At the CFI (International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association) convention in August, a third generation installer stopped me in my tracks with a pointed question. "How," he asked, "can we attract more new people into installation?" I would add, "How can we attract more new people into every industry segment? A few weeks later, four major trade organizations announced they were collaborating to offer two free events for tile professionals that included "Embracing Change in the Tile Industry" and "Tile Trends, Technology & Myths." This, too, raises a question: "Why can't our industry associations combine their resources and people to increase education?"

Those who recognize the outstanding opportunities for today's young men and women in all parts of the industry are the first to admit that we are not getting the message across. Personnel recruiters are asleep at the switch when it comes to bringing in candidates for installation, sales and marketing jobs. The industry has done a lousy job of getting the message of job opportunities to prospects.

Recently I wrote a column on the findings of one of the largest providers of employees. It listed the five top areas that lacked people to fill available jobs. Number one is sales and marketing; number five is technicians (installation and floor care). That column drew a huge response.

Now, let's share a dream and seriously explore how we can get the word out to attract able and willing prospects for these positions. I am the first to admit that it won't be easy and we might not achieve everything we want the first time around, but we sure should give it our best shot. I know we will accomplish a great deal.

What the industry can offer installers

They become part of a growing industry that is being fueled by new products and techniques. Along with their training, they can also acquire certification of their skills. Those who choose have an opportunity to get into management of contractor/dealer/distributor companies, teaching installation courses, inspections, retail sales, installation course teacher, owning their own businesses. The list is a lengthy one.

What the industry can offer sales/marketing/sales reps

The need for professional people in these areas is ongoing in an industry experiencing so much change, expansion and growth. The opportunities include upper management positions with manufacturers, distributors, retailers, contractors and independent sales agents. Then, there is the opportunity to own a business.

What the industry can do

Prospects can be found in a variety of places in our own communities. For installers, there are high school seniors, community colleges, career guidance firms, trade schools, etc. Some local associations and companies are making use of these sources. We need to expand our search at all levels.

For prospects in sales/marketing/sales reps, look to community colleges, universities, business schools, career guidance firms, etc. Some local associations and companies are making use of these sources. We need to expand this at the local, regional and national levels.

Put turf protection aside

The industry has a wealth of information in our many national and regional associations. Many more prospects could be reached if the associations worked together to develop the information for distribution at the local level by retailers, distributors, contractors and associations.

To help solve the recruiting issue, I suggest forming a committee of associations (before the end of the year) to create and implement a recruitment program. After all, the associations serve every level of the industry, every product category.

In education, there are many opportunities for associations to produce educational programs in combination. It has nothing to do with turf; it has everything to do with strengthening the industry.