|Jon Namba, of Namba Services Inc., Taylorsville, Utah, hard at work.|
As announced last month, Jon Namba recently joined Floor Covering Installer as editorial director. We sat down with him to find out his opinion on a variety of installation-related topics.
As a longtime installer and contractor, what do you think installers are great at doing? Where do think they still need improvement?
Jon: The majority of installers try to do a good job with the skill levels they possess. Where they need improvement is continuing education. When an installer tells me he or she has been doing it this way for 20 years, it tells me they have not kept up to date with technological changes and changing installation techniques.
Why should an installer seek training, especially when a common complaint is that being trained doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get the job?
Jon: No, being trained does not mean you’re going to get the job. But being better-qualified and having the knowledge, skills and mindset to do the best you can on every job can be the base for a good reputation in your community, which ultimately, can get you more work.
I think we both agree that the relationship between installers and retailers is damaged. How can the industry bridge that gap?
Jon: With respect and change. Retailers/installation workrooms need to respect and place value on qualified installers. There is not a one-price-fits-all when it comes to installation; those retailers/workrooms who understand this have a great working relationship with the installer.
If an installer is committed to doing the best he or she can do, and is constantly striving/changing to better themselves through education or certification, then those individuals deserve to make more. On the other hand, those who call themselves installers but don’t feel the need to better themselves and are not committed to doing a better job don’t deserve more money.
Retailers/workrooms who try to negotiate to the “lowest bidder” when it comes to installation are cheating the end-user. The end-user is the one who ultimately loses when an installation is full of shortcuts and improper installation methods, with only the most inexpensive supplies used.
What are the major challenges out there right now for someone who has some tools and training and wants to make a living in this trade?
Jon: Having tools and training are two essentials; the other is business skills. I’ve always stated in seminars that if you are a subcontractor, you are a business owner who installs flooring. Installers typically have good hand skills. Those installers you see with good hand skills but live week to week on their paychecks are the ones who need to understand they are running a business. Taking business classes is just as important as attending installation-related seminars.
If an installer understands profit and loss statements and understands what it costs to run their business, they will realize they have to be at a certain price in order to make a living at installation. A retailer may see themselves writing a check to an installer for, let’s say, $2,000 per week. The retailer thinks this installer is making $8,000 per month and $96,000 per year. But if an installer purchases quality supplies, and pays for a helper, taxes, insurance and vehicle maintenance, then what appears to be profits are quickly reduced by the costs to run a business.