We recently received the following letter from Ann Vohs of Vohs Floors in Faribault, Minn., in response to my Editorial Comment in the July 2013 issue titled “Training, Training and More Training.”
 
She writes, “I have a customer with VAT below grade. She went to a flooring store in a nearby town and they sent her home with felt-backed sheet goods. She called my store to see if I had the same products.
 
“After finding out more about her project I told her I did not think that gluing felt-back vinyl to VAT was recommended below grade. I told her I would contact the manufacturers and get a definitive answer.
 
“One manufacturer was clear about not installing resilient flooring over VAT below grade. However, I called the technical departments of two other manufacturers and neither person I spoke to knew what VAT was. Their response to my questions was to read off the installation instructions that I already had in front of me, which did not directly address my concerns. I was not able to get an informed answer from either company.
 
“Not only do installers need to be well-trained, but salespeople need to know about installation, and manufacturers need to provide knowledgeable technical support.”
 
Point well taken, Ann. My article focused mainly on making sure installers and contractors are properly trained, but the same holds true for the rest of the flooring industry. Whether you’re a manufacturer, a salesperson, a retailer, an installer, an inspector or especially someone paid to answer the phone in the technical support department of a resilient flooring company, it only makes sense to want to know the most information you can about the product you’re working with, examining or providing answers on. The fact that several of the manufacturers that you alluded to in your letter did not even know enough about the history of the industry to comment on the safe handling of Vinyl Asbestos Tile is, frankly, shocking.
 
Likely, the veterans at these companies do know all about VAT, and have dealt with it firsthand, but they’re not the ones answering the phones. Even if encountering VAT is more a footnote for most people nowadays, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be part of the training materials
.
We are all in this industry together, and we can either show that we’re knowledgeable professionals, ready to tackle the job and help out potential customers with seasoned advice ... or we can end up with situations like you described in your letter, where you knew enough to ask questions but the manufacturers didn’t appear to follow suit. That definitely doesn’t leave a consumer with a good impression of the level of education in this industry.
 
Sound off! Want to share what you love or hate about the industry? Send me an e-mail at chmieleckim@bnpmedia.com, or find us on LinkedIn by clicking on the “Discuss” tab on www.fcimag.com. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.