During the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Expo held April 12-14 in Tampa, Florida, I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Women’s Industry Network Breakfast as well as the “Learn the Ropes” student day. Each event was important in different ways, and each event provided attendees the opportunity to gain a new or different perspective. 

One hundred women gathered together to reveal which segment of the industry they support (i.e. installation, retail, distribution). Many stories were shared, and many ideas were offered to remedy various issues each businesswoman discussed like not having enough skilled installers or employees in general. They talked about the hardships they endured simply because they are women. While I have endured this personally—in a different industry—I was shocked at the number who spoke up and how similar our stories were. Perspective. 

Later that same day, busloads of area high school students entered the convention center to attend the “Learn the Ropes” student day where they would get to listen to a panel of flooring industry pros talk about their personal journeys into the world of flooring. The panel was a truly diverse group of men and women who represent different aspects of the industry. A handful of NWFA Regional Instructors demonstrated how to bend wood for custom wood flooring installations for the students, and they got to walk the tradeshow where they spoke with different companies about job opportunities. I overheard one student say, “I did not know this was even a thing,” referring to flooring installation as a career. Perspective. 

Learn the Ropes student day
Ben Totta, owner, Totta Hardwoods, and NWFA regional instructor, walked the students through the wood-bending process. Photo: Beth Miller.

In this issue of FCI, everyone who contributed an article did so for a multitude of reasons, but among those reasons is the desire to educate and give a hand up—not a handout. For example, columnist Kyle Hedin, owner, Illustrious Hardwoods, and host of the Floor Academy Podcast, takes a different approach to building your business. He speaks out on the importance of attending the various flooring shows, highlighting The International Surfaces Event, Coverings and the NWFA Expo. The goal, according to Hedin, is to stay informed by learning more about the industry, the people, tools and products. 

Contributor Lenny Hall, owner, Endurance Floor Co., and NWFA Regional Instructor, gives a brief introduction to the Sand and Finish School put on by the NWFA. He emphasizes that even the most knowledgeable sand and finish guy or gal stands to benefit from learning proper and more efficient procedures. 

My hope is that you will open this issue and start by scrolling to the bottom of the article and notice who is offering his or her advice to you, and then ask “How can I contribute to this industry? How can I make a difference?” That may look like you entering your local high school shop class and teaching a sheet vinyl installation course, or it may look like you sharing a how-to tip with fellow installers like Scott Carothers does in his Tile Tip column. Regardless, I hope you walk away motivated and with a new perspective.