By Louis Iannaco
Volume 27/number 15; December 3/10, 2012
Florence, Ala.—The Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA) recently held its 2012 Mid-Year Meeting here at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa. The event welcomed 75 attendees, including contractors and associates, for what was said to be “by far the most successful mid-year meeting in FCICA history,” according to the group’s executive vice president, Kim Oderkirk.
The four educational sessions were major draws for the event and included “Application of Self-Levelers” with Karen Bellinger of Schonox; “Welding Systems—Tools & Techniques,” a seminar by Brent Fike of Flexco; “The Risk of Excluding Initial Floor Maintenance,” led by Ed Farrington of Nora Systems and Gerry Swift, vice president, commercial division, Mike Flooring Companies, and “Is Your Concrete Concrete? – Avoiding Failures When the Floor Might Be Gypcrete, Fly Ash Concrete or a Lightweight Aggregate,” featuring Jeff Johnson of Mapei and Bruce Newbrough of Ardex.
“The energy level was high and the educational sessions were terrific,” said Swift. “And, of course, networking with the best technical minds in the commercial flooring industry remains my favorite part. I would say the IM (Installation Manager) Task Force meeting was one of the highlights for me at the meeting.”
Swift, FCICA’s chairman, explained the members’ commitment to making the association the training arm for commercial floor covering contractors installation managers continues to grow. “Our task force meeting began with guidelines that will evolve to include all the necessary things an installation manager needs to know to be successful in the field.”
Regarding the meeting’s attendance, Swift noted the record turnout for a mid-year convention is what a lot of people were talking about. “It helped that we had four great educational sessions. And I thought the mood of the attendees was great. Although we accomplished a lot in a short period of time, we also made time to enjoy some great local restaurants, as well as a fabulous tour of the Flexco plant.”
According to Christopher Capobianco of Spartan Surfaces and FCICA’s immediate past chairman, previous FCICA Mid-Years were just business meetings. “All the committees would meet, the board would meet, and that was it. About six years ago, we decided to add a second day for educational sessions so our members who were not on committees, and maybe some non-members who wanted to learn about our organization, might attend. That has been a big success.”
“Three years ago, we started planning the meeting to be in cities where one of our associate members has a factory so we could add a mill tour,” he explained. “That has added a new element and attributed to the success of the mid-year meeting. This year we had our best attended mid-year meeting ever; the attendees really loved it all.”
Mike Roberts of The Bonitz Flooring Group agreed with Capobianco. “This meeting has been shorter in the past and was planned mostly for committees and for the board to meet, plan and strategize for the upcoming year. Over the last few years, the mid year has evolved to a more important meeting for all of our membership as opposed to just a few of the committee and board meeting attendees.”
Roberts explained the four educational sessions were geared to project managers with approximately 30 or more people joining just for the educational sessions. “There seems to be a real hunger and need for more training for our project managers, and we have been able to provide some really good presenters who have been speaking about pertinent subjects as they relate to installation and to common, everyday field problems. I believe this trend is going to continue and growth will provide even more attendees for our regular members and for their project managers,” he noted. “We are working hard to develop educational programs and provide good quality training.
“We also have several new members who seem to be happy to be part of FCICA and the opportunities that it brings for learning and networking,” he added. “It appears that more people are recognizing the value of FCICA and the benefits of being a member and attending the meetings. Personally, I receive more information, ideas and solutions to problems than the actual cost of attending by a long shot. I believe most people who attend regularly will agree with me.”
Roberts noted that most of the attendees were more positive about the industry recovery with many seeing an uptick in the summer and fall. “As a group, the enthusiasm seems to be much better than in the past few years, and hopefully we’re at the front end of a growing trend back toward a more normal flooring economy.”
Bill Becker of Floors by Becker said, “I’m glad I attended the mid-year meeting. The educational seminars are the main reasons I participated and they did not disappoint. One session on heat and cold welding had great information that could help either an installer or a salesperson. Things are getting better, and there seems to be a lot more work in the pipeline.”
Capobianco noted the mood was very good at the show. “We had a number of first-time attendees and they all seemed very impressed with the way FCICA runs these events. There was a lot to learn at the educational sessions. Even experienced flooring contractors and manufacturer representatives said they were able to get a lot out of the sessions. But it’s not just the seminars; during the breaks and meals people were ‘talking shop’ and learning from each other.
“Those of us who are part of the FCICA leadership and have been to many of the events were overjoyed that the attendance was so good. The mood at our last few events has been amazing. I keep hearing the word ‘electric.’ The feeling is that FCICA is really on the rise and we’re already very excited about the possibilities for our annual convention in New Orleans in February. Mid year has become a ‘mini.’”
Roberts agreed, saying, “the Marriott Shoals was a fantastic venue for our meeting and was one of the nicest places we’ve ever had a meeting. We’re looking forward to a great convention in New Orleans and are expecting record attendance for that meeting, as well.”