Scan this tag to hear a four-minute audio interview with FCICA’s Gerry Swift.

The Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA) celebrated its 30th anniversary at its annual convention recently in Savannah, Ga. The event attracted 115 people, including members of the Starnet commercial flooring cooperative, making it one of the largest FCICA events in recent memory.

Gerry Swift, FCICA chairman (right), at the tabletop exhibits during the convention.

During his opening remarks, Gerry Swift, FCICA chairman, struck a tone of the group returning to its roots of representing installation managers. “Our goal is to train installation managers to profitably complete flooring projects,” he said.

Harold Chapman, president and ceo of Bonitz Floor Group and the keynote speaker, welcomed the renewed focus, calling installation managers “the backbone of this industry.”

During the welcome reception, FCI’s Michael Chmielecki and Diana Brown chat with Bill Becker, Becker Brothers, New Brighton, Minn., and Craig Shannon, Corporate Floors Inc., Grapevine, Texas.

The show featured six training sessions spread over two days. They included a presentation by Sloan Bailey, FCICA’s legal counsel, on the fine print in manufacturers’ warranties; a talk by MAPEI’s Mike Granatowski about the differences between ANSI and ISO standards; and panelists Kevin Phillips of Nora Systems, Jason Spangler of Wagner Meters and Ralph Grove of CCA Floors & Interiors in a discussion about moisture moderated by Gerry Swift.

Harold Chapman, president and ceo of Bonitz Flooring Group, gives his keynote at the 30th anniversary FCICA convention.

On the second day of training, presentations included a talk on project management best practices by Bonitz’s Pete Larmore; a discussion of enhanced and upgraded adhesives with Sim Crisler of LGM & Associates; and an informational session and demonstration of cork flooring installation by Don Jewell of Capri Cork.

According to Jeanne Matson, Starnet president and ceo, the convention represented an opportunity to bring members of FCICA and Starnet together. “FCICA has been creating a very sharp focus and that is important to us. We thought our members would be a good fit for this group.”

Panelists Kevin Phillips, Nora Systems; Ralph Grove, CCA Floors & Interiors; and Jason Spangler, Wagner Meters, during a discussion about moisture and commercial flooring.

Mike Pigeon, a project manager for Floor Connection Inc., Arroyo Grande, Calif., said he enjoys attending FCICA meetings because he is exposed to new people and information. “FCICA is all about the resources for me. You think you’re the only guy out there having a problem, and you realize when you talk to these guys that there is much more information readily available. Coming here gives you a much broader perspective on how to handle things.”

Christine Bodden, OEM account manager for Royal Adhesives, said the event was her first FCICA convention. “For me, this show is about staying on top of the industry standards and networking. I can stay up on trends and where the market is going.”

Don Jewell of Capri Cork (left) demonstrates the installation of cork tiles.

The show also included a tabletop exhibition area, where both new and established companies were able to demonstrate their latest products and services. Exhibitors included Advanced Adhesives Technologies, Ardex Americas, Capri Cork, Creative Edge, Flexco, H.B. Fuller Construction Products’ Chapco division, High Performance Subfloors, Johnsonite, MAPEI, Nora Systems Inc., Procedo, RFMS, Roppe Corp., Royal Adhesives, Safeharbor Software, Spartan Surfaces, Tek Stil Concepts, W.F. Taylor, Wagner Meters and XL Brands.

Starnet’s Jeanne Matson (left) and Diana Brown share a light-hearted moment during the convention.

One first-time attendee was effusive with his praise about the convention. “This convention has been one of the best I have attended in my career,” said Nick Lauranzon of Hodgman’s Incorporated, Richmond, Va. “I can talk about problems and get other people’s perspectives, and I can talk directly with manufacturers as well.”

FCICA’s Kim and Jim Oderkirk at the gala dinner.

Kim Oderkirk, FCICA’s exec. vp, said the planning for these events takes nine months. “It takes a lot of oversight, management and attention to details to make this event as successful as it is. I feel the results are absolutely worth it. This event gives our contractors and associates an environment that is non-competitive, which is very special in this industry. Also, our educational sessions are top-notch, instructed by our members who are themselves the industry experts.”

FCICA plans to hold its mid-year meeting Oct. 3-5 in Florence, Ala., and its 2013 convention in New Orleans, March 10-13, 2013. For more information about FCICA, visit

At the 30th anniversary dinner, from left: Byron Clinkingbeard, Brian Robinson, Diana Brown, Nick Lauranzon, Michael Chmielecki and Craig Shannon.

Sitting at the table with industry experts

During FCICA’s 30th anniversary convention in Savannah, Ga., I had the opportunity to sit down with installation managers from across the United States. They were: Byron Clinkingbeard, Cornerstone Commercial Flooring in Baton Rouge; Brian Robinson, The DeGol Carpet Ceramic Tile Center in Duncansville, Pa.; Nick Lauranzon, Hodgman’s Commercial Flooring in Richmond, Va.; and Craig Shannon, Corporate Floors Inc. in Grapevine, Texas. I was also joined by my colleague Diana Brown, BNP Media group publisher.

Sitting with these people over a leisurely dinner, I was immediately struck not only by their level of professionalism, but also their friendliness. They were experts when it came to discussing the ins and outs of the installation business (almost all of them had a story about a recent job plagued by moisture issues). However, they were also completely open about their everyday lives. Despite the challenges they faced, they were kind, friendly and genuinely interested in each other’s stories, eager to share, listen and learn.

That was probably the biggest takeaway I had from this event: The warmth and camaraderie of the installation community. I had a great time getting to know these people, and I hope to see them again at future events.

Diana Brown was also impressed. After the show was over and we were heading back to the airport, gathering our thoughts, she said she was convinced on the importance of FCICA membership based on what she had seen. “What a terrific group of people all coming together to learn and share experiences to enhance their profession and career.” ­–M.C.