At the time of writing, we’ve now hit the lull of late summer in the FCI offices. The major trade shows of the first half of the year have come and gone, and we’re taking a breath before gearing up for the rest of the year, when the conventions return in earnest. Rather than shuffling travel schedules and plane tickets for one convention town to the next, I’m able to pick up the phone for long, insight-filled conversations with contractors, installers and other members of the construction trade. These meetings, even over the phone, always leave me energized. So many of you know so much about the industry and are willing to share your perspective on its inner workings, its problems and also its high points.
One of the biggest problems facing the industry, according to what I’ve gathered through these impromptu interviews, is a drain of talent. Those installers with the most notches on their belts, who have been working on their hands and knees for decades, are dropping out of the industry because they simply can’t afford to compete with the lowest-price bids that are taking away their work. On the other end of the spectrum, the fresh up-and-comers are already feeling squeezed by scant earnings, brought on partly by those big boxes and retailers that want to sell installation to the customer as cheaply as possible. In turn, even these youngest members, who with nurturing and training could be our future experts and valued instructors, are leaving the industry for more profitable fields.