May 24, 2008; it’s a beautiful spring day just before Memorial Day. Please let me stop right here and say thank you, to all of you, both serving and have served in the past that makes it possible for me to enjoy my life of freedom and run my mouth as I please. It is a precious gift you have given us, paid for with your heart, soul, and blood. I am grateful.

Out on the deck again, Janet’s garden is coming into its own, with finches turning gold, a cold beer and a nice cigar; I guess you know where this is going.

I got an e-mail from an installer in Montana, on a tear; he sounded as bad as me, or as good as, depending which side of the fence you are on. He was in an uproar about the current state of the industry, well let’s let him speak for himself:

“I am 29 years old and just was certified 3 weeks ago by Jon Namba and his wife in Salt Lake. Very nice people may I add. Anyway I have been in the trade for 13 years. I’ve seen hackers, pros, and an old installer that’s 79 and still at it. To get to the point, when I passed the certification I was really proud of myself. Now this is were I start to have some questions. So the last time I went to pick up some supplies and the carpet for the next job at (retailer name deleted to protect the guilty) in Bozeman MT, I started to tell the salesman, “Hey I just got certified!” Gave him a copy of the study guide R1 & C1. He glanced at it and threw it on his desk. The salesman did not even seem to care! Then some other installers showed up and saw me with my CFI shirt (wearing it proudly) they just gave me the sh--iest (non-complementary) looks. So, just the other day another installer and I had bidding match for this job, ‘’ nice job 398 yards’’! Needless to say, I kinda needed that one, but didn’t get it. My competitor is a hack, dresses like a bum, has a nappy work truck, and is an alcoholic. Me, on the other hand, I strive to have a nice van, be clean shaved, dressed nice, polite, honest, don’t drink and most of all am dedicated to the trade. I am trying really hard to do my part to raise the bar as you would say. They may talk junk but I know I am the better installer. Pretty much work by my self so I don’t care if the jobs take a long time as long as it’s done right. On the other hand speed is their only concern. Thus far if a customer sees you get the job done to fast they start to be leery if it was done right. So did getting certified really do anything to help me? I mean if the stores don’t care and the customers don’t care. How will this help me? Do we have to really do more marketing? What strings has to be pulled to get the retailers to hire certified installers? And most important what can I do?” Well, what can he do, besides what he has already done? He; A: cares about his trade. B: made the effort to demonstrate his skill level and become Certified. C: cares about the final DELIVERED, INSTALLED PRODUCT his customer purchased.  I don’t know, is it just me? But, shouldn’t the industry acknowledge this professional? Shouldn’t the industry insist that someone of this caliber install their product? Don’t the mills care half as much as he does as to the enjoyment of their end user of the mills’ product?

Oh baby! This fries my bacon! The mills pay lip service to getting proper installation and throw away a pretty good amount of money in the process. Wasted? No, not wasted but ineffective efforts. Case in point: in the May 12, 2008 issue of Floor Covering Weekly, there is an article titled “Mills Aid Installation Efforts”. The article talks about how some mills are helping the installation effort by having a two day training at a cost of $450 to each installer. This is really just brushing up an installer’s skills and trying to get them to power stretch and seal seams for the most part.         And how is it they determine that installers are doing it? How is it they have a hammer over retailers to make sure they use qualified installer? How is it they are helping retailers to assure they have qualified installers? Are their warranties tied to qualified installation like they are to IICRC Certified Cleaning Technicians? No! If the warranties were tied to qualified installers then the installer could come back from the training and deserve a couple of bucks more a yard. The store could charge more for the sale of the labor by their “Factory Authorized Installation Technician.” How would you do that you ask? Well, for an example picture this scenario. The customer says to the salesperson, “This labor seems a little high.” The Salesperson responds, “These installers are Factory Authorized Installation Technicians. We could get you a carpet layer who is not Factory Authorized for 3 or 4 dollars less per yard, for a savings of 3 or 4 hundred dollars, but it would void the warrantee on the $6,000 worth of carpet you are purchasing.” Which would you prefer?  

August 6, 2008

Here’s the latest, as I understand it, regarding the move towards the ANSI standards. Apparently some of the old guard at the mill level were less than enthusiastic about the installation community involved in writing installation standards. Cooler and wiser heads have prevailed at this point and there have been two meeting so far to edit the CRI 104 and CRI 105 to prepare those voluntary standards to become ANSI Standards. I think that is great. While the 104 & 105 are not perfect they are an excellent place to start. My hat is off those representatives from the mills and members of the installation, supply and retail communities who have undertaken this daunting task. Godspeed and my best wishes.

Residential installers, this is your best hope to make a decent living in this trade. You need to write the mill presidents let them know it’s important that they insist on qualified installation technicians to maintain the warranty of their new products just as they insist on qualified cleaning technicians to maintain the warranty after installation. Their names and address are reprinted after this article.  WRITE THE LETTERS! CFI and WFCA are working for you, but you need to help. The Union has pretty much abandoned the residential installer they gave up that fight and focused their energy on the commercial market because they could lean on the licensed trades to back them up. So that shining Union dream? Too bad for you residential guys. Hey, I got no problem with unions as a whole; they created a wonderful standard of living for many people, but for the residential carpet installer…….Union guys, don’t like what I’m saying? I’ll tell you like I did the mill guy who didn’t like the truth….Too d**n bad! I ain’t done yet!

Installers, when these ANSI standards get in place and mills tie their warranties to qualified installers, it means you have to do things the right way. What does that mean? Well for a start it means you will have to take a test to prove you can install up to ANSI standards. Maybe you will have to take some classes to upgrade your skills. It means you will have to power stretch, not just boot the stuff in. Use the right glue, the right kind of glue, and the right trowel. Do you know what is the biggest cause of glue failure? The glue fails to get out of the bucket! Seal your seams, ALL YOUR SEAMS, ALL THE TIME (unless the manufacturer states otherwise). A lot of you out there are going have to make a lot of changes and I’m not talking just sox and underwear. Don’t like it? Well, I’ll tell you just like I told the mill guy and the union guy. Too d**n bad! I ain’t done yet!