Rockwall, Texas—Robert Varden, former CFI executive director, has founded International Floor Covering Training Alliance (UNITE), a non-profit, with his own funding and vision. “I call it UNITE because that’s what we do.”
After spending his entire career on the installation side of the flooring business, Varden said he came to a conclusion that no one had yet advanced the trade. “The installation crisis is bigger than one company or non-profit,” he said. “We need a stronger, united voice.”
UNITE doesn’t ask any training or scholarship company to give up its autonomy. On the contrary, Varden explained. “Each has a specialty or mission, from training wood installation or tile installation or scholarships for deserving students. What we will do at UNITE is stimulate the collaboration, build bridges of cooperation and outreach to high school seniors with one voice about the potential and rewards of pursuing a career as a trained, qualified professional flooring installer.”
UNITE will also engage with manufacturers, partnering with them to pursue the use of trained professionals, with either warranties or extended warranties. “Our goal is to have warranties and specifications where certified installers are written into the coverage as a requirement,” Varden said.
Varden said UNITE will announce its board of directors soon and will begin meeting with each training entity to begin collaboration.
“Together with our partners, we will be stronger in recruiting, training and launching the next generation of floor covering installers,” Varden said. “We are excited about the future of our industry.”