NOFMA: The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association recently awarded Tom Aiken of Smith Flooring in Mountain View, Mo., and Beverly Phelps and Christy White of Maxwell Harwood in Monticello, Ark., with the title of "Master Grader," the highest honor a flooring grader at a NOFMA-certified flooring mill can accomplish.

The Master Grader designation recognizes supreme knowledge of grade rules and species identification. The three recipients are the first to achieve Master Grader status since the program was implemented earlier this year.

NOFMA Master Grader Certification Program is designed to recognize highly qualified mill personnel in their knowledge of the NOFMA flooring grade rules. To receive recognition as a Master Grader, individuals must complete a written test scoring no less than a 90 percent correct to proceed to take a board-run test. Board-run tests consist of grading and species identification of 50 boards in just 10 minutes. The inspector must receive no less than a 95 percent rating to pass.

Master Graders must also have attended a NOFMA grading school, been employed for at least three years, and been a grader and/or quality control person for at least two years within the same mill. Individuals must also receive a nomination from their mill and may test only once per year.

"We developed the program as a way to recognize our best employees and to emphasize to all of our people the importance of maintaining the high standard for quality that NOFMA-certification represents," said Jonathan Temple of Cherrybark Flooring in Hazlehurst, Miss. Temple is the NOFMA member who led development of the program.

Once certified as a NOFMA Master Grader, the certificate is good for five years. The certificate will continue to be valid in any case of termination. Master Grader tests are administered during NOFMA's quarterly mill inspection and take approximately 40 minutes to complete. For more information about the program, telephone Glen Miller at (901) 526-5016.