Having recently returned from the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors’ (NAFCD) annual convention and the International Standards & Training Alliance’s (INSTALL) first certification review, I was left with one undeniable impression. At the end of the day, every person in the industry wants the same thing: A durable, beautiful product professionally installed that will give the end-user years of enjoyment.

Of course, the realities of the business world will often cloud this fact. There is still that Us vs. Them mentality. Recently, one professional installer told me offhandedly that he believe manufacturers would love to take installers out of the equation if they could get away with it, making everything a D.I.Y., slap-together product.

We all know the reality, however.Unless they’ve spent some time in the trade and built up some experience, it will be immediately obvious where homeowners fudged the math, finally threw up their hands in exasperation, and said, “Eh, close enough.”

Manufacturers don’t want that. They want consumers and commercial customers to look at the finished job, marvel at the beauty and durability of the flooring, and have the manufacturer’s name dancing at the tip of their tongues whenever they talk to their friends, neighbors and clients about this amazing product. They don’t want frantic calls coming in about buckling, bubbling, discoloration or tears. A professional installer, and the knowledge and skill he carries with him, is the last line of defense between a happy customer and the nightmare of a phone constantly, angrily ringing on the desk.

To keep claims to a minimum requires cooperation in the industry, as was evident at these NAFCD and INSTALL events. When out in the business world, many of these attendees are often locked in battle, fighting for the same customers. But during these meetings, everyone was kind, thoughtful, responsive and open. They were not only there to learn about growing their own businesses, but on how to enhance the overall profile of the industry as well.

We also believe in cooperation in the industry. Case in point: FCI is celebrating 20 years in business this year, and we could not have done it without your support, your participation and your interest. Since you are so instrumental in our success, we’d love to turn the spotlight away from us and focus it on you.

For our 20th anniversary, we want to talk to individuals and companies who have been in the industry for 20 years (or longer). We want to hear their advice for success, listen to their views on what has changed and what has remained the same, and just generally celebrate those businesses that have made it work, through good times and bad, recessions and windfalls. Send me an e-mail at ChmieleckiM@bnpmedia.com and let’s talk about what makes this industry great. Wishing you all a prosperous and positive 2013.

 

Have any questions or comments? E-mail Mike at ChmieleckiM@bnpmedia.com.