Twenty-five years is a milestone to be celebrated, and that was definitely the case at the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI) convention in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 15-17. It’s been at times a challenging 25 years, trying to make a statement to the industry that there are flooring installers dedicated to being professionals and always striving to improve. Twenty-five years ago, a small group of installers got together and decided something had to change. They realized that “if it is to be, it is up to me.” That saying still holds true, 25 years later.

CFI didn’t start with someone from an association background. No, it was just a group of installers trying to get recognition for the pride they took in their work. Jim and Jane Walker were instrumental components of the association for years, and they and their small staff built the association with the help of a volunteer group of installers who had the same dream.

That “Spirit of CFI” is still strong with members; even members who are no longer with the association can remember that feeling of “Pride” when they finished their certification. Approximately 60,000 installers and sales associates have been able to walk away with a better attitude about the industry, and about themselves as well.

At the convention, I had the honor of sitting down with a couple of installers who have been in the industry for well over 60 years and are still going pretty strong! To my left in the photo is Ken Hay, CFI #10, from Parker, S.D., and to my right is Lloyd Englebrecht, CFI #4402, from Farmington, N.M. In our conversation we spoke about the changes in the industry, from the good, to the bad, and sometimes the ugly.

It was a history that I was able to embrace, from two installers who still have that burning fire within them. No matter how old, their eyes light up when you ask them how they started. They can tell you the days when they used to hand-sew seams and “spit” tacks, back when there was no such thing as tackless strip. Thank you both for the honor of letting me sit down with you and spending a few moments to share your history. It's these types of individuals who are the backbone of CFI—they are perfect examples of what the “Spirit” of CFI is all about.

It was great to see old friends, whom many in the CFI organization consider their extended family, while also making new friendships that will continue to grow the family. The exhibitors I spoke with always enjoy coming to this convention as they know the CFI installers will listen and give honest advice about their products. They also know this group of installers will continue to offer their support.

With the partnership between the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) and CFI, let’s see about making the next 25 years a positive move forward. Also, a shout-out to John “Radar O’Reilly” McHale and the office staff for hosting a great 25th anniversary convention!