The Flooring Contractors Association’s (FCICA) membership was “in it to win it” at this year’s annual convention in Biloxi, Miss.
Welcoming 184 attendees—74 of them for the first time—this year’s convention saw the largest attendance since 2000. The association’s record-breaking sized group came together for four days of networking, education, live product demos, a commercial flooring tradeshow and exciting giveaways.
“At all FCICA conventions, we are going to learn, make friends, establish new connections, win something and of course have fun,” said Kim Oderkirk, executive vice president of the association.
Enhanced by opportunities for attendee participation and interaction, the convention’s interactive mobile app allowed the group to take its engagement one step further. Powered through CrowdCompass’ Attendeehub platform, the convention’s app provided everything from event information and scheduling to an avenue for attendees to send each other direct messages, exchange contact information and participate in real-time polls during sessions.
Since July 2017, FCICA’s membership has grown with 60 new members joining the association, bringing its total membership to 250. And with financials in excellent health, according to the association’s treasure’s report given during the membership’s business meeting held at convention, FCICA is not only growing, it’s thriving.
CIM Program Update
As FCICA aims to elevate the professionalism of the trade, its vision to be the resource for premier commercial contractors is supported by the association’s number-one priority: the Certified Installation Manager (CIM) Program.
“The CIM Program is our flagship program,” explained Mike Newberry, chairman of FCICA. “This is the only program out there dedicated to training project managers and installation managers.”
To date, 65 flooring contractors have achieved CIM designation, enhancing their skill sets with technical education, business support and industry expert networking.
“Premier doesn’t mean that we’re elite,” said Newberry. “It just means that we are trying to say that we are taking the time, the effort and the energy to dedicate ourselves to education training so that we can be better and separate ourselves from the competition. In order to do that and achieve the vision statement, we are promoting the advancement and continuous development of our CIM program. That is our number one priority as an association.”
As the first contractor to receive CIM designation, Amy Johnston of Livonia, Mich.-based Flooring Services now leads the CIM steering committee in its efforts to produce more qualified contractors.
In addition to her responsibilities as chairman of FCICA’s CIM committee, Johnston attended the convention to take part in its array of education opportunities. “I’m here because you don’t get a lot of opportunities locally for the education sessions we have here.”
Convention education sessions covered the ASTM F710 Standard Practice for Preparing Concrete Floors to Receive Resilient Flooring and ACI 302.2R-06 Guide for Concrete Slabs that Receive Moisture-Sensitive Flooring Materials. Leading attendees through a comprehensive review of both standards, presenters Sonny Callaham of H.B. Fuller and Jeff Johnson of MAPEI Americas highlighted valuable information from the material, because according to Callaham, “The guy who knows the rules of the game is going to play it the best.”
Seminars were also held on Communication and Ramifications of Specifications, Auditing Your Flooring Project and Effectively Driving, Achieving and Sustaining Positive Change.
Finally, a panel discussion on innovations in multilayer flooring was a highly anticipated portion of the convention’s education line up.
For Johnston and many others in the industry, multilayer flooring is still a category that is being uncovered and learned about as it continues to grow and encompass much more than just luxury vinyl tile and plank.
“In one of my committee meetings yesterday, one of the panelist said they spent hours and hours on the phone preparing for the education session because they all had different opinions [on multilayer flooring],” said Johnston.
Panelists included Don Styka, Tarkett; Beth Steele, Six Degrees; Bill Treiber, Artistic Finishes and David Altman, Metroflor. Moderated by Pat Kelly, FCICA’s vice chairman, the panel addressed attendees’ questions on multilayer flooring and the future of the category. Through a Q&A format and interactive polls, those in attendance walked away more informed and knowledgeable about the category.
Education opportunities at the convention were available at every turn, and as they enjoyed lunch, attendees were able to attend product demonstrations from DriTac, MAPEI, TRAXX Corp., and GCP Applied Technologies.
For first-time attendee Karl Johnson, account manager for Lippert Flooring and Tile, the convention’s education sessions and product demos severed as a valuable resource as he continues to learn and grow in what he calls a fast-paced and dynamic industry. “Being new to the industry, I can tell you FCICA has been a great educational resource for me personally as I navigate all there is to learn about the industry.”
Johnson represents the next generation of leadership in the flooring industry. For him and others under 40, FCICA has developed the Successors task force to attract and retain individuals. Newberry describes the Successors as the men and women coming up in the industry that are going to take on the leadership roles in a few years.
“There is wealth of knowledge and experience out there that will be retiring in the next 10 years,” said Johnson. “These individuals have taken the flooring industry through a lot of ups and downs. It’s important we focus on the next generation to grow our industry and continue to make it better for generations to come.”
Successor Amanda Bartik of adhesives and finishes manufacturer Loba-Wakol was drawn to the affinity group’s focus on education, networking and community service, and that it is a place to go for a younger person in an older industry.
“Last year was my first year at convention, and [Successors] was a way for me to get involved,” Bartik said. “A lot of these guys have been in the trade for their whole lives contract-wise, and there’s not a lot of fresh blood coming in. Successors really focuses on trying to change that and getting the younger generations interested in the trade and realizing that they have other options as far as professions go.”
Networking is key, and Successors serves as a platform to connect the leaders of tomorrow and help them form relationships that will be beneficial down the line. “As a Successor, you’re able to meet with and discuss the future of our industry with the other individuals that will make up our industry’s future,” said Johnson. “It’s the beginning of building a strong comradeship and a love for this industry.”
The convention closed with a Mardi Gras-themed dinner, featuring New Orleans-inspired foods and décor, as well as an exciting 50/50 raffle. Up next, FCICA will head to Hershey, Pa., for more education, networking and leadership at its Mid-Year Meeting, Oct. 3-5.