At the recent Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) Flooring Futures Summit, the Goodwill Certified Flooring Installation program was highlighted as another example of flooring education and training being executed in the Georgia area. 

The International Certified Flooring Installers (CFI) partnered with Goodwill Middle Georgia & the CSRA in 2020 to add flooring installation to Goodwill’s program offerings. Leah Pontani, senior vice president of career development with Goodwill worked with CFI to develop the program, according to Bernadette Fortune, director of operations, Goodwill Industries. The first round of students entered the program in November 2020. 

The Certified Flooring Installation education program is executed through the Helms Career Education center in the Augusta and Macon, Georgia facilities. Alania Lagatore, owner, All Over Flooring, and CFI #15417, teaches the flooring education classes at the Augusta, Georgia location and is currently in her third course. 

The seven-week course utilizes CFI-developed training to achieve CFI Carpet Residential-1 Certification and a Residential Resilient Certificate of Training. There are no prerequisites required. For hands-on training, students work with local retailers and builders. 

“The program is a seven-week program with the first week being a soft skills week, working with participants to help them develop their customer service and communication skills which are so widely needed in this field,” said Fortune. “You heard several retailers talk about it at the Summit. This is a passion of mine as I think the art of communication has been lost in a texting, internet world. The next five weeks is a carpet focused program because CFI indicated that the greatest skills are accomplished with this program. Students use a variety of hand tools and grit to learn the skills to install a three-bedroom apartment. The final week focuses on luxury vinyl tile, and students are introduced to the product(s) and how to install.”

FCEF Summit Installer Panel.jpgJim Aaron, executive director, FCEF, addresses Alaina Lagatore, owner, All Over Flooring and instructor for the Certified Flooring Installation program, and her most recent round of flooring program graduates. Photo: FCI. 

Lagatore’s first round of students, who completed their course as of June 10, 2022, joined her for a flooring education discussion at the Summit. Darius Baccus, Ephriam Moye and Marisha Rucker accompanied Lagatore. Each of the students spoke briefly about what they learned and their plans going forward. Lagatore provided a little insight into the course and detailed what the students will be doing following graduation. 

“We’re not only having installers being educated on carpet or resilient or other surfaces, but we’re also teaching them professionalism,” said Lagatore. “We’re teaching them how to deal with what I like to call the Mrs. Joneses—the customer. We have to be leaders in our industry.”

According to Lagatore, the students plan to team up as a crew under the tutelage of a few senior CFI certified installers now that they have completed the course. Moye is heading to Wisconsin with Lagatore to learn more about resilient installation. He will be working with an RV manufacturer while there. 

Rucker provided her perspective as the next generation when it comes to her expectations of the flooring industry, “The flooring industry as a whole would grow and be a lot more successful if there were foundations in place such as FCEF that people were giving to and also promoting so that young people know this industry exists and it’s a value to you.  If I don’t see a value-for-value proposition that’s being displayed and you can’t show me how this is going to give longevity and if you can’t show me that this industry is continuing to innovate and that I can truly have financial stability and it’s sustainable over an extended period of time, I’m done.”

“The students are remarkable and the commitment to a 40-hour a week program for seven weeks is a sign of determination to advance themselves and create, not another job opportunity, but a career where they can grow and develop, providing a way for them to become self-sustaining for themselves and their families,” said Fortune. 

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