by John McGrath, Jr.
Labor Day has been around for almost 130 years, and we at INSTALL are proud to be the descendents of its founder. It was a carpenter in New York City who understood the value of the American worker and fought to bring recognition to the skills, productivity, ideals, motivation and work ethic of the U.S. workforce.
Labor Day grew from a simple Gotham parade to an event that offers workers well-deserved recognition as a crucial cog in America’s economic wheel. We at INSTALL are proud to publicly acknowledge the growth and attention installation has received over the last few years.
INSTALL is into its 21st year. Its growth is symbolic of all we celebrate on Labor Day. The International Labor-Management Committee for the floor covering industry had the original responsibility of assimilating hard tile installation services into existing United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America training centers throughout North America. However, it quickly recognized a significant problem in the flooring industry: a shortage of qualified installers. Flooring materials were being installed improperly, causing soaring numbers of customer call-backs and millions of dollars in costly repairs. Manufacturer, retailer and consumer confidence in flooring professionals was low and falling fast.
The committee realized it had an opportunity to help the entire industry by creating quality installation education. A two-step plan was devised: Determine industry-wide needs by forming meaningful alliances with the makers of floor-related tools and materials, and support the creation of a standardized training program embracing all flooring categories. It would operate under a simple, descriptive acronym: INSTALL (International Standards and Training Alliance).
The original curriculum was reviewed several times by technical and educational people from major mills who became formal partners of INSTALL. Today it is continually updated and refined by experts from these partner- ships and industry veterans.
INSTALL began in St. Louis with a couple industry partners and quickly grew to 10 cities and about 20 partners. Today, we operate in scores of U.S. cities and key Canadian provinces. INSTALL actively works on projects, installation specifications, industry initiatives and training with its more than 100 partners, local architects, facility managers, building owners, municipal planners and government services representatives.
As installation methods, materials and technology evolved, INSTALL kept pace. It created a rigid certification program. Those who pass the test—an exam some partners say is tougher than their own—become INSTALL Certified Mechanics. This is verifiable proof of their enhanced skills.
Those who first joined the alliance simply as an endorsement to what we stood for are issuing recommendations for the use of INSTALL Certified Mechanics to ensure their products are installed correctly the first time.
And the industry is listening. INSTALL is looked to for vital installation standards advice on key ANSI committees. Manufacturers are borrowing our instructors to teach their staffs, and professional organizations look to INSTALL as knowledge providers for coursework and white papers.
INSTALL started as a simple answer to a small problem. After seeing the needs of an industry fraught with installation issues, we responded with solutions.
Labor Day is a tribute to the contributions workers make to the strength and prosperity of our country. INSTALL is proud of its Labor Day roots and even prouder to provide those contributions to the flooring industry.
John McGrath, Jr. is the director of the INSTALL program. To reach him, call 215.582.4108.