Johnson City—In memory of James Donald “Don” Conner, Jr., a beloved hardwood flooring industry legend who passed away in October 2022, Mullican Flooring is encouraging individuals to contribute to a National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Education and Research Foundation (ERF) Named Scholarship Fund in his name.
“Don was extremely passionate about hardwood flooring and teaching other people in the industry,” said Neil Poland, president of Mullican Flooring. “He was a great mentor who taught many people how to install, sell and quote hardwood flooring products. He was the backbone of the NWFA. He received many awards and honors throughout his career for his contributions to our industry and the education of many wood flooring professionals who continue to work in the industry today.”
Conner, a 44-year veteran of the wood flooring industry, retired in 2013. He was introduced to the industry at the age of 8, when he began working with his father in the family business, Conner Tile & Floor Covering Company in his native Oklahoma. He served in the U.S. Air Force, which included a tour in Vietnam, and received numerous decorations and citations for his service. After his military career, he attended college and rejoined his father’s business before co-founding his own floor covering company.
After working as vice president of research and development for Harris Tarkett, Conner joined Mullican Flooring as director of product and research, where he also served as director of training and national sales representative.
Conner was heavily involved with the NWFA, where he helped develop technical manuals and guidelines, and served as an instructor at the NWFA/NOFMA/MFMA schools and on the board of directors. He also established the NWFA Certified Professionals (NWFACP) program and earned several NWFA degrees, including Craftsman, Master Craftsman, Advanced Master Craftsman, Vanguard and Ambassador.
Conner retired from his role as NWFA technical director in 2013, one year after receiving the prestigious Industry Leadership Award at the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, something only 10 other individuals had achieved before him. In addition, he was given honorary lifetime membership and certification upon his retirement.
Donations to the NWFA Education and Research Foundation in Conner’s honor will be used to fund scholarship programs for future generations of wood flooring professionals. A total contribution of $20,000 will meet the eligibility requirements for the NWFA’s Named Scholarship, which permanently honors an individual who made significant and lasting contributions to the industry. Donations honoring Conner are currently slightly past the halfway point for the Named Scholarship and may be sent to the National Wood Flooring Association or submitted online.
“Don genuinely cared for people and was one of the kindest, most knowledgeable members of our industry,” Poland added. “I’m proud to have had him as a lifelong friend. His family was very important to him, and he loved to talk about his grandchildren and how his wife, Melissa, kept him out of trouble. I will always remember him as a great husband, father, grandfather and friend.”
The NWFA offers hands-on and online learning for wood flooring professionals. Visit https://nwfa.org/education/ for more information about the training program. The NWFA Education & Research Center Scholarship program provides financial assistance for NWFA training events.