In August, I was fortunate to attend the annual CFI Convention in Kansas City. I always look forward to this convention because it gives me a chance to meet many of our readers in person and discuss important issues facing the flooring installation industry.

With the current slowing of the housing market, these are challenging times for everyone, particularly installers. In order to survive, it is vital for installers to improve their skills and knowledge with the most up-to-date products and techniques. This is the main objective of CFI, and they continue to expand and improve their training programs each year. A perfect example of this is the new hard surfaces training program, which was announced at this year’s convention. Historically, CFI was primarily focused on carpet installation, but have since expanded into resilient flooring, and will now be including wood and laminate installation training as well.

Countless new flooring and installation products are introduced into the marketplace each year, and these new products often have different installation requirements than the products that installers have become accustomed to in the past. Recognizing that additional training is necessary to install these new products correctly, manufacturers are increasing their installation training efforts. This was readily evident during the presentations at the CFI Convention, where many leading manufacturers of installation products offered free demonstrations on how to use their products correctly.

In addition to the installation demonstrations, the Leadership Conference offered attendees a chance to improve their business skills - yet another way to gain a competitive advantage in this difficult business climate.

During the Leadership Conference, several CFI members shared inspirational stories of how they have improved their businesses since joining the organization. One installer explained how he has used his certification to differentiate himself from his competitors, and has now become the go-to person for high-end residential installations. A leading retailer recounted that he is using CFI Certified Installers for all of his jobs, residential and commercial, despite the higher installation costs, because he knows that the work will be of the highest quality. These are just a few examples of how training and certification can affect positive changes in our industry.

Ultimately, it is up to you, the installer, to improve the future of the flooring installation trade. By getting involved with CFI and other professional organizations, you not only improve your own skills and knowledge as an installer, but you can also help these organizations to grow - bringing new opportunities and improvements for everyone in our industry.