Al’s column: Building the labor force via partners

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September 3/10, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 6

By John McGrath

Various flooring industry entities are taking their own approach in addressing the installation/labor challenges. At INSTALL, a major initiative for 2018 and beyond entails expanding our contractor base, comprehensive training program and growing our presence in the Southeast region of the country, where booming construction markets have historically relied on low-cost, independent subcontractors.

But we are not doing it single-handedly. A major contributor to this growth is national contractor Mr. David’s Flooring SE LLC, which recently opened a third Florida location in the city of Tampa with the help and collaboration of INSTALL. To increase our presence in key southern markets like Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, INSTALL has established a successful model of partnering with member contractors to open new offices, train and/or relocate installers and provide ongoing support in their expansion plans.

As the most endorsed and specified training program in the industry, INSTALL is able to leverage long-standing manufacturer partnerships, bringing together field know-how and in-depth product expertise. For new markets, this means contractors will now have access to trained and certified journeymen, and will be able to train the next generation of expert installers.

Most recently, INSTALL supported Mr. David’s during its expansion into the southeast region. With multiple locations across the United States, the nationally recognized commercial flooring installer identified Florida as a key region for business expansion. INSTALL collaborated with Mr. David’s on two new Florida locations within the past three years, which allowed the company to take advantage of the booming Florida construction market.

The INSTALL collaboration on the first two offices was so successful that Mr. David’s opened a third location this past spring in Tampa. Situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Tampa metropolitan region is home to more than 3 million people (the largest in the state) with strong growth rates expected to contribute to higher construction and development spending in coming years.

Tony Troehler, president of Mr. David’s, believes pairing up with INSTALL to open a training facility in Florida was a match made in heaven. “Mr. David’s is known for its high-quality brand, and INSTALL’s entire program is based on producing quality people,” he told me. “The programs truly fit hand in hand.”

Historically, Florida lacked a trained and certified labor pool. So the first step in Mr. David’s Florida expansion three years ago was to work with INSTALL on plans for a training facility in the area where our curriculum and certification could train local labor to the exacting standards that Mr. David’s required. While some employees were sourced and trained locally, Mr. David’s also brought talent with them from other markets. By relocating team leaders, trainers, installers and other key employees, they were able to quickly and efficiently set up shop in a new state. 

INSTALL and Mr. David’s have continued our expansion partnership through the opening of three new offices, a process that has been very positive and continues to meet business expectations. This includes winning multiple high-profile projects across the state.

This is just one step in a much larger plan for Southern expansion. Our goal is to help contractors commit to seven more new locations this year.

John McGrath, Jr., is executive director at INSTALL, the International Standards and Training Alliance.

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