator.

Whitener joins WFCA from Metro Carpets in Nashville, Tenn. In her previous role she oversaw the retail, builder, and commercial divisions of the company. In her new position with WFCA, Whitener will oversee membership recruitment, engagement and retention in all categories. As part of these responsibilities, Whitener will help drive utilization of benefits offered by the WFCA, CFI and fcB2B organizations with all member levels. Whitener will also be in charge of creating, implementing and supporting outreach strategies for WFCA affiliate and affinity partners.

In Welch’s new role within the organization she will be responsible for maintaining and ensuring accuracy of the WFCA member database, the processing of member applications and renewals, coordinating member mailings, developing and updating the association’s contact list, as well as building relationships with current and prospective members. Both Whitener and Welch will report to Freida Staten, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We are thrilled to be expanding our membership team at WFCA with the addition of Kaye Whitener,” Staten said. “Kaye is a highly seasoned professional who literally ‘grew up’ and has spent her entire career in the flooring business. She brings with her a wealth of experience and insight to help our members maximize all of the benefits that WFCA has to offer. We are thrilled to have her on our team.”

Whitener said she is looking forward to working with WFCA retail members “to help inspire and foster the growth of their businesses through WFCA membership.”

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Labor, installation issues dominate WFCA agenda

June 6/13, 2016; Volume 30, Number 25

By Ken Ryan

Rarely do a few weeks pass without the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) making some significant news, whether it is partnering with another flooring association or funding entities such as fcB2B or CFI. So it was no surprise that the recent WFCA board of directors meeting in Colorado Springs was themed: What is our next move?

Scott Humphrey, CEO of the WFCA, told FCNews that sometimes the next move is to “walk away from a deal; sometimes it is to double down and other times it is to consider something completely different than what you have been doing.”

Following are some highlights from the meeting.

In January, the WFCA announced a partnership with the Floor Covering Business to Business Association (fcB2B) through a financial commitment that included hiring a full-time executive director, Phillip Zolan. WFCA has taken the next step by folding fcB2B under the WFCA umbrella “as a way to secure its future viability,” Humphrey said.

Over the past 15 years the fcB2B team has worked to create a seamless digital program for the flooring industry, and studies show the program could save flooring retailers and manufacturers significant time and money. Humphrey encouraged flooring retailers to embrace this technology. “Not utilizing fcB2B is like using a rotary phone as opposed to a smartphone,” he quipped. Nine new members have joined fcB2B since January; dozens more are being recruited.

 

CFI

The WFCA, which absorbed CFI as a standalone division last year, has amended its bylaws so CFI will have at least two positions on the board. This is meant to give CFI a voice within the WFCA hierarchy. Tom Cartnell, who has two years remaining on the board, is currently the lone CFI member. However, CFI will create an advisory council to choose a second CFI member who will join the board during the next board rotation in January 2017.

 

Overtime law

In a move with implications for scores of flooring retail owners, the Department of Labor recently announced its biggest changes to overtime regulations in more than a decade, essentially doubling the salary threshold at which workers are eligible for time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours per week.

The final rule, as it is called, focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for executive, administrative and professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the final rule sets the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region, currently the south ($913 per week; $47,476 annually for a full-year worker). Additionally, the final rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level. The effective date of the final rule is Dec. 1, 2016.

The WFCA, lobbying on behalf of independent dealers, urged the Labor Department to adopt the southern data, which in this case lowered the salary threshold by $3,000 to $4,000. According to Humphrey, more than 270,000 comments were submitted on this law, with the final rule included WFCA’s proposal to recalculate and lower the minimum salary requirement, to include bonuses in salary calculations and to make no changes to duty test.

The OT rule is one of several actions being addressed by the lobbying arm of the WFCA. There is the much-discussed employee/independent contractor issue, which puts flooring installers and retailers at the mercy of various government agencies and their specific benchmarks for what constitutes an IC vs. an employee; and the Marketplace Fairness Act, in which a state cannot require out-of-state online sellers to collect the sales tax owed from its customers who purchase flooring products. WFCA members, however, must collect the local sales tax, which ultimately affects the final price on their products.

Humphrey noted the WFCA’s lobbying efforts are gaining influence. “It’s because we represent the mom and pops. The lawmakers see the mom and pops on Main Street as having real votes—they matter. The legislators look at Walmart as one vote. I want our dealers to understand the power of their influence. We want to amplify their voices; we want to give them more clout in the marketplace.”

 

In other news…

Paul Pumphrey, now 90, is going to Washington, D.C., to visit the National World War II Memorial. The trip was made possible by the WFCA in recognition of Pumphrey’s contributions to the association as well as his military service. He served in the U.S. Merchant Marines from 1943 to 1945. He will be joined by Humphrey and others who will go to Washington to meet with lawmakers.

Pumphrey is the only individual to have served as president of both the Western Floor Covering Association and Retail Floorcovering Institute (later named the American Floorcovering Association), the predecessors of the World Floor Covering Association. Pumphrey, who regularly attends WFCA meetings, is a member of the association’s Hall of Fame.

 

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WFCA to move headquarters to Dalton

WFCA-LogoDalton––Scott Humphrey, chief executive officer of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), announced that the WFCA will move its headquarters from Anaheim, Calif., to Dalton. Humphrey said the decision was made by unanimous vote of both the WFCA executive and finance committees. The action was taken at a meeting of the groups earlier this year.

The new address of the WFCA headquarters is: 855 Abutment Road, Suite 1, Dalton, Ga., 30721. The phone number for the WFCA office is 706-217-1183.

“WFCA planted its roots in the Dalton market in 2013,” Humphrey said. “Establishing a presence for WFCA in the city that represents the heart of our industry was a natural move for the organization. Over the past few years we have witnessed many changes taking place in our sector and we felt it was a critical time for the WFCA to broaden and strengthen its presence in the Dalton area. In the time leading up to this move, we have successfully raised our visibility with retailers nationwide as well as with the constituents that are critical to the success of our members. In order to build on the momentum we have achieved and create the traction and stability that our members are looking for, it was time to lock our footing in Georgia and continue building on the foundation we have worked diligently to establish.”

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WFCA’s Humphrey to join upcoming FCNews webinar

March 14/21, 2016; Volume 30, Number 19

Hicksville, N.Y.—World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) CEO Scott Humphrey will be the guest expert joining the FCNews Marketing Mastery webinar on April 21, speaking on the six pillars of success for today’s competitive market.

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“Heavy competition from box stores and online discounters present significant challenges for flooring retailers,” said FCNews columnist Jim Armstrong, producer and co-host of the monthly webinars. “Dealers who don’t have an aggressive plan to overcome these challenges will find their businesses increasingly at risk. I’m excited to have Scott as our guest to speak on the six pillars topic. It’s a message retailers need to hear.”

Some of the points Humphrey will address include:

  • The results from the WFCA secret shopper research and what they mean for retailers.
  • An affordable strategy retailers can use to get a competitive edge over the box stores.
  • A simple step retailers can take to increase their market advantages in their towns.
  • How retailers can reduce their workloads and eliminate stress by using affordable tools formerly only available to box stores and other corporate giants.

There is no cost to attend the webinar. To register, visit market ingmasterywebinar.com/FCNews. To join a future webinar as a guest expert, call Armstrong at 877.887.5791.

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McSwain Carpet and Floors honored with WFCA Gold Standard award

WFCA-LogoDalton–Scott Humphrey, CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), announced that McSwain Carpet and Floors of Cincinnati was the recipient of the Gold Standard Award for excellence in retailing.

The WFCA Gold Standard Award carries with it a $5,000 check, a trophy, acknowledgement on the WFCA website and a customized WFCA seal for the winning store’s entrance.

“McSwain stood out from the crowd in many ways but their overall mantra sums it up best—‘to put the customer first and to meet and exceed expectations 100% of the time,’” Humphrey said. “Not only has this store continued to achieve financial growth in a challenging market, they have also netted high ratings in customer satisfaction, retention, and new business word-of-mouth referrals. A true testament of their retail mastery—what some might consider to be the Holy Grail—they have achieved extremely high ratings for ‘employee satisfaction and retention.’”

Humphrey noted that McSwain also received the highest honors a retailer can achieve from Armstrong, which honored McSwain with its Elite award, which is given to the top 2% of more than 11,200 independent flooring stores nationwide.

According to Armstrong, McSwain represents the very best of what a retailer should be. Consumers can count on them for ‘an expert team of trained product professionals dedicated to helping shoppers choose the right floor.’”

Jason McSwain, owner, said the company was thrilled to have won the Gold Standard award. “We have been serving the metro Cincinnati community for over 45 years and in that time we have continued to build on our foundation, not only as a retailer focused on our customer’s experience but also as a pillar of support in our community. At McSwain, we value ‘giving back’ as a central mission in our business model. Our employees are encouraged to be leaders in all capacities within the community and our business supports this. We are active with many causes including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, ‘Homes For Our Troops’, Habitat for Humanity, the establishment of a free medical clinic in Cincinnati and multiple other charitable causes.”

For the first time the WFCA also recognizing five additional stores for Gold Standard Honorable Mentions:

  • Carpet Plus, Charlottesville, Va.;
  • Classique Floors, Portland, Ore.;
  • Sergenians Floor Coverings, Madison, Wis.;
  • Cash and Carry Flooring, Traverse City, Mich.
  • Coles Fine Flooring, San Diego

 

Companies interested in entering or nominating an entrant for the 2017 Gold Standard Award can visit wfca-pro.org for more details.

 

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WFCA seeks entries for Gold Standard retail award

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 1.48.57 PMAnaheim, Calif. — Scott Humphrey, CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), announced that entries for the annual Gold Standard Award are now being accepted.

The Gold Standard Award is presented each year to one retailer who exemplifies the highest WFCA member standards and has created an outstanding retail experience for customers.

To receive the award, retailers are reviewed and judged based on:

  • Knowledge – A knowledgeable and well managed staff who remain actively informed on their own inventory as well as news and issues affecting the industry;
  • Customer Service – Providing courteous service and customer assistance throughout the selection, purchase and post-purchase processes;
  • Quality of Store Image – A clean, professional, well maintained store; and
  • Code of Conduct — Adherence to the WFCA Code of Conduct.
  • In addition, companies must also be members of the WFCA, have been in business for at least three years, and have favorable Better Business Bureau reports.
  • The winner of this year’s award will receive a $5,000 check, a Gold Standard Trophy, press recognition and a customized WFCA seal for their store entrance.
  • To enter, applicants must complete the submission form and present multimedia marketing materials and other documents, all of which will be factored into the review process. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31, 2014. Companies interested in entering or nominating an entrant for the 2014 Gold Standard Award can visit       WFCA-PRO.ORG or call (800) 624-6880 for more details.
  • NOTE: All entry material will be treated with complete confidentiality and will be reviewed only by the judging panel.
  • The award winner will be announced at Surfaces in Las Vegas between Jan. 21-23.

 

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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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Obit: French-Brown Floors founding partner, Elizabeth Swift Brown

Elizabeth Swift Brown obitDallas — Elizabeth Swift Brown, founding partner of French-Brown Floors in Dallas, died May 23 at age 95.

In a memo, World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) CEO Scott Humphrey wrote that Mrs. Brown “lived a long and full life with many lasting contributions both to her community and to our industry. In addition to starting her own successful business with her husband in 1952, she was a founding member of the International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA) and recipient of multiple national awards and recognitions.”

At the IFDA she served as president of the Southwest Chapter; president of the National Chapter; National Foundation president; and received its National Honorary Recognition Award. (Only nine people have received this recognition in the history of the association.) In 2001, the IFDA created an educational scholarship fund in her name. She was also the recipient of the Community Service Award by the American Society of Interior Designers for “projects that improve design and/or quality of life in the community,” Humphrey wrote.

Brown held the position of president of the Greater Dallas Floor Covering Association. She was also elected to Western Floors Magazine’s Hall of Fame in 1975. She was named Person of the Year by Modern Floors Magazine. Brown was the keynote speaker at the National Wood Flooring Association conference in Kansas City and was given its Industry Leadership Award.

Brown is survived by her three sons and their wives–Richard and Shari Brown, Stephen and Tana Brown and WFCA Board Member, Mitchell Brown and his wife Betsy—in addition to six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Services for Mrs. Brown were held in Dallas on May 28. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in her name to the Macular Degeneration Foundation.

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WFCA objects to OSHA's new silica work proposal

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.28.50 PMAnaheim, Calif. — The World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Association’s objections to new rules that have been proposed for work involving crystalline silica.

“WFCA fully supports the general concern over worker safety,” said Scott Humphrey, chief executive officer of WFCA. “But the scientific evidence regarding the risks from exposure to crystalline silica simply does not justify imposing the substantial costs of compliance with the new proposal on retail flooring dealers.”

Crystalline silica is a naturally occurring substance found in sand and stone. It is present in flooring products that are sourced from sand and stone, including tiles, glass, concrete and grout. OSHA based its new regulatory proposal on studies of the cumulative effect of crystalline silica inhalation on miners, quarry workers and others exposed to this hazard daily for more than 20 years.

WFCA’s comments to OSHA demonstrated that flooring installers are exposed to crystalline silica dust only occasionally, such as when they cut tile or stone flooring, repair concrete or remove grout. But if the proposed new standards are applied to the operations of independent flooring retailers, those dealers would have to incur substantial costs for new equipment, continuous medical examination and air monitoring, and extensive record-keeping.

The proposed standard cuts previously established exposure limits in half and would require employers to:

  • Measure the amount of silica dust that every worker is exposed to in an average eight-hour day;
  • Buy and use certain equipment, such as stationary masonry saws, equipped with integrated water delivery systems and HEPA vacuums;
  • Limit access of workers to areas that have dust concentrations above the proposed permissible level, but not allow employee rotation to minimize exposure;
  • Provide respirators to workers when dust controls cannot limit exposure to the new permissible level;
  • Offer medical exams-including chest X-rays and lung function tests-at employer expense every three years for workers exposed to conditions above the new permissible levels for 30 or more days per year;
  • Provide guidelines and train workers on work operations that result in silica exposure and offer ways to limit exposure; and
    • Keep records of workers’ silica exposure and medical exams.

Humphrey explained that the WFCA opposes application of the proposed new rules to retail flooring dealers because of the relatively limited exposure of the dealers’ workers to crystalline silica dust. The WFCA provided OSHA with information showing that the vast majority of flooring dealers do not have employees or independent contractors who regularly cut or sand tile, stone, or concrete. WFCA presented data demonstrating that the proposed standard would impose an unreasonable financial burden on the average retail flooring dealer.

“Most of us were not even aware of the proposed regulation, which would cost dealers thousands of dollars, until WFCA brought it to our attention,” said Scott Walker, chief financial officer, WFCA, and owner of Walkers Carpet One Floor & Home Inc. in Bellingham, Wash. “With the Association’s call to arms, we immediately mobilized and provided information to explain the low exposure to crystalline silica the average installer would encounter working on flooring.”

WFCA asked OSHA to revise the rule to exempt retail flooring dealers and installers from the new standard based on the intermittent and de minimis exposure of its employees and contractors to crystalline silica, especially if a dealer’s employees are not exposed to crystalline silica greater than the daily permissible amount for more than 30 days per year.

This effort was part of WFCA’s ongoing Public Policy program that monitors federal and state legislative and regulatory actions. “WFCA is committed to protecting its members,” Humphrey explained and “once we advise our members of the issue, they assembled and provided the needed information to oppose this overreaching standard.” OSHA will now review all the comments submitted to determine what the final standard will include.