FCEF celebrates new flooring install program

Home Home Feature FCEF celebrates new flooring install program

GNTCDalton—Last week, the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) celebrated a significant milestone in its efforts to spread awareness, recruit and scholarship training for flooring craftsmen. A pilot program for technical colleges and trade schools was launched at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC). The basic flooring installation program developed in partnership with FCEF is designed to prepare men and women of all ages for a lucrative career in flooring installation.

The FCEF and its training partners and supporters gathered on Jan. 13 to celebrate the milestone. Along with representatives from FCEF and GNTC, the event was attended by Dalton’s mayor, David Pennington, representatives from the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), FCEF’s training partners and flooring industry executives.

A program like this is a first for the flooring industry, according to FCEF. It required significant coordination across current training entities, sponsors, donors, Georgia officials and the Georgia Technical College System to get the program introduced at GNTC. “Never before have we had this big of a coordinated effort to create a program for technical colleges,” said Jim Aaron, executive director, FCEF. “We’ve always wanted to see flooring installation available in technical schools and now we’re making that a reality.”

The first class is filled to capacity with eight students who all applied and were approved for scholarships from FCEF to cover the cost of the course, according to FCEF. After the first week of class, FCEF said students were excited by how much they had already learned and the job potential this training will offer them.

A current student, John Knowles, said the hands-on experience is his favorite part of the class so far. “Getting to actually do it after talking about it is crucial to learning,” Knowles said.

Ceasar Manzono, another student, highlighted the technical and hands-on side of flooring installation. “My favorite part of the class is doing math, drawing lines and measuring the rooms,” Manzono said.

The program is held at GNTC’s Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton and provides students with basic skills needed to install each of the four major flooring types, according to FCEF. While the first 10-week course is already underway, a second is planned to begin May 16. CFI Master II installer, Dave Garden, is serving as the instructor for the first two cohorts of this program and will also help to train future instructors.

The FCEF partnered with the largest and most qualified training entities in the flooring industry to create the curriculum for this program:

  • International Certified Flooring Installers (CFI)
  • Certified Tile Educations Foundation (CTEF)
  • National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)

The FCEF credits Georgia representative, Victor Anderson, for providing the vision and the introduction to the TCSG. Anderson is also the co-owner of Anderson Carpet One Floor & Home and understands the significant need for more flooring craftsmen, according to FCEF.

“We are really so thankful to Victor for bringing this opportunity to the FCEF and helping to make connections within the Georgia Technical College System,” said Kaye Whitener, director of operations, FCEF. “There were so many people that came together to make this happen. It was truly a team effort and FCEF is proud to have been there to bring everyone together to reach this common goal.”

Ray Perren, deputy commissioner for the technical education at TCSG, was also instrumental in getting the program off the ground as was the team at GNTC, according to FCEF. As the start date for the program drew near, even more supporters such as Shaw Industries, William M. Bird, Congoleum, Dal-Tile, Ardex and RFMS stepped up to help make it happen by donating materials and tools. Jen Zurn, co-owner of Precision Surfaces and a certified hard surface installer, helped to build all the modules that students will use to practice their new skills.

“We even had support from the installation craftsmen community who want to help promote and elevate their trade,” Whitener said.

After the completion of this course, students can go on to further their training or apprentice within one of the specialties to grow their skills and experience. Skilled individuals in this high-demand field can expect to earn up to a six-figure salary, according to FCEF.

“Opportunities for flooring craftsman are widespread,” Aaron said. “There are jobs available across the country and more programs like this in our technical schools. Our plan is to work with flooring retailers across the country to implement this program in schools in their communities. Duplication of this program nationwide will go a long way in solving the installation labor crisis.”

The FCEF Certified Basic Installation course is currently being offered through GNTC’s Economic Development program. FCEF hopes that by the start of the fall 2022 semester this pilot program will receive state accreditation, providing the basis for additional courses and opportunities for participants to be eligible for additional scholarships and financial aid.

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