The International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) returned to Dallas for its 23rd annual convention last August. The show boasted the usual assortment of installation training-focused seminars, hands-on demos and the Associate Showcase trade show featuring several key installation products manufacturers.

The keynote was given by Robb Overhold, a professional speaker and musician who bills himself as “The Change Orchestrator.” Peppering his advice with tuneful squeals and wails on his guitar, Overhold cautioned show-goers to never give into their fears when it comes to exploring new avenues for their business.

“If you succumb to fear, you will face the exact same things the fear initially promised to protect you from,” he said. “Fear isn’t a one-off. It will constantly visit you in your life, so develop the habit of pushing past it. Think: ‘I did that. What else can I do?’ If you only manage doable things you’ll only get doable things. That’s also called mediocrity.”

This year’s educational sessions included: “How to Recruit, Train and Retain Installers” with Robert Varden, vice president of the World Floor Covering Association’s (WFCA) CFI division; “Wood Floor Problems, Causes and Cures” with FCI Editorial Director Jon Namba; “Implied Warranties: Know Them or Be Liable” with Jeff King, WFCA legal counsel; “Understanding How You Are Wired” with WFCA CEO Scott Humphrey; along with carpet hand-sewing and custom vinyl inset workshops; product demonstrations from Traxx, Schonox/HPS North America and Warmup; and a roundtable discussion on inspection trends.

First-time attendee and residential carpet installer Rodney Henderson of Danville, Va., said the CFI convention had a lot to offer him. “I plan on taking CFI certification later, so it’s good to come here and see how everything is set up and how the seminars go. It helps me make sure I’m doing things the right way and following the industry standards.”

Kevin Twohig of Twohig Flooring America said he is always impressed by CFI’s commitment to promoting professional and qualified installations—which is something his store promotes as well. “As a retailer, we employ 20 in-house installers with no subcontractors or independent measuring companies. I run the crews and am also a trainer.”

He acknowledged that finding new installers remains a challenge not just for his business but the industry in general. “Until professional installation is recommended by the mills, it’s going to be hard to get people to see the value.”

During his speech to CFI membership, Humphrey said he holds utmost respect for the installation trade. “I look at installers as artisans, as craftsmen and craftswomen. When you devalue installation, you dumb the industry down—and I don’t want that.”

He noted that CFI’s Tony Buckhardt will be joining the WFCA Board of Directors so CFI can have even more impact. “He’ll be coming on in January and representing you. We have a great opportunity to show how [retailers and installers] can both work together for the betterment of the industry. We’re committed to you as individuals and fully committed to the success of CFI.”

While dates were not yet available, the 2017 edition of the show is planned be held in Orlando, Fla. For more information, visit

Sidebar: NAFCT Partners with CFI, FCICA

During the CFI convention, the National Academy of Floor Covering Training (NAFCT) was named the sole provider of inspection training for CFI. Additionally, NAFCT announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with FCICA to share resources between each other. We spoke with NAFCT instructor Paul Pleshek to find out more.

“NAFCT is a school that was founded by Claudia Lezell, who has stayed on as an instructor,” he said. “It started out as an IICRC certification school, with hard surface certification. What we are attempting to do now is turn it into an academy of floor covering training. We’re doing classes nationally, performing certifications for IICRC and developing certifications for CFI.”

Where the organization shines is “offering in-depth technical training,” Pleshek noted. “For example, we have our Technical Conference and Trade Show coming up in Dalton, Ga., Oct. 20-22. We’re working with 40+ manufacturers and associations. They will each be giving two-hour presentations where they will share in-depth information about their products. So you can come to this event and get all of that training from all these different manufacturers in three days.”

The Technical Conference and Trade Show is one of four events that will be held in Dalton that week, along with the National Institute of Certified Floorcovering Inspectors (NICFI) convention, the American Floorcovering Alliance’s (AFA) Floor Tek show and special classes hosted by the Floor Educational Guild.

Pleshek said the number of events happening at once is the result of the industry becoming more communicative and collaborative since WFCA CEO Scott Humphrey launched the Floor Covering Leadership Council in 2014. “This whole event is the result of all of us getting to know the different associations in the industry. I’m pretty impressed with what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

For more information, visit