From a very early age, we are constantly compared to others, at school, at work, and at home. While too much competition can have negative consequences, a little healthy competition has many benefits; it makes us work harder, improve our skills, and expand our knowledge. I was reminded of this while witnessing the WFCA National Installation Contest at the Surfaces 2003 show in Las Vegas. Twenty of the best installers in the business took a week from their work, and traveled, at their own expense, to compete with each other for the title of best carpet or resilient installer in the nation.
As the contest progressed, I watched as each installer's hands-on project was transformed from a diagram on a piece of paper into a true work of installation art. Each competitor had his own method of working, and each project took shape differently, but in the end, they all came out remarkably similar; all were flawless to the untrained eye. I asked one of the judges how they tell the difference between the installations. "It's very difficult," he replied. "They’re all so close," he added. Every aspect of the installation, from preparation to cleanup, was taken into consideration in determining the scores in the hands-on portion of the test. Throughout the contest, the competitors stayed intensely focused on their work, despite the distraction of being watched the whole time by the Surfaces attendees. Eventually, the winners were decided by a very close margin, with the written test results being an important deciding factor. With that in mind, I think all these installers deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to their craft.
Congratulations to the winners of the WFCA Installation Contest: Robert Varden, First Place, Carpet; Jim Rank, Second Place, Carpet; Dave Rowden, First Place, Resilient; and Scott Sager, Second Place, Resilient. As I overheard one of the contest organizers say, "All twenty are really winners." Each of these twenty talented installers was picked as the best in his region, and all are truly outstanding craftsmen. This contest is a tremendous boost to the installation community, as it offers a chance for people to witness first hand the knowledge, skill and dedication that the best installers demonstrate every day on the job. Special thanks to Jon Namba, who wrote the challenging written test and designed the hands-on portion of the contest, as well as Chris Davis, CEO of the WFCA, for making this contest such a success. If you are interested in taking part in this contest next, be sure to contact the WFCA for more information. To see the contestants and their handiwork, check the news section of this issue of FCI.