Eighteen years ago, several flooring accessory distributors from around the United States got together and discussed the opportunity and need for an association that would focus exclusively on improving the distribution of products, methods, ideas and service for the professional installation of all types of finished flooring products. FIANA (Floor Installation Association of North America) became that association, and has members throughout the United States and Canada. The membership combines manufacturers of flooring installation products and the distributors of these installation accessory products, and through this channel the latest information and education is communicated to the trade. The accessory distributor’s success is determined by how responsibly and professionally he markets his services.

One major evolution in the last 18 years has been the market growth of the accessory distributor and the diversification of the product lines now serviced by the distributor member. This evolution has resulted in a recent change in the by-laws of the Association. In the past, qualifications for membership for a manufacturer had to be defined as installation products only. The recent change now opens the qualifications to include any and all finished flooring materials. The current distributor members are seriously looking for new products for continued growth and diversification of product lines.  Manufacturers of any type of flooring material who are looking for distribution exposure in the United States and Canada should consider membership in FIANA.

FIANA University

The results of the installation of a flooring material are no better than how the installer completed the job. Final consumer satisfaction is and has always been completely in the hands of the installation contractor. This step in the sales process of flooring is so important and we, the industry, have wrestled with improving it for years. The installer’s knowledge, understanding of product features, passion for excellence, and accepting his or her responsibility in the completion of the sale cannot be emphasized enough.

To further elevate the trade, FIANA established the Internet-based educational program FIANA University.  This program is a coordinated effort between the member manufacturers and distributors to educate distributor personnel on the features, benefits and installation methods of the manufacturers’ products. This information gives confidence to the distributor associate, who can then communicate to the installer and/or retail flooring customer. These educational courses are available, free, 24/7 to all distributor associates, including inside sales, outside sales and branch personnel.

Major manufacturers of flooring products including Mohawk, Armstrong, Mannington, LATICRETE, Ardex Americas and others have excellent training programs available. CFI members have dedicated themselves to professional nationwide training, but even with all of this training available, the industry probably reaches only 25% of the flooring installer trade. This is why FIANA University was created. This training is not a hands-on program, but rather a PowerPoint or DVD presentation of courses by the manufacturer via the Internet to distributor employees, so they can potentially communicate with the up to 75% of installers not being reached. These installers rely on the flooring distributor for product recommendations and proper product use.

Annual convention

Another valuable feature of membership in FIANA is the opportunity to have a venue, other than Surfaces, where flooring manufacturers and distributors can network one-on-one, developing a business relationship, spending quality time and working on strategic planning. The FIANA trade show offers the only flooring product venue without the presence of flooring retailers, installers, architects, designers and consumers. Once a year, usually in September, the FIANA Convention & Trade Show offers the perfect setting for distributor members to physically view new products and installation methods being introduced by the manufacturer members. The trade show is definitely a show and sell event, where special buys can be made and distribution relationships are built. This year’s show is set for Sept. 12-14 in Orlando, Fla. Visit www.fiana.org for details.

A very important benefit in the growth of any business is the opportunity to network with similar companies and their management.  Sharing best practices and common concerns within the flooring accessory distribution industry has always been a solid learning experience and many ideas are taken away from the convention that turn out to be very successful opportunities. These discussions are done in a roundtable setting, with set subjects and lead-in questions to start the dialog. Recent subjects have included: “Distributor Expectations of Manufacturers,” “Training Distributor Branch Personnel,” “Salesmen Compensation,” and “Employee Healthcare Issues and Changes.”

Through these networking sessions with their peers, FIANA is also dedicated to educating membership owners and upper management. Along with best-practice networking, FIANA features industry and national speakers, with presentations designed to inform and educate attending management individuals on current political and industry trends affecting the business climate. Our goal is to present speakers with as much insight as possible, so members have a real “take away” for viewing the future of their company and their market area.

To summarize FIANA’s goal: The Association is a primary conduit to the floor covering industry, thus the goal and purpose of the FIANA membership, including distributors and manufacturers, is to focus and dedicate ourselves to the communication, education and distribution of ideas, methods, and products to properly and professionally install all types of floor coverings.

The core value of the Association is to focus on the members’ desire to make money, save money and most importantly, dedicate our abilities to assist our customers so they can be of true value to their customers and the industry. Find out more at www.fiana.org.