INSTALL, the North American leader in floorcovering installation training and certification, announces the retirement of Executive Director John T. McGrath Jr., who played a significant role in revolutionizing floorcovering installation training and standards for over two decades.
McGrath first joined INSTALL as a committee member in 1997, while he served as business manager for Local 1823 (now Local 251) which represents the resilient floorlayers of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. INSTALL was officially founded in March 2001 to represent floorcovering installers, contractors, and manufacturers. At its inception, the association comprised just six manufacturers. Today, a total of 140 top flooring manufacturers across North America serve as INSTALL Alliance Partners, and the organization has roughly 10,000 installers currently involved in its apprenticeship and certification programs.
Since becoming executive director of INSTALL in 2006, McGrath has helmed the organization through a period of tremendous growth. He attributes that growth to building strong connections with professionals across the industry.
“The strength of INSTALL is its collaboration,” says McGrath. “We’re unique in that we offer industry-leading training and exacting standards that are developed and honed through the thoughtful, concerted efforts of the entire floorcovering installation industry, including installers, contractors, manufacturers, and specifiers.”
During his tenure, McGrath helped INSTALL nurture these relationships to create an ever-growing training program that offers floorcovering installers the industry’s most up-to-date and comprehensive instruction available. And because its training program is widely respected across the industry, INSTALL influences specification standards to help ensure floorcovering installation is at its best for contractors, specifiers, flooring manufacturers, and the businesses they serve.
McGrath sees INSTALL becoming peerless as the organization moves forward under its new executive director. “I expect that INSTALL will be a household name across the United States and Canada within the next five years,” says McGrath. He also predicts INSTALL will expand in the area of training in new technologies, particularly as seamless communication between management and installation increases.
Floorcovering & Beyond
In addition to his dedication to INSTALL, McGrath served as recording secretary for the Philadelphia Veterans Comfort House from 1998 to 2010. The organization provides housing for veterans being cared for by the Philadelphia Veterans Hospital, as well as homeless veterans who need assistance getting back on their feet.
McGrath also was a significant contributor in creating the ANSI S600 Carpet Installation Standards and served as a returning judge in the Starnet Awards, Canadian Apprenticeship Contest, and the Schonox Worst Subfloor in North America Contest. He is an accomplished, sought-after speaker and conducted seminars for architects, interior designers, building owners, and facility managers to increase their knowledge of flooring installation issues. He also has been a featured presenter for AIA, IIDA, IFMA, and CSI professionals to help increase their knowledge and awareness of many floorcovering concerns.
McGrath says he will miss the collaboration and the ability to help others as he steps away from his role with INSTALL and daily involvement in the floorcovering industry. He says he is grateful for the opportunity to have impacted—and be impacted by—the individuals that make up his floorcovering family. From supporting grieving loved ones who lost a tradesperson to cancer or helping a young couple’s dreams of adopting a child come true, McGrath has been humbled by the way the trade colleagues he calls “brothers and sisters” have embraced him and shared their lives.
“Floorcoverers are artists with muscles, and the floor is our palette. We need to be precise and perfect,” he says. “We literally work on our knees, which inserts a certain humility into our lives.”
McGrath will carry that humility into his retirement as he moves his focus from his floorcovering family to his personal family, including his first grandchild. He looks forward to days filled with yoga, meditation, and staying in “tip-top” shape. A former boxer, McGrath sparred with professionals in the same gym where the movie Creed was filmed.
McGrath will not be completely leaving his professional life behind, however. He plans to explore teaching adolescents about the exciting opportunities offered by careers in the trades.