Where is the Respect for Floor Covering Installers?
I even wrote a column stating that it would be my last about the problem of installation because, it seemed to me at the time, no one really cared. Well, I was wrong! I received many responses to that article and each one asked me to not stop writing about the installation problem, and not to give up trying to combat the apathy shown by most in our industry toward the lack of qualified professional installers.
I also heard from numerous installers who agreed with my statements and noted that even the truly qualified professional installer often gets no more respect from the industry than an obviously unqualified one does. Many installers take great pride in their work and always look for training opportunities so that they can become even better at their craft.
Floor covering installers are constantly vulnerable to injury to their backs, knees, etc. Often, these are career-ending injuries. Have you ever loaded, unloaded, carried on the job and installed flooring day in and day out? If not, try it some time. It’s tough, hard work that requires considerable knowledge to do the job right.
Our industry could not have grown to what it’s become without the installer. Therefore, we all must help provide proper installer training — on a national basis — if we are ever to at least minimize installation-related problems and continue our growth. In the consumer satisfaction equation, installation may very well be even more important than a quality floor product.
After all, a quality product does not assure the consumer of a beautiful finished floor. But a qualified, professional installer can. Perhaps like me, you’ve seen flooring products of excellent quality that had a terrible finished appearance due to the faulty work of an under-trained, unqualified installer. I’ve also seen many floor covering products of obviously inferior quality that, when installed by a qualified professional, were accepted by the consumer as a finished floor.
Do you ever wonder how much money manufacturers spend each year for “policy adjustments?” How much of that is related to claims caused by improper installations performed by under-trained, unqualified installers? How much annually is spent on co-op advertising?
In comparison, how much do individual manufacturers spend on installer training? Wouldn’t it make sense for the manufacturers to financially support installer training efforts? After all, the trained, professional installer brings it all together in a floor with a beautiful finished appearance.
I think it’s time that each of us takes a look at our sources and stands up for the ones that support — not just with talk, but with financial help — those associations that are fighting against difficult odds to make a difference. I’ve long been an advocate for all industry associations joining together to create a comprehensive, national installer training program, and establishing a single entity that would direct this effort by developing, staffing and administering the program.
Over the years, many associations tried to do this in their own individual ways. But none has succeeded. Historically, none of them could secure the necessary financial support, and this is still true today. And until an industrywide financial commitment is made to a national installer training program, we can’t succeed.
The sheer number of stories written over the past few years to discuss the acute need for installer training could fill a book the size of “War and Peace.” The continuing apathy demonstrated by manufacturers who could and should financially support this training effort is ludicrous.
I’d hoped that one — if not more — of the industry leaders would step forward and adopt the idea of a concerted effort to further installer training. I hoped they’d put up the funds and help sell their peers on joining the effort to create a National Floor Installation Training Institute. But the movers and shakers have not been listening. Not one even so much as said it would be a good idea. None even said it was a bad idea.
That’s what I call apathy.
All the installers I know like to do good work. They all want to be assets to their employers. They all appreciate praise for a job well done. They all deserve to be paid according to their abilities. They all need continuing installation training. All the installers I know want and deserve your respect.
If the installers you know aren’t like this, you should find new ones. I urge you to support and respect your installers.