Informa Exhibitions held an invitation-only Installation Summit earlier this week at the Omni Dallas Hotel. The two-day event, sponsored exclusively by Floor Covering Installer, brought together more than 70 industry professionals to tackle the ongoing installation crisis and find solutions to fix the problem.

The Installation Summit was moderated by Scott Humphrey, president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). He stated, “A lot of people have been working on this issue but they’ve been working independently and not making a dent. This is the first time we’ve brought everybody [across all flooring segments] into one room. You may think [the crisis] looks bad now, but it will look even more dismal five years from now.”

One of the panelists, Mannington Mills Chairman Keith Campbell, acknowledged that this problem has been brewing for 40 years. “We haven’t moved the needle since 1976. The No. 1 issue manufacturers face is installation-related claims and the subject has not gone away.”

Robert Varden, head of the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), said while the problem hasn’t gone away, it has evolved. “The issues we’re dealing with today are different than the ones from 40 years ago. We not only are seeing installers that lack the experience—there are simply not enough installers in the labor pool to fill these jobs.”

Jon Namba, representing both the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and FCI, added, “One thing I see is a lack of value for installers from the retailer side. Who controls the pricing? It should be the installer, but the retailer controls the price. There needs to be an incentive; otherwise why should installers get into this business?”

Following intensive breakout sessions that concluded the first day of the Summit, members reconvened the second day to hash out a plan of attack. The leaders of the Summit came out of the meeting with three items to address. First is the creation of an awareness campaign so more potential installers know that the flooring industry is a worthwhile trade. Second is ensuring that those entering the trade can see that there is a clear pathway to building a career in the flooring industry. Finally, a small group representing a cross-section of the industry will need to be created to brainstorm how to achieve these steps.

Read full coverage of this event in the upcoming September issue of Floor Covering Installer magazine.