According to Jim Walker, CEO of the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), the CFI 21st Convention was a smashing success.

“There’s nothing like a CFI Convention," he said. "It’s the greatest family reunion in the flooring industry. The excitement, the enthusiasm to learn and the energy to make new things happen are the major elements of the convention. From Washington, California, New Hampshire, Florida, South Africa and all parts in between, the attendees all remarked that they “got” what they came for; to have a good time and return home more knowledgeable."

Held Sept 5 & 6 in New Orleans, the convention featured seminars and hands-on workshops taught by industry professionals and networking opportunities. 

Prior to the start of the convention, the CFI board met, followed by the CFI certification team annual meeting. This was a brainstorming session to review and revise the training as needed. New ideas to reach more installers will be implemented, according to Walker. The Team consists of 78 full-time members with over 300 who assist in various sections of the country.

Robert Varden, executive director, welcomed the guests on Friday morning and thanked the members of the press for their attendance; the CFI associates for their contributions to the success of the event; and the annual commemorative convention jacket that was met with overwhelming satisfaction by the attendees. “The CFI jacket is highly regarded by our members and worn proudly throughout the year. We know this has been a part of the convention for 21 years and our members told us how much they look forward to the jacket. We appreciate the contributions from the manufacturers that make this possible."

The Chris Davis Award is presented in his memory to recognize an individual who promotes and is dedicated to quality flooring installation. This year's recipient is Tom Jennings who goes above and beyond to stress the value that professional flooring installation brings to the customer, according to Walker. Jennings is well known for his work with dealers and installers promoting installation training. With his background in the retail business, Jennings knows the value of qualified flooring installers to satisfy the customers. He is currently vice president of member services of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA).

The annual Charles R. Gress Awards were presented by Bob Gillespie, past president. “It is a humbling experience to present these awards each year as I remember when I was the recipient and how much it meant to me. Those who receive the Gress Award which is the highest award that can be achieved by a flooring installer in this industry do not know until their names are called at convention. This year the awards went to Bryan Artioli of Tennessee; Scott Ballard of Maryland and Michael Buckhardt of Indiana. These three individuals are dedicated members of the CFI Certification team and promote the organization in their local areas. They have gone above and beyond what is requested of them to share the value of CFI."

Jennifer Hughes, program director of The International Surfaces Event (TISE) shared the program outlines for both the East and West events. She generated excitement in the room when she announced the winner of the Hanley Wood scholarship to the West event. “Jay Zurn, owner of Precision Surfaces in Slinger, Wis. is the winner to an all-expense paid trip to the event, Jan. 20 to 23, 2015. We know you will enjoy your time at the TISE West show. There is so much to do and see this year with more training, exhibits and seminars. We work the entire year to make The International Surface Event a show to remember.”

“CFI greatly appreciates the support of Hanley Wood and will be conducting two training events at the show,” said Walker. The events focus on hands-on training. This year, CFI presents a residential-commercial resilient training and certification and a patterned-carpet workshop. Space is limited and registration is required online. The events filled up quickly last year as the TISE event is one where installers can receive their CFI certifications as well as be a part of all the show offers.”

“Taylor Tools and Personna donated a tool for every installer present,” said Varden, executive director. "Many manufacturers donated gifts and shared their knowledge with our group. It puts the members on the cutting edge of what is new in the industry that they can share with their chapter members and friends when they return home.”

The Manufacturer Showcase presented by the jacket sponsors included ArmorLock Industries, Armstrong, Crain, Gundlach, Mohawk, Pak-Lite, Personna, Powernail, Sponge Cushion, Spray-Lock, Tarkett, Taylor Tools, TISE, TRAXX, Wagner Industries, World Floor Covering Association, Floor Covering Installer (FCI), Floor Trends, Floor Covering News, Floor Covering Weekly, Floor Focus, ProInstaller Magazine and the Floor Pro.

CFI Convention seminars included:

The Science of the Correct Adhesive presented by Tim Provence and Tony Pastrana of Armstrong, Joe Cea of Congoleum, Dick Schmidt of Tarkett and Scott Parks of Tri-West.

Moisture Testing for Wood and Concrete and how this Relates to Flooring by Jason Spangler of Wagner Meters.

Mechanically Fastened and Glue-Down Wood Installation Workshop by Bob Gillespie, Tony Pastrana and Tim Provence

Water-based Acrylic Spray Adhesives, Saving Time and Money on Resilient Flooring Installations by Donald Hamm, Spray-Lock

Selling Flooring Installation in Today’s Market by Walker

Woven and Patterned Carpet Workshop by Varden

The Installation Business: Are You Making a Profit? by Jane Walker

The cocktail hour was sponsored by FCI. “Keep doing what you do now. You are making a difference and we enjoy being a part of this," said Mike Chmielecki, editor.

Also at the convention, Roland Thompson, chairman of the chapter committee, spoke about the importance of establishing new CFI chapters.“CFI appreciates its chapters and we need more. It’s time to establish one in your area to provide education and training locally. As Chairman of the Delmarva Chapter, I know how much this means to installers. Our associates are always willing to help with seminars and the local dealers in our area often host the events."

Thompson introduced Rod Von Busch who reviewed the past Chapter Awards and the training and events sponsored through the years by the various chapters. “CFI is very appreciative of the Fishman Company that has continuously sponsored the Chapter Award in the amount of $1,000," said Von Busch.

“Bob Wagner, president of L. Fishman said, “Our company donates this in the memory of Pat Fell, CFI master-II #4304, who passed away in 2005 following a long battle with cancer. Pat was employed by our firm and was dedicated to the CFI mission. He was instrumental in many of the ideas that are used by CFI chapters today and was always eager to share his knowledge and skills with others. We donate the funds to assist the chapters in providing training and education for their members.”

Von Busch continued, “First Prize for the 9th consecutive year is CFI Delmarva that receives $500 to use for chapter programs. This chapter does an outstanding job for CFI and reaches hundreds of people during the year. Tied for second place are CFI Fort Wayne and CFI Wisconsin who both hosted numerous events and receive $200 toward chapter programs. Third place goes to CFI Kentucky that receives $100 toward their programs. CFI appreciates the energy behind these chapters and their abilities to promote CFI to the local areas.”

Allan deWit, technical support manager from Belgotex Floorcoverings in South Africa shared the progress of the installation training in his country. “Our programs are based on the CFI concepts and methods of installation. We began this program with Jim Walker and his Team in 2005. It has grown to encompass several cities and provided training through the high schools and junior colleges as well. Our school graduates qualified installers annually who have completed the requirements of our course and go to work for an employer for six months to complete the training. Following that time, the employer has the opportunity to hire the installer. Without the CFI, we would not have accomplished this.”

The group visited the FIANA Convention a few blocks away to view new products and tools. “We are delighted to make this available to the CFI members. It’s a great opportunity for both groups," said Doug Ray, president of FIANA. The CFI members spent the morning speaking with the manufacturers and returned to the hotel for the farewell luncheon.

Varden acted as the auctioneer by selling tools to the highest bidder for funds to be sent to Roy Davison who suffers from MD and is confined to his home after many years of being an active installer. Davison still serves as one of the technical directors of CFI and provides installation information daily to installers by sharing his wealth of information with them. Taylor Tools donated the tools and almost $3,000 will be given to Davison from the group to show their appreciation for all his does for CFI. 

The convention concluded with an address by Tony Buckhardt of Fort Wayne, Ind., new CFI president. “CFI is a brand that is well respected in the industry. With minimal resources, you and our team of hundreds across this nation have made this happen. We have the trainers that are the most skilled and knowledgeable in the industry that are willing to share with others to enhance the value of flooring installation worldwide. This will continue and always improve as we work together. If it is to be, it is up to me, is our motto and working together is what makes CFI strong. I am honored to be elected as your President and I pledge to do my part to make CFI stronger in the future.”
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