FCICA (the Flooring Contractors Association) held its Mid-Year Meeting recently in New Castle, Del., welcoming more than 80 people. The record Mid-Year attendance included 21 first-time attendees, looking to learn more about the organization and bring some business best practices back to their companies. All industry professionals on hand were also invited to a tour of the new Uzin Utz plant in Dover, Del.

At the start of the second day of the show, FCICA honored Gary Kloth—an industry veteran with deep roots in the organization—as its newest Honorary Member. Upon receiving the award, Kloth stated, “It’s an honor to be here among some of the best in the industry. FCICA is an industry incubator of sorts. It’s good to win an award, but getting one from your peers is even better. That’s when it really means something.”

Additionally, INSTALL’s Tom Lutz officially announced the new INSTALL scholarship for FCICA’s Certified Installation Manager (CIM) training program. He noted, “We continue to support FCICA’s mission directly, which is to provide effective, legitimate certification for the industry. The INSTALL CIM scholarship will be an annual opportunity, and we hope to get many participants.”

Educational session highlights

FCICA welcomed four presenters for an afternoon of business enrichment and product installation knowledge. These included Ulli Munroe of Munroe Consulting, presenting tips on navigating a business world where four generations co-exist for the first time; the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s (CTEF) Scott Carothers, discussing the technical characteristics of thin porcelain tile; FCI Editorial Director Jon Namba on the commercial applications of bamboo flooring; and Stan Hulin from the League of Hard Flooring Professionals, explaining the importance of initial floor maintenance.

Munroe said the biggest gap between the four generations (which she defined as Mature/Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y/Millennials) is technology. “If you’re not embracing technology in your life and in your business, you’re not embracing the future,” she stated.

She added that companies need to learn to adapt if they want to grow. “The best way to grow any company is through diversity, whether that be generational, racial or something else. People think differently when they come from varied backgrounds, and that means different perspectives.”

Basing his presentation on thin porcelain tile (TPT), Carothers said TPT is growing in popularity, but installers need to approach it with caution. “There are currently no standards for the product or its installation.”

Some tips he offered: “Substrate prep is critical to ensure a flat, smooth and clean surface. The handling and installation of the product is going to require a larger crew. Follow the mortar and TPT manufacturers’ recommendations—get manufacturer training if it’s out there. Read the directions and ask lots of questions.”

Carothers added, “Don’t be afraid to work with TPT, but go in with your eyes open.”

In his presentation, Namba praised the durability and beauty of strand-woven bamboo flooring, but also offered a warning. “The most common issues with bamboo are moisture, acclimation and leaving enough room for expansion.”

Moisture and acclimation go hand in hand. Because strand-woven bamboo is made of bamboo strands compressed at high temperatures and mixed with resins, it is impossible when taking a moisture reading to know whether you’re actually measuring the bamboo or a pocket of resin. “More and more manufacturers are starting to recommend pinless moisture meters. With a pin you might just hit resin, but at least with a pinless you can get an average.”

“However, if a manufacturer recommends you use the calcium chloride test, use the calcium chloride test. Whatever the manufacturer says is what you should do. Manufacturer recommendations always supersede industry guidelines,” Namba added. If not on the job yourself, make sure the installers are taking and sending along photos of the interior and exterior, along with records of the time, date, ambient conditions and moisture testing instruments used. Namba also recommends a hygrometer, to take three readings: “One in the morning, one at noon before you go on break, and one at night before you leave.”

He said, if at all possible, find out where the bamboo is coming from, how it’s shipped and how it’s stored. “You need to know all this information to protect yourself and your business.”

When installing bamboo over lightweight concrete, the flooring will take even longer to dry. When performing a nail-down installation, “the challenge is that even with 18 to 20 gauge fasteners, they’re still telegraphing through. So then the floor becomes a glue-down.”

For any type of installation of bamboo flooring, be wary of leaving enough room for expansion. “Bamboo is not wood—it’s a grass. It does not expand like you’re used to,” Namba cautioned.

FCICA plans to hold its 2016 convention March 6-9, in Palm Coast, Fla. For more information, visit www.fcica.com.