Near-Record Turnout for FCICA Show; Business Training an Important Focus
FCICA’s focus on training commercial installation/project managers was in full force at the group’s recent convention in St. Pete Beach near Tampa, Fla. The show boasted one of the highest turnouts in recent memory with 149 attendees, including 29 first-time guests. “We are in the black and on the rise,” Gerry Swift told show-goers during the opening general session.
The convention featured six educational sessions, including two modules as part of the group’s Certified Installation Manager program, and three presentations on new technologies in resilient flooring adhesives, transitions and modular carpet. The trade show, which was extended for the first time to 3 1/2 hours, rounded out the offerings with more than 30 exhibitors.
Two of the business presentations focused directly on how installation managers can take better control of their businesses. Sloan Bailey, FCICA general counsel, shared his views on understanding contractual obligations. He said, “Your only obligations are to the party in the contract; the only party you need to be in communication with is the general [contractor]. Even if the owner wants something, it should go through the general.”
He also cautioned about taking on work you know is substandard. “You should know what the industry standard is, and you must follow it. You cannot say you did not know; you are not entitled to say that as a professional in the industry. If you do decide to take the risk, take it with open eyes.”
Bailey also recommended contractors always have their licenses and insurance up to date. “The smallest piece of paperwork can control your right to payment,” he warned. He also advised attendees to keep daily documentation of all their projects. “Have a simple daily report form, and keep a log by the telephone of who you spoke to and why.”
He added, “Do not put off disputes until the end of the project. Deal with problems immediately on the site. The pain you feel at that moment is going to be less than the pain you will be suffering years later, long after the project is completed.”
Mike Newberry of Inside Edge in Eagan, Minn., presented “Scheduling and Assigning Resources for Installation.” His main point was to be a leader in your company. “Always be clear, and instruct in a coaching manner. Encourage creativity. Companies always take on the personality of their leaders.”
He stressed the importance of keeping a daily log. “Find whatever tool works for you to keep track of your resources. Daily updates from the project are a must. One of the easiest ways to do that is have your crew take photos on their phones and send them to you. Get information to and from the jobsite on a daily basis.”
Newberry noted installation managers should make sure they are part of the sales process as well. “Insert yourself into the sales process to protect your organization, so you don’t go after projects when there will be no crews available.”
Energetic tradeshow. Greg Wood of Advanced Adhesive Technologies talked about several products at the show, including the reformulated AAT-370 Ultra Premium Clear Thin Spread for VCT and vinyl asphalt tile. He said he was happy to be part of the show. “It’s always a good crowd, and we’re proud to be involved and to support it.”
Ardex’s David Fabyonic, who exhibited the company’s Ardiflo and Ardex Concrete Management Systems, said supporting FCICA was valuable. “This show is fantastic and we really get to have interactions with other companies that on any other day of the week would be competitors.”
Explaining the benefits of Bona’s hardwood flooring adhesives, Dave Darche also noted the optimism of attendees. “The spirit of the people in attendance is good. Everyone is talking about good, steady, manageable growth.”
Ceramic Tool Co.’s April Short, a first-time exhibitor offering a line of profiles, reducers and trims, said she preferred FCICA to some of the larger industry shows. “This show is the right size to be able to genuinely talk about the product lines and genuinely share ideas with one another.”
KutRite’s William Hutchinson spoke about his company’s cutters, scarifiers and vacuums, and said the show was great to attend. “There are lots of attendees, a great focus on training installation managers, and a lot of people in this room who utilize our product.”
Bill Treiber, who was showcasing a range of moldings, vents, treads and risers through MoldingsOnline.com, said his company is experiencing a “big growth year” and was excited to be part of the convention. “We’re looking forward to a productive future with FCICA.”
Sonny Callaham of Royal Adhesives & Sealants, used the tradeshow to promote EMC moisture barrier and the company’s updated www.parabond.com website. Regarding the turnout, he noted, “This show has been great for us. It gives us a chance to talk with a captive professional audience.”
Sponge Cushion’s Jake Gregory demonstrated his company’s cushion systems including the Tred-Mor product. He added, “This show is good for us not only for getting a chance to speak with customers, but in getting to know the other vendors.”
Don Styka of Tarkett, displaying his company’s line of wall bases and accessories, said he loved meeting with contractors at the show. “We’ve been involved with FCICA for a long time, and we love the focus on education and bringing education to contractors.”
Tek-Stil Concept’s Adam Baker, showcasing his company’s dry flooring adhesives including construction tapes, contact films and ESD-conductive products, said the convention gave his company plenty of time to meet with his customers. “This show has been a good experience. It’s been a good turnout, and I’m happy with the presentations and the venue.”
Jim Messer of USG, who demonstrated the company’s self-leveling underlayments and prep products, stated the show offers many opportunities to make new contacts. “The scale of the show gives you a lot of time to spend with attendees, and it’s beneficial to everyone.”
Daniel Tallman of Schonox, who spoke about the company’s self-leveling underlayments and Roll and Go LVT adhesive, echoed those sentiments. “The networking has been good, not only with customers, but with other suppliers.”
Wagner Meters’ Jason Spangler, demonstrating the full lines of moisture meters and concrete testing kits, said the show gave him a chance to connect with the commercial contractor side of the industry. “When we first joined with FCICA, frankly it was mostly to just show our products. But as we became more active, we started to get a lot more out of it. This has continued to be a very beneficial relationship.”
Dave Doherty of XL Brands talked about several new products including Dyna Stix STP, a four-in-one silane-terminated polymer wood flooring adhesive. He said FCICA was an ideal venue to launch these products. “A lot of the guys here are big contractors, and this is a great place to make initial contact and get them excited.”
First-time attendee Andy Chilcote, project manager for Baton Rouge-based Cornerstone Flooring, said he loved the focus FCICA puts on training the people who train the installers. “That focus makes perfect sense. By training the trainers, you touch so many more projects and installers than if you just went out and trained the installers individually.”
He also agreed with the advice he heard during the business presentations. “I am absolutely behind the importance of recordkeeping and documentation. If you don’t do that now, you need to start. You can quickly identify problems and keep yourself protected.”
Chilcote said the mindset of a project manager is different from that of an installer, and that can be a tough transition for someone who is used to installing floors. “An installer only asks two questions – where is the floor and where are we putting it down? But as a project manager, you really need to be on top of everything and have it all together. There are lots of questions, and FCICA is where you can find the answers.”
In an exclusive interview with FCI, Swift said he was happy more people are understanding the role of FCICA. “We’re finally getting the message out to the commercial flooring industry that FCICA has a specific role to train and certifying installation managers. Good flooring contractors want their key people here.”
He added, “Our installation managers learn more than just the technical side of installation. They’re understanding contracts, scheduling and how to better deal with general contractors. They’re learning about the management side of the business. I hope the manufacturers and other leaders in this industry – the associations, groups and cooperatives – endorse and recognize us as an independent association that has a focus which is very much needed in the commercial flooring industry.”
Swift stated, “I’m enjoying the ride and enjoying the growth. I’m happy with the record turnouts we’re seeing. I’m just happy to see all our members grasp the importance of this and see this vision through.”
FCICA will host its Mid-Year Convention Oct. 8-10, in Chattanooga, featuring a plant tour of H.B. Fuller Construction Products. The 2015 Convention is set for March 1-4, 2015, in San Diego. For more information, visit www.fcica.com.
NOTE: For more shots from the show, visit the Digital Edition of this issue. Find out more at www.fcimag.com/digitaleditions.