INSTALL (International Standards and Training Alliance) issued what it called a “call to arms” to contractor members at its three-day 2015 Floorcovering Leadership Conference, which carried the theme of “The Future in Flooring” at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) International Training Center in Las Vegas in January.

UBC leadership stated that only 41% percent of its contractor members are INSTALL-certified and that currently 25 INSTALL contractors participate in the Warranty on Labor Program. “Roughly 41% of our membership is not enough. We need to meet our commitment of 100% certification,” said UBC General Secretary-Treasurer Andris Silins to a group of more than 360 attendees, including about 160 contractors—the largest turnout of contractors at the meeting in recent memory.

John McGrath, INSTALL director, noted INSTALL is still an “underused tool” by the membership. “It is important to exercise the program. INSTALL is best delivered through our contractors. You’re there when the decision is made. Manufacturers show it’s important; contractors need to do the same.”

He added, “There are 25 INSTALL warranted contractors, and we want more. The Warranty on Labor Program has been running for two years with no claims. The most effective way to ensure a successful installation is working with a superior contractor” and the program is designed to set apart the true professionals in the field.

Keith Jutkins, Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters’ assistant to the president, noted that a contractor being able to show he or she is both certified and warranted “gives a good feeling to the end-user. If you are not part of the warranty program, get involved. This is free marketing for you.”

According to Jamie Gilmore, president of Pavilion Floors in the Greater Boston Area, INSTALL has been a boon to his business. “I joined INSTALL simply because I wanted to create professional, skilled installers. If the guys are happy, they want to come to work, and they want to make this into a career not just a job. That pride shows in their work.”

Also during the meeting, Michel Vermette, senior vice president of the Mohawk Group, shared his economic outlook for 2015. “The second half of 2014 was a breath of fresh air. Basically every segment in 2015 is expected to go up except hospitality, which is still strong. The recovery is finally coming about, and new construction is finally coming back.”

 Training and certification. INSTALL hosted a tour of the International Training Center, including a look at hands-on training and certification offered by the organization. One important new certification is ICRA (infection control response assessment), which addresses the precautions and procedures needed to properly control the spread of potential infections in hospital environments.

“People at hospitals are getting secondary infections from the dust and dirt stirred up from remodeling. Through this training, you learn how to contain pathogens, control airflow, understand hazards and minimize risks,” explained Tom Lutz, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters’ business representative.

He added, “Hospitals are starting to demand this, and won’t even let trades in without at least eight hours of ICRA training. It costs the healthcare industry so much money for infections, and this type of training gives our contractors a decided advantage.”

New training for subfloor/substrate preparation was previewed during the tour, but the module is still in its infancy. “It’s a work in progress,” said Mark Olsen, a floor covering instructor for the Southeast Wisconsin Carpentry Training Center. “We’re looking at a 100-question test covering topics like properly sweeping the room, awareness of the different types of substrates, moisture testing and understanding pH levels.” He did not have an estimated date of when the training will be available, but mentioned, “We will launch it when we have received all the input we need and everything is ready.”

Whiteboard trade show. To show its appreciation of its manufacturer partners, INSTALL hosted its first whiteboard trade show for companies to get a chance to talk with INSTALL contractors about their new products. Twenty-three exhibitors were in attendance, including Schonox/HPS North America, Protect-All Flooring, Fin Pan, Moreland, MAPEI, USG, UFloor Systems, Ardex, Turbo Heat Welding Tools and Helmitin Adhesives.

Schonox/HPS North America’s Heather Yario-Rice, regional vice president of sales for the Great Lakes Region, said the company supported INSTALL “because we value people doing things the right way, and this group has a holistic outlook on doing it right the first time.”

According to Jason Neubauer, national sales manager for Moreland, the trade show offered both support to INSTALL contractors and great exposure for his company. “They are true professionals dedicated to their trade, and it is valuable to talk with certified contractors about our underlayment—they see the value we offer them, and it opens a lot of doors for us.”

For more information on INSTALL, visit www.installfloors.org.