While most floor covering installers specialize in one or two types of flooring, Roy Davison does it all. Ceramic, wood, carpet, resilient – if you can walk on it, Davison can install it. And install it well.
With 34 years experience, a meticulous eye for detail, and a dedication to continued training, Davison’s Roy’s Floor Covering Service has always been a busy place, even in a Missouri town of just 10,000.
Davison began his career in the 1970s and joined International Certified Floorcovering Installers (CFI) upon its launch in 1993. He became the Kansas City chapter president and eventually joined the board of directors.
Business was still booming in 2007 when Davison began to notice the boxes he once carried with ease suddenly felt heavier. “I thought the manufacturers were putting more materials in their shipments,” he recalled.
He then began falling down for no apparent reason. One day Davison attempted to cross a busy road when he realized he could no longer run. Then he experienced difficulty standing up from floor installations. He had to build himself portable steps to take with him on jobs so that he could get up more easily.
It soon became apparent that Davison was not experiencing normal signs of aging. He was only 52. Davison quickly saw a specialist who took readings from the muscles in his arms and legs with long needles – and without anesthesia. The doctor did shock treatments and blood work, including DNA testing.
Later that year, Davison was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy (MD) – a group of muscle diseases that weaken the musculoskeletal system and hamper locomotion. Muscular dystrophies are characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, defects in muscle proteins, and the death of muscle cells and tissue.
Davison’s entire torso was affected by the disease, including his arms, legs, shoulders and hips. At 6’2” and 220 pounds, Davison was used to picking up a 100-pound roller with one hand and carrying it from his work van onto the jobsite. Now he was having trouble lifting a cup of coffee.
Over time, Davison’s condition worsened. He could no longer climb out of a bed or chair without assistance. He became confined to his rural community home – unable to visit the city MDA Center or his team of doctors. His wife was forced to go back to school to obtain her teaching certification. Disability payments helped, but without the ability to run his business, Davison’s income ceased and his family’s savings dwindled.
His DNA test alone cost $3,000 and was not covered by his medical insurance. Medical expenses mounted. He required a special bed and chair that could lift him 30” off the ground so that he could stand up, adding even more to the list of items not covered by insurance. A much-needed wheelchair-accessible van was simply out of the question.
As the consummate student, Davison had attended a number of CFI events where he often heard then WFCA CEO Chris Davis speak about the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF).
Founded in 1980 by several prominent industry figures and led by the late Walter Guinan, the FCIF is dedicated to financially assisting floor covering industry professionals who experience catastrophic illness, severe disabilities or other life-altering hardships.
After two to three years of “living in denial,” Davison finally applied to the Foundation by submitting a simple history of his condition, as well as providing details of his family’s financial situation. Within a matter of weeks, the Foundation agreed to provide a grant of supplemental income, divided into six installments over a period of time.
“I’m not comfortable reaching out for help,” Davison said. “I’ve always been the provider; it’s always been my job to take care of everything. Plus I’ve always been my own boss. But I had to face the reality that I can’t do this by myself.”
Today, Davison continues to contribute to the industry by taking tech calls from across the United States and contributing articles to installation trade magazines. Though these efforts are pro bono, “it gives me a sense of giving back,” Davison said.
“What the FCIF has truly given me is my freedom,” Davison added. “I felt like a prisoner in my own home, but their financial help is going to pay for almost half of the wheelchair-accessible vehicle that is going to give me back at least a portion of my independence.”
The FCIF treats all of its grant recipients confidentially. The only reason that Davison’s story is being told is because he chose to go public. He hopes to show his appreciation to the organization and give it a human face so that others may be aware of its extraordinary efforts.
Since its founding, the FCIF has granted more than $3 million to help those in need. Beneficiaries include retailers, installers, retail salespeople, distributor personnel, mill employees and executives. The Foundation ensures that these philanthropic efforts are accomplished with compassion, confidentiality and preservation of dignity for the individuals concerned. Financial help is viewed as an opportunity to say “We care” to those in our industry.
For more information on the Floor Covering Industry Foundation or to help members of our industry family like Roy Davison cope with life-altering hardships, please visit fcif.org.