Commits $1 million to solve installation shortage
By Steven Feldman
Chattanooga, Tenn.—The World Floor Covering Association has announced the formation of the Floor Covering Education Foundation with the initial goal of solving the installation crisis. As such, the WFCA has committed $1 million to get the initiative off the ground and has also received commitments from manufacturers and associations across the flooring industry.
“The WFCA exists to find the pain points in the industry and fix them,” said Scott Humphrey, CEO. “This industry is good at pinpointing problems but seek to solve them in silos. As such, the first challenge we chose to address is unifying the voice of the industry [as it relates to installation].”
Humphrey noted that the industry is in a position where the No. 1 problem is a lack of people entering the trade. “On the low side, we will be between 3,000 and 6,000 shy of the requisite number of installers over the next 10 years,” he said. “The average CFI-certified installer is 55 years old and over. That means that group is soon to migrate out. If they migrate out and we don’t have an influx of people coming in, the problem is magnified.”
With a $1 million commitment from a non-profit with no revenue stream to recoup that investment, that sends a message, Humphrey said, that the WFCA wants to be part of the solution. “We had meetings with the major players in this industry. All of them said they wanted to be part of the solution. But it’s not just their problem. It’s everyone’s problem. If you touch the industry in every way, you benefit from the health of this industry.”
Details will be forthcoming, but Humphrey announced a few at a press conference here Dec. 12:
- The Floor Covering Education Foundation is formed as a 501©3 with the primary focus to recruit, scholarship, train, place and retain quality installers. It is the first time the industry has come together to fix the problem.
- A board will be selected that will comprise powerful leaders from within the industry—manufacturers, associations, etc.
- The Floor Covering Education Foundation will be bringing the training to the masses. Eighteen wheelers will be transformed into mobile training facilities. There will be a couple at first, maybe more down the road. The mobile showrooms will be about 1,000 square feet and accommodate 50 students.
- Among the groups targeted by the FCEF are high school students, military, Indian reservations, even Amish communities.