Orlando, Fla. -- The International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI) celebrated a quarter-century in the industry at its 2018 convention and expo at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel, August 15 to 17.

Robert Varden, vice president of CFI, said the association had a lot to celebrate, including new training facilities in Shanghai and Toronto. “In 25 years, CFI has become the most recognized [flooring installer] certification program worldwide,” he said to attendees during the first day’s general session.

CFI also unveiled industry research, commissioned by the Floor Covering Leadership Council (FCLC), which is aimed at understanding the scope of the installation skilled labor deficit.

"We decided to jump into CFI to address the challenges we are all seeing with labor," explained Geoff Gordon, executive director, Fuse Alliance, which teamed up with CFI earlier this year. "That's the lifeblood of a lot of our organizations. We see some challenges ahead in terms of labor, and I'm looking forward to a lot of great meetings."

In addition to educational seminars and hands-on workshops, installers were able to watch demos of the latest products and tools and have their technical questions answered.

Jeremy Key, contract soft surface specialist for Mohawk, was on hand at the convention with Mohawk's field service team to perform installation demos of the company’s Air.o unified soft flooring, which is designed to be install like carpet but without any stretching needed.

"This year we have gone to more than 400 cities in all 50 states and every province in Canada," Key said. "To get used to [the product], it takes about two or three jobs. Once they’re on their third job, installers love it; it cuts their installation time in half for new construction and takes about one-third of the time on regular residential tear-outs."

This year’s CFI event was also a chance to say goodbye for one industry veteran. "This is my last hurrah with the industry," said Ralph Richins, who retired as southwest sales manager for QEP/Roberts this year. "I've been with CFI since day one and I wanted to be here for the 25th anniversary. I certified at the first open certification—my number is 28—and I never dreamed we would go 25 years."

For more information, visit cfiinstallers.org.