The Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA) hosted its 2017 Mid-Year Meeting, “Discovering Flooring Issues of Today,” in Columbus, Ohio, October 10–12. The meeting offered attendees educational sessions, an opportunity to tour two area manufacturing plants, as well as time to network with commercial floor covering industry leaders.

“Looking from the outside in, I see it as an association that’s dedicated to educating their installers and contractors and having the manufacturers support that education,” said Jon Namba, FCI editorial director and industry consultant. “You see it as this at Mid-Year— there is no tabletop setting, there are no exhibits. It’s strictly education, yet you have a good number of attendees and great support from the manufacturers. They are here for the education and it’s a continual growing and trying to help out the industry.”

Associate members did have the opportunity to promote their product advantages during the “Problem Solving with the Associates” educational session. This first-come-first-serve opportunity presented manufacturers a three-minute window to promote their latest products and services from the angle of how they solve a problem for the installer.

A panel discussion, “Nasty Things on the Surface,” moderated by Don Styka, direct of field services, Tarkett, showcased how contractors corrected flooring problems through project case studies and tricks of the trade. Panelists included Wilmer Pressel, labor services manager, Inside Edge Commercial Interior Services; David Stowell, technical director, HPS Shönox; Charlie Nielsen, OEM and sales/technical manager, MAPEI; Tony Dominguez, technical services manager, CIM, of GCP Applied Technologies; Ric Pleis of Floor Connection; and Tim Mullinax, installation manager, CIM, Spectra Contract Flooring.

“Behind Sustainability,” presented by Rahul Dhavalikar of Roppe, offered a deep dive into what goes into becoming sustainable and why it should be important to not only manufacturers, but also flooring contractors.

In the session, “Communicating Your Scope,” presented by Pressel of Inside Edge Commercial Interior Services, attendees learned how define and interpret a scope of work and how the defined scope gets communicated to the field properly. There are several aspects to consider and different phases to this communication, whether a sub-contractor is being used or the project is done by an in-house crew. Most important is that the customer gets what they expect when the job is done.

Certified Installation Manager (CIM) candidates also had the opportunity to review CIM Program modules and complete testing onsite. The CIM program provides training tools and assessment for qualified professionals within the commercial flooring industry to enhance their core skill set, experience, and knowledge base, which are necessary to successfully manage commercial flooring installation projects. Individuals that reach this level of expertise will be easily distinguished by their achievement of the CIM designation.

“We have really focused on educating and giving recognition to those contractors and installation companies that want to better their employees, be more professional, have better results on commercial jobs,” said Bill Treiber, technical sales and education manager at Artistic Finishes. “We have been able to put together a curriculum with ongoing education for certifications— a solid program available on the internet and at our show.”

Having enhanced skills to manage projects is important for residential contractors but becomes even more important for commercial contractors.

“These commercial contractors are dealing with bigger projects, and there’s a lot more money involved, so the need to be business savvy is even more important than some of the smaller residential type of contractors,” Namba said. “Your liability factor is huge, so you need to know how to operate that business. When you get together with these types of businesses in an association, they are more prone to join because they see the professional side of things.”

Mid-Year attendees visited two plants during the convention. One was Nox Corp.’s state-of-the-art luxury vinyl tile facility in Fostoria, Ohio. The South Korean manufacturer opened the plant in 2015, making Nox the first Asian manufacturer to operate its own LVT facility in the U.S. The facility exemplifies Nox’s growing commitment to the U.S. market and to vertically integrated manufacturing. Among others, the primary benefit of the site includes an improved production process, resulting in shorter lead times and superior customer service. Nox caters to the custom design needs of various markets, allowing North American customers to have access to an array of products.

Attendees also visited Roppe’s Fostoria, Ohio, plant where the commercial flooring manufacturer products rubber and vinyl wall base, tile, tread and accessories. Roppe’s rubber and vinyl flooring products are a solution for many environments due to life-cycle cost, durability, color and profile options.

“The tours they gave us and the hospitality they showed us was wonderful,” Namba said. “The thing that caught my attention at the Roppe plant was with each batch that they produce, they check every batch that comes out of the plant, and if there is anything amiss they send it back and make right. You have machinery that is 50 or 60 years old that is maintained and still producing every single day. They have efficiency down to an art form, and it’s amazing how skilled and dedicated the employees are.”

FCICA’s 2018 convention will take place in Biloxi, Miss. Visit fcica.com for more information.