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American Olean focuses on PK training during roadshow

Dallas—American Olean is conducting intensive product knowledge training with its distributors through a nationwide roadshow stopping at all distributor locations. The training focuses on new products launching this summer.

“Distributors are a huge piece of how tile gets to market in the U.S.,” said Hector Narvaez, vice president of distributor sales, American Olean. “In fact, they are the biggest channel, so we put great emphasis on appropriately supporting our distributors. Together, American Olean and our distributor partners bring not only superior products to our retail customers, but unmatched customer service.”

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Install to open new Texas training center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mohawk Industries makes rank on Training's elite list

Calhoun, Ga.—Mohawk Industries once again took top honors on the 18th annual Training magazine “Top 125” list, placing 47th alongside some of the United States’ most highly regarded businesses. Other organizations on the list include Edward Jones, CVS Health, Walmart, U.S. Postal Service, La Quinta Holdings and Best Buy.

This marks the 12th consecutive year Mohawk has earned a spot in the “Top 125” rankings compiled by the leading publication for learning and development professionals. The 2018 rankings were unveiled at a black-tie gala on Feb. 12 as part of the annual Training Convention & Expo, held this year in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.

“Being recognized on Training’s ‘Top 125’ list every year for over a decade is a testament to how Mohawk’s learning culture actively brings value to our customers,” said Becky Redd, director of Mohawk’s Learning Resource Network. “Whether in formal programs or through informal training, coaching and mentoring, we are investing in our people to ensure that they have the skills to succeed in their current and future roles while delivering industry-leading design, service, quality and innovation.”

Training magazine’s annual list evaluates excellence in employer-sponsored training and development programs across all aspects of business: manufacturing, logistics, sales, administrative functions, safety and compliance. The magazine employs a panel of judges to evaluate the results of these initiatives both qualitatively and quantitatively, seeking the impact of the programs to the business.

While Mohawk facilitates many robust training initiatives across the enterprise, one point of pride is the company’s nationally-recognized, registered mechatronics apprenticeship program. The program combines work experience and classroom education as part of ongoing mechatronics training that includes mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering skills. At the end of the program, which can be completed in four years or less depending on initial skill levels, participants receive their apprenticeship certification and have the option to complete additional coursework to receive an associate degree in mechatronics. Mohawk covers the cost of tuition and books, as well as compensating apprentices for classroom hours and on the job training.

“At Mohawk, we recognize the need to attract and develop talented individuals who can meet the increasingly technical demands of our highly competitive industry,” said Linda McEntire, director of technical training. “The company invests in state-of-the-art technology and needs people whose talent and skills can optimize that technology to benefit our customers and maintain our position as the innovation leader in the marketplace.”

Since its 2014 launch, the Mohawk Apprenticeship Program has attracted more than 60 apprentices at 14 manufacturing locations across the country and has maintained a 94% retention rate with 100% of apprentices becoming full-time, skilled Mohawk employees.

“Our Mohawk Apprenticeship Program and other company initiatives are contributing to a trained workforce, an increase in local workforce development, and strong partnerships with local technical colleges and career academies,” McEntire said. “Mohawk is not only advancing the future of our company, but we are also advancing the lives of people in our communities.”

The current “Top 125” was highly competitive, according to Training magazine. The rankings are determined by assessing a range of factors, including the scope of development programs and how well those initiatives assist the organization in achieving its business goals and objectives.

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Shaw ranks among top 125 companies for training, development

Dalton, Ga.—Shaw Industries has been recognized as one of Training magazine’s “2018 Training Top 125.” This recognition is a result of the company’s training and workforce development programs and marks Shaw’s 14th consecutive year on the list.

“Education and training are instrumental to how Shaw helps create a better future for associates, customers, communities and the company,” said Danny Crutchfield, Shaw’s director of corporate training and organizational development, who also leads the Shaw Flooring Network. “It’s a critical component in helping associates and customers reach their full potential and succeed amidst an ever-changing industry.”

Each year, millions of people step onto new Shaw products. The company makes the foundations where families grow, patients heal, students learn, thinkers create and champions are made.

Recognizing the central role the company plays in homes and businesses around the world, Shaw provides more than 1 million hours of training and education annually to its associates—who range from machinists and marketers, scientists and salespeople to designers, nurses and network administrators—to promote innovation, fresh thinking and dedication to quality.

Shaw’s education and training efforts extend beyond its approximately 22,000 associates to customers, the community and the future workforce through expansive science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.

Additionally, Shaw recognizes its retailers’ success is inextricably linked to training and support. The company has designed comprehensive and customized educational programs to help retailers meet their business objectives. More than 15,000 customers engage with the Shaw Learning Academy each year through regional training, online sessions, markets, the Shaw Flooring Network Convention and other offerings in addition to extensive continuing education opportunities offered to commercial customers worldwide.

Training Top 125 ranks companies’ excellence and commitment to employer-sponsored training and development programs. The Top 125 ranking is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors, including financial investment in employee development, the scope of development programs and how closely development efforts are linked to business goals and objectives.

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Investing in RSAs pays dividends

January 22/29, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 6

By K.J. Quinn

 

Let’s say you are a floor covering store owner and your business is running smoothly. The latest advertising campaign is reeling in customers and sales are holding steady, if not thriving. Then, your top salesperson quits.

After trying in vain to talk him out of leaving, you quickly write up a help wanted ad and place it online and/or in a local newspaper, or attempt to recruit someone from a competitor. Your hope is a superstar salesperson will soon call and everything will return to normal. But the reality is it could take months or even a few years to find one person to replace the success and sales volume achieved by that salesperson, industry members say.

“Unfortunately, this industry does not do a good job of attracting younger, more aggressive, design-oriented people,” said Steve Lewis, president, Lewis Floor & Home, Northbrook, Ill. “Our industry needs less product training and more design and sales training.”

By properly investing in sales training, dealers not only put their team in a position to put their best foot forward, but provide a cushion to absorb the blow of losing a valuable performer. “If you are truly committed to sales training, it’s never ending,” noted Olga Robertson, president, FCA Network. “With the plethora of products today and 90% of consumers doing research online, the retail salesperson needs to be armed with all the tools available to win the sale.”

Characteristics of a successful salesperson

The list is long, experts say, but it often starts with being honest and possessing integrity, reliability, punctuality, patience and good judgment. “It’s not always product or PK training,” FCA’s Robertson said. “It’s more about building rapport and guiding the customer to the product that best suits her needs.”

The best salespeople possess excellent communication skills and the ability to quickly make customers feel comfortable. “One of our salespeople is a real ‘people’ person, so that’s a great asset,” noted Lola Ledebur, co-founder of Carpetime, Grand Junction, Colo.

One thing that can’t be taught, or changed overnight, is a salesperson’s attitude and personality. “You can’t really teach personality,” said Kim Campbell, owner, Campbell’s Carpet, Port Washington, N.Y. “We deal with many designers, so you must be careful not to step on their toes and be respectful of their opinions.”

Salespeople also have to pay careful attention when sizing up a customer’s needs so they can recommend the appropriate styles and floors. “The key is teaching them to listen and really pay attention to what the customer is telling them,” said Matt Pfeiffer, owner, Northern Flooring & Interiors, Lake Orion, Mich. “If you’re listening and you get that window where you can offer a solution for the problem the customer is trying to solve, then ask for the sale.”

Salespeople should thoroughly understand the store’s products and services and come across as knowledgeable and professional. “Given the breadth of products we carry,” Lewis Floor & Home’s Lewis said, “it is a never-ending battle to keep the salespeople informed of all the new products and changes.”

Success in sales is often measured in dollars, and retail is no exception. Salespeople are challenged every day in an increasingly competitive environment. “Most customers visit more than one store,” said Tony Greco, vice president, CAP Carpet, St. Paul, Minn. “You have to be the one that wants their business, go after it [and] follow up.”

Utilize training to improve selling skills

Successful retailers spend their time and capital wisely to find and keep the right salespeople. This makes it imperative to focus their resources on the front end of the business and develop an effective sales staff to keep customers coming back.

“A consistent, ongoing [training] program gives sales consultants confidence in most situations,” CAP Carpet’s Greco said. “A confident salesperson has less fear and is able to consistently improve and close sales.”

It’s rare for a new salesperson to achieve success right out of the gate. Many may not achieve their full potential until after training and learning the ropes from experienced professionals around them. “We put our new salespeople through a relatively intensive sales and product training when they start,” Lewis Floor & Home’s Lewis said. “However, to be honest, much of it is done by the local reps who really don’t do more than pitch their products.”

Buying groups and trade associations offer training classes that teach, among other things, basic and advanced selling methods and how to maximize their sales and marketing tools. By utilizing sales training techniques, “successful salespeople become more adapt at selling both solutions and visions to the customer rather than constantly resorting to selling on price and specifications,” said Tom Jennings, vice president of professional development, WFCA. “They learn to sell as customers want to buy.”

WFCA offers online training through its University, plus weekly video tips and custom on-site training events for members. “One of the most popular sessions is titled, ‘Installation for Salespeople,’ which focuses on ways to build value into the service element of a sales presentation from the moment RSAs and potential customers are first introduced,” Jennings explained.

FCA Network trains its salespeople how to compete with home centers and deal with customers who shop online and by price. “We also work on phone techniques—role play—to enable them to handle price objections or pricing inquiries over the phone,” Robertson said. “Ultimately, the goal is to get them in the store, not negotiate price over the phone.”

Overall, industry members agree if salespeople know their products well, understand their customers’ needs and are proficient at delivering product at minimum hassle and discomfort to the consumer, then dealers will be successful. “Knowledge is power,” Robertson said. “It builds confidence.”

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Certified Floorcovering Installers Association goes global

CFIForney, Texas—Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) has expanded its presence in China, according to Robert Varden, vice president. Negotiations to establish a CFI satellite operation in Shanghai have been underway since last summer.

“A year’s worth of planning, negotiating and research has culminated in a partnership with the Shanghai Chemical Building Materials Trade Association (SCBMTA),” Varden said. “Our new arrangement in China represents CFI’s first free-standing overseas operation.”

The new facility, which will be overseen by Chun Yuan Qi, director of the SCBMTA, opened its doors on Sept. 8. Qi will report Varden, who will remain based at CFI headquarters stateside. Introductory installation classes at the new facility are slated to commence in the fourth quarter.

The initial lineup of coursework will include carpet, tile and stone. All classes will be taught by certified CFI instructors who were trained by lead instructors from the United States. The Asian outpost will be offering a full slate of CFI classes in all categories of flooring by the first quarter of 2018.

“CFI has experienced phenomenal growth over the past few years,” Varden said. “We are clearly capturing the attention of the industry and making great progress toward resolving its installation crisis.”

Varden said the critical shortage of trained installers extends well beyond the United States and affirmed CFI’s commitment to addressing the problem everywhere that it exists. “We are very excited about the opportunity not only to work with and train new students overseas, but to also continue to expand CFI’s presence throughout the world.”

For more information, visit cfiinstallers.org, email clewis@cfiinstallers.org or call 816-231-4646.

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INSTALL sees continued growth in Southern U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CFI ‘steps up its game’ as installation issues linger

August 28/September 4: Volume 32, Issue 6

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.56.49 AMOrlando, Fla.—After two years at a Courtyard Marriott in Grapevine, Texas, the Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) moved its annual convention to the expansive Rosen Shingle Creek, an opulent 255-acre, AAA Four Diamond resort with 500,000 square feet of meeting/ event space.

The change in venue was no accident. “It was time to step up our game,” Robert Varden, vice president of the CFI division of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), told FCNews.

Since merging with the CFI three years ago, the WFCA—led by Scott Humphrey, CEO—has championed the installation trade for its craftsmanship and value to the flooring industry. Moving the 24th annual CFI convention to Rosen Shingle Creek was a nod to the CFI’s importance. “This is a phenomenal team, and the core of this team has been consistent,” Humphrey told members.

As it enters its quarter century, CFI is growing and evolving. It is no longer primarily a training and certification body. Given the current lack of qualified installers, CFI is actively recruiting the next generation. It was noted during the conference that the average age of a flooring installer working today is 56 years old. To canvas for new blood, the association has made recruiting, training and deploying new installers a major priority.

“These programs are really starting to take off,” Varden said, noting that CFI in the past year has graduated three classes in Cincinnati and four in Forney, Texas (about 40 in all). Some of these students had no previous training in installation; however, after five weeks of rigorous course work and mentoring, they were able to graduate and start working. “When these students leave they are really proud,” Varden said. “In fact, their chests are about 3 inches bigger when they complete the course. The industry is in desperate need of recruiting and we needed to add to our program and be able to take someone who had no Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 11.55.28 AMexperience whatsoever and turn him into an installer. We have shown significant growth both in the trainings we are doing, which can be done anywhere in the country, and the exposure to the brand.”

On the whole, things are looking up for CFI. “I told our staff the time is now to up our game,” Varden said. “Our vendor participation rate is growing, and attendance at the show is up. We’re trying to attract more segments of the industry here. Our convention is a big deal—it really gives us exposure to the industry.”

Industry observers applauded CFI for its efforts to bring more awareness to this critical issue. “CFI is at the forefront with the installation issue,” said Don Styka, director of field services for Tarkett North America. “CFI has set a training protocol that you’re going to learn the right way to do things. They teach people how to use the tools properly, what tools to use, etc.—and that’s half the battle.”

Other highlights
CFI organizers expanded the scope of its educational programming by moving beyond installation-related matters. For example, WFCA’s Humphrey led a session titled, “Leadership Strategies That Work,” and Jeff King, counsel for the WFCA, conducted a presentation, “Are You Ready for an Immigration Raid or Audit?”

In his talk, King noted there are 27 million foreign-born workers in the U.S. today, or nearly 17% of the workforce; 13% of construction workers, which includes flooring installers, are undocumented. “What would we do without them?” King asked. “You think you have installation issues now? Without them, there would be no installation.”

King said President Trump has committed to adding 10,000 investigators to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) taskforce to go after undocumented immigrants; he noted that the construction industry is a likely target.

CFI announced it is in the process of finalizing a contract to open a new training facility in Shanghai, China. The office is expected to open Sept. 4.

Lastly, CFI announced several personnel changes. Jill Sheets, who served as the association’s training advisor, has left the group for an opportunity outside the flooring industry. Her replacement will handle outreach and recruiting. And in a related move, CFI is closing its Lenexa, Kan., facility and moving all operations to Forney, where its main training facility is based.

 

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Department of Veteran Affairs adopts INSTALL certification standards

By John T. McGrath Jr.

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 10.32.25 AMThe International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL) has strengthened its partnership with the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The goal is to ensure floor covering is specified and installed in a way that minimizes product failures in VA facilities across the U.S.

The VA actively strives for the highest level of construction and installation standards across its thousands of facilities. From the foundation to the roof, its facility managers, employees and patients can’t afford costly mistakes.

“Like any other industry that owns and operates institutional buildings, we have a long history of flooring failure,” said Orest Burdiak, principal interior designer at the VA. “From poor floor prep to improper testing for moisture to inadequate moisture mitigation, there has been a laundry list of issues across hundreds of facilities.”

While some of these issues were a result of faulty products, the vast majority of failures were the direct result of improper or substandard installation, research shows. Some of this is also a direct result of cost saving measures. As a government entity, the VA has a fiduciary duty to the American public when it comes to spending.

“The VA was often stuck working with a contractor that satisfied the product and materials specification standards but wasn’t able to do the job right,” said Andy Silins, co-chairman of INSTALL, and a U.S. Marine. “One way the VA has changed this is through a strategic partnership with INSTALL. This beneficial partnership has changed the way floor covering products are specified and installed at many facilities around the country.”

As an association that includes major flooring manufacturers, contractors and professional installers across the U.S. and Canada, INSTALL’s curriculum consists of a comprehensive training and certification program for floor covering installers. It also provides the only additional, extended, free, non-proprietary and third-party installation warranty on labor in the industry.

The quality of INSTALL’s programming and warranty are such that the Department of Veteran Affairs adopted INSTALL certification standards into its Section 09 68 00 Carpeting, Section 09 65 19 Resilient Tile Flooring and Section 09 68 21 Athletic Carpeting. This effectively directs that every VA carpet, resilient tile and athletic carpeting job specified must be completed by a flooring installer that meets/exceeds the INSTALL specifications.

“We might be a non-proprietary organization that doesn’t endorse specific products or manufacturers, but what we do support is specification and performance,” Burdiak said. “From our first meeting with INSTALL at NeoCon to now, we are extremely impressed with the guarantee, training and requirements that members of INSTALL have to meet. This directly impacted our certification standards and specification language.”

The revised VA master specifications language regarding flooring installation underscores the organization’s determination that only a flooring contractor who employs an INSTALL-certified workforce is qualified enough to perform work for the VA. “The fact that INSTALL contractors can show proof of training and certification and, in some cases, offer the INSTALL warranty on labor proves up front that they are working with dependable and professional contractors,” Silins said.

The adopted language for carpet, resilient tile and athletic carpeting requires floor covering contractors to specialize in installation, have a minimum of three years experience and employ flooring installers who have retained and currently hold an INSTALL certification or a certification from a comparable certification program. Additionally, installers working on the project must have completed a Department of Labor approved four-year apprenticeship program and have career-long training, manufacturer-endorsed training and a fundamental journeyman skills certification.

INSTALL contractors are already benefitting from the partnership with the VA. INSTALL Warranty Contractor Master Craft Flooring, for example, has completed multiple projects over the course of several years. The company was recently awarded a bid through a local contractor joint venture to handle a sizable flooring installation in the Veterans Rehabilitation Clinic in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“At the end of the day, we want to get what we pay for,” Burdiak said. “I haven’t heard of any flooring failures on large projects since our relationship started, and while it’s tough to oversee and monitor small projects across thousands of facilities, the benefit to our employees, patients and bottom line has been immediate and profound.”

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system. The sprawling organization includes 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, domiciliaries, readjustment counseling centers and other facilities throughout the U.S.

With more than 300 master construction specifications for new projects, it is also one of the largest sources of construction spending and job creation in the country. Total major and minor project spending reached $1.855 billion in 2016, according to the 2017 VA Budget in Brief, and there were more than 1,930 jobs available for bid as of spring 2016.