We all know there is a shortage of qualified installers in all categories of flooring and tile. We talk about it, we write about it, and we complain about it. There are associations that have educational opportunities for installers and sales personnel, and those that attend are continually honing their skills and striving to become better. With the quality of education available to the industry, the classes should be completely filled but unfortunately this is not the case.

Instead of focusing on the lack of qualified installers, I’d like to take a little time in this editorial to thank all the installers who are true professionals that represent our industry and work with pride everyday. With so much focus on bad installations and lack of qualified installers, those who are doing a good job don’t always get the credit they deserve. FCI had our first “Installation Awards” contest this year and we had some beautiful installations that were sent in and featured. Congratulations to the winners and those who participated.

Another reason to be grateful for the professionals is the fact they are bidding against companies that don’t have the pride, professionalism or understanding of what it costs to run a business. These types of companies and individuals are bidding below what the value of the installation should be and make it challenging for the professional to compete. The fact professionals can still compete with low pricing means there are end-users who do recognize and appreciate a professional installation and are willing to pay more for it.

It isn’t easy to compete with low bidders. The professional who understands the value of installation will lose jobs to the low bidder but many times the end-user will end up contacting the professional, realizing they made a mistake in hiring the low bid. Many times, the end-user ends up paying even more on the backside of the installation due to the problems created by that low bid.

As professionals, we shake our heads and wonder why end-users don’t understand when they get a bid that is so much lower than yours shouldn’t they be asking why? What quality of materials will they be using? How can their labor be so much cheaper? End-users see a price and their expectations are the installation will be professional with quality materials, which we know is not the case.

So, to those true professionals out in the field, thank you for maintaining your integrity, for being visible and for being able to compete in a cutthroat market. Thanks to Rod Katwyk, 3D Stone and Tile, Salt Lake City, Utah; Ken Tran, AAA Hardwood, Phoenix, Ariz.; and my crew for the great pics.