FIANA Dossier

As I have searched for different ways to get across the need for improving our professionalism during the past few years, I sometimes come up blank, unable to think of any new way to point the finger at those who have the finances and industry presence to make a difference.

Many times it’s been said, by one faction or another, that “this group” or “that group” is the reason nothing is being done. I’ve placed the blame, as have others, on all of us. The apathy never ends. The avoidance of a willingness to consolidate our efforts into a single national program, to upgrade our professionalism at all levels of our industry, is pathetic. Here we are, an industry that commands, and usually receives, the largest share of the consumer’s decorating expense, doing very little to give them the quality finished product they are paying for.

When you buy a beautiful new car, and you end up having to take it back numerous times for repairs in the first few months, doesn’t that take a lot of the pleasure out of it? When a consumer buys a beautiful new floor and has to have the installers return to try and correct mistakes that were made, don’t you think they lose some of their pride in it? Would you, if you were the consumer, recommend the retailer who sold you the floor?

I wouldn’t, and I doubt you would. I wrote an article in the May 2000 issue of National Floor Trends magazine titled “Where is the Respect?” I received some interesting e-mails and letters in response to that piece. One that applied directly to floor covering installers was from an installer in Nebraska. If I were a retailer, he is certainly the kind of installer I would want to have working for me.

Mr. Jim Lee,

I am a contract installer of primarily ceramic tile products, which are my first love, but also install wood, vinyl tile, laminate flooring, etc.

Just wanted to say, thanks for the hype, we need it. I am probably the highest priced guy in town, maybe in three towns. I love what I do and over the years, I have developed the ability to deliver to the customer a quality job each and every time, and I am proud of it. I stay busy constantly, and I think I turn down as much work as I complete. My price list affords me the opportunity to do a professional job without taking shortcuts. Callbacks due to workmanship are non-existent. I make a good income, don’t get greedy, and take time off from time to time to enjoy my family and life in general. There are big-name retailers in this town that don’t even call me anymore because they know I am booked two to three months out at all times.

But I’m still a nasty ‘ol contractor in the eyes of many. Not because they know me. Not because I have worked for them. Not even because they have heard something derogatory about me. Just because I am a contractor. I have only my name on my trucks, no phone number, and this just amazes others in the trades.

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks. I enjoyed and appreciated the article.

Bud Cline

Hastings, NE

Thanks to Bud Cline for this letter. It should be an inspiration to all of you installers out there. Raise your professionalism and respect, and others will follow.