John West left the furniture industry to join FL Crane & Sons 21 years ago. Since then, the ever-changing flooring industry, and Crane leading the way in innovation, have kept him on his toes.
Q: How did you get started in the flooring industry?
A good friend of mine who used to be married to Johnny Crane’s daughter convinced me into leaving the furniture industry and coming to Crane in 1999. That’s when I got into the installation side of flooring, and I did that for 18 years. In the last three years, I’ve been in a management role over flooring.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the flooring industry?
The industry is constantly changing which keeps you on your toes, which is good for me, so I never get bored with my job. I also really enjoy seeing the finished project and completed jobs.
Q: How’s business? What opportunities and challenges are you seeing?
We are wide open right now, except I don’t have enough people to do the work. We have a huge backlog—my guys are going to be busy pretty much for the next year. We see opportunities in the residential side where we can use a sub-crew to get into that market.
In terms of challenges, concrete is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Flatness is getting worse and worse by the job. In response, we have actually started doing a 3D scan of our jobs months prior to any installation to give the general contractor an idea of where he might have some issues and give him an idea of every high and low spot on the job.
Q: How do you see the state of the industry right now?
It’s really good. It’s growing and it’s just going to get bigger. More materials are changing and I think we’re going to see a big rise in costs just because we are losing some of the ability to hire qualified people—they’re just not out there and no one really wants to work anymore. I’m fortunate to have 22 guys that are young, eager, and they want to work. But they know they need to take the time to train and then the money will be there.
Q: How did you become involved with FCICA and what benefits does the group offer?
One of my estimators when I joined the company was on the FCICA board, so when I took flooring over, it was an obvious choice to bring me in, as well as our division manager at the time. The benefits have been incredible. You have a huge outsourcing of resources and I go to several of the guys that I’ve met over the years. And we look forward to seeing each and every one of them at the conventions. I can count on any of these guys, or Kim Oderkirk, or anyone for that matter.