Mohawk U.: Teaching students to say "Yeah, I get It."
More than anything, Williams says, he sees himself as an educator with a mission to make continuing education a staple of the floor business whether the student is a new hire or a seasoned pro. Teaching he says is a uniquely rewarding field.
"That is what draws me to this," says Williams, who assented to his position after working as an instructor at Mohawk U. for eight years. "When you take something you have learned and help someone else apply those principles, it is very rewarding. You can see it while you are teaching. The light comes on and the people in you class have that look that says `Yeah, I get it.' That is when you know you have done your job."
Williams started at the school after a stint working as a sales rep for Shaw. He recalls that his indoctrination into the business was not what he had expected. "When I first started, I assumed I would get a few weeks of training and really have an opportunity to learn something about the business. That certainly wasn't the case. I just starting working and had to figure stuff out for myself. It was nightmare city."
He says his experience is still all too common for people entering the floor covering business. Time and financial pressures tend to hasten the leaning curve to the point where people are thrust into positions without adequate preparation. Mohawk saw the situation as a detriment to the industry's growth and launched its educational program. Although tuition fees are charged, the revenue goes toward running the school and expanding the curriculum. Williams estimates that at least 38,000 students have attended the school since its inception.
Although the Mohawk U. does have a classroom and administrative offices at Mohawk's headquarters in Dalton, Ga., most sessions are held in locations around the country in the hope of attracting retailers in nearby areas. While the curriculum has been largely focused on educating retailers, the success of the program compelled the company to extend its reach to new employees. An education track that is simply referred to as "New Hire Recruit College" offers seven weeks of training (including one in the field) to new hires who have had little or no exposure to the flooring industry. After the training the students are dispatched to a territory where they are most needed.
Susan McGowan, the director of Mohawk University, says the program ultimately helps retailers by positioning Mohawk's field staff as an information resource rather than people trying to sell a line of product. "The seven weeks gives us a chance to look for behavior and competency. We want them to be consultants helping retailers. Not product peddlers."
McGowan and Williams agree that the school's credibility is always a top priority. In all the training sessions and in the educational CDs it offers, there is no effort to promote Mohawk or its product lines. "This is not a Mohawk commercial and we are not bombarding them with propaganda," says McGowan. "It helps Mohawk because we can act as consultants and help retailers. That generates customer loyalty."
The following are the sessions and locations planned by Mohawk University for September and October. Check with the school for details 1-800-MOHAWKU.
Pismo Beach, Calif. -- Sept.6-8
Columbus, Ohio -- Sept. 7-9
Milwaukee, Wis. -- Sept 12-14
Billings, Mont. -- Sept. 14-16
Evansville, Ind. -- Sept. 19-21
Tulsa, Okla. -- Sept. 20-22
Norwood, Mass. -- Sept. 26-28
Winnipeg, Can. -- Sept. 27-29
Dalton, Ga. -- Sept. 28-30
Ottawa, Can. -- Oct. 4-6
Sacramento, Calif. -- Oct. 11-13
Dallas, Taxas -- Oct. 12-14
Philadelphia, Penn. -- Oct. 18-20
Dalton, Ga. -- Oct. 19-21
Iowa City, Iowa -- Oct. 25-27
Indianapolis, Ind. -- Oct. 31