We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the flooring installation crisis currently affecting the industry, and I’m sure we’re going to be talking about it for months and months to come. I have received numerous phone calls, e-mails and voicemails from installers and contractors hungry to share their views—just happy that people are finally listening.
I frankly haven’t been able to keep up with all of it. In fact, I have a backlog of phone numbers and e-mails in a folder marked “respond back soon” Don’t mistake this as complaining. I am extremely happy that so many readers are reaching out and sharing their opinions. If I haven’t gotten back to you yet? Don’t worry. I will.
I’d like to look at the installation crisis from a different perspective this month. Usually when we talk about how a lack of qualified installers is hitting the industry hard, we treat it as a global issue, as though every city and every town is being affected equally. That’s not exactly true.
Kelly Link, owner/installer of Kelly Link Floorcovering in Phillipsburg, Kans., sat down with me at TISE (The International Surface Event) in Las Vegas to share his views on the brain-drain that’s happening in rural communities as well.
“There are no new people coming up in the trade out here, and it’s going to be a real problem soon. Even if new installers start coming back into the industry, do you think they’re going to want to live and work in a smaller town—or the city?”
He said rural areas are full of opportunity, for those who can appreciate the slower pace. “What needs to happen is the installers living out in cities like Omaha, Kansas City and Denver need to get tired of the rat race and decide they want to raise a family in a rural setting. There are lots of opportunities out here, and they will get jobs. But just taking the step of moving out here requires a very different mindset for a lot of people.”
While he looks at the issue from a regional perspective, Link also understands the importance of training installers no matter where in the country they are. “The quality of workmanship is definitely going down, and that needs to be addressed. It all comes down to this: If you do good work, you’ll always have work to do.”
I want to thank Kelly Link for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me at the show. And I also want to thank all of you for your continued passion and interest. I look forward to hearing from you.