I recently returned invigorated from two installation shows: CFI in Baltimore and FIANA in Nashville. Look for full coverage of both events in our next issue, but right now I wanted to share some first impressions from both conventions.
First of all, it’s important to understand that CFI (International Certified Floorcovering Installers) and FIANA (Flooring Installation Association of North America) approach installation training in very different ways. CFI goes where it’s called to bring hands-on installation training directly to other installers. If there is one running theme of CFI, it’s that it’s by installers, for installers.
FIANA, on the other hand, trains distributors on installation techniques through manufacturer-supplied online courses collectively called FIANA University. The idea is that the distributors will be able to use this information to help recommend the proper products to their installer customers for various applications. Like I said, two very different approaches, but in both organizations their passion for the industry is unmistakable, and their efforts to train and educate are very real.
Both organizations also understand the uphill battle they’re facing. The professionals who attend these conventions are there to learn new techniques and keep up to date on the latest technologies. They realize that the industry is not a slow, lumbering beast but a fast-moving train, and sometimes all you can do is hold on tightly and learn as much as you can as the scenery blurs by. But at both events, I also heard grumbling about the vast number of untrained people out there, who are doing a disservice to the trade by fumbling through their work, leaving messes and mistakes in their wake for the professionals to come and clean up.
As both groups readily admitted, for all the work they do to bring the industry up to speed they are still reaching only a very small part of the installers, contractors and distributors out there. There is always need for more training and for more membership. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “Whenever I get a call about a problem, I always hear, I don’t understand how this job went wrong – I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years.”
Let me ask you this: Is it still 1993, and are you looking forward to seeing the new Steven Spielberg movie Jurassic Park? Then why would you for a second believe that techniques you probably learned from your uncle, who learned it from his father, are still applicable today? If you love this industry and want to see a future in it for you and your family, support organizations like CFI, FIANA and others who make training a priority. You can never learn enough.