CFI CEO and Executive Director Jim Walker and Joe Cherrito of USG meet at a seminar during CFI's convention.

The nagging shortage of qualified installers, mandatory certification and the ongoing erosion of wages were among the dominant issues at the 11th Annual Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) Convention, held in St, Louis. Still, despite the challenges many of the 270 flooring professionals on hand agreed that the tone of the convention remained optimistic.

"One could not tell at this convention that the real state of flooring installation is not a pretty one," stated Jim Walker, CEO and executive director of CFI. "My one big wish is that the enthusiasm and attitudes of the CFI installers were reflective of all flooring installers. However, the majority of those in our field appear to be less qualified and willing to work for dollars that do not pay their bills."

There was wide agreement that the installer shortage demands that attention of manufacturers as well as dealers. During a roundtable discussion with representatives from Mohawk, Atlas, and Shaw, there were indications that manufacturers are moving toward offering warranties that demand the use of only certified workers.

CFI officials also noted that they are working in partnership with other industry organizations including the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), which helped sponsor the convention. In addressing the meeting, D. Christopher Davis, WFCA president and CEO, stressed the importance of this partnership during his presentation at the leadership conference.

"The installers are responsible for the most integral part of the entire process - customer satisfaction," Davis explained. "This is why the WFCA supports the organization and sponsors the annual leadership conference. We are aware of the importance of education and the commitment of the flooring installers as they service our customers."