Since its inception 50 years ago as the Western Floor Covering Association, the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) has played a vital role within the industry. Alongside educating consumers and industry professionals about the latest floor covering products and design trends, the organization has also taken a leading role in promoting legislation designed to benefit the industry during the current recession.
According to D. Christopher Davis, president and ceo of the WFCA, as the group plans for the future the core issues of education, legislative advocacy and installation training will remain at the forefront of its agenda.
Educating potential buyers about the latest flooring fashions remains a key priority for the WFCA, which uses its website, www.wfca.org, as well as its consumer magazine, Beautiful Flooring (published with Better Homes & Gardens), to bring the latest information to consumers. “First of all, the WFCA wants to focus on its distinctive competencies, its unique selling proposition,” said Davis. “We see one of those core competencies as being the honest broker of information about flooring to the consumer. We invoke that through our relationships with the consumer media, notably shelter publications and women’s magazines, with our consumer website and our consumer magazine.”
Another key area that will continue to play a prominent role in the WFCA’s future is the advocation of industry-targeted legislation. Currently, the WFCA is working with the American Home Furnishings and Building Products Coalition to propose The Home Improvements Revitalize The Economy (HIRE) Act of 2009 would provide consumers and businesses tax deductions and credits to middle and low income families for the purchase of home furnishings and building products.
Along with the WFCA, the American Home Furnishings and Building Products Coalition includes the Adhesive and Sealant Council, American Home Furnishings Alliance, Carpet and Rug Institute, Hardwood Federation, International Sleep Products Association, International Wood Products Association, Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, National Home Furnishings Association, National Paint & Coatings Association, National Wood Flooring Association, Polyurethane Foam Association, Resilient Floor Covering Institute and Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America. (For more information, see the opening editorial in the July 2009 issue of NFT.)
Davis points to this involvement as an ongoing practice for the group. “Another of our unique core competencies is our legislative and governmental relations program,” he said. “This is not a ‘one-shot’ effort, but an ongoing practice of daily monitoring legislative affairs and regulatory agencies.”
“The WFCA will continue its long-standing practice of monitoring legislative and regulatory issues and proposing action and responses where appropriate,” Davis added. “We manage a tracking system for legislative matters at www.wfca-pro.org which not only briefs members on legislative issues but directly connects them with their legislative representatives so they can communicate their concerns and wishes about specific legislation.”
The WFCA will also remain heavily involved in Installation Training. As part of its commitment, over the past ten years the WFCA has invested more than $1.5 million in the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) to train and certify installers.
“CFI, through the generosity of WFCA, has trained over 3,000 flooring installers, at fees far below others,” said Jim Walker, ceo of CFI. “CFI could not have accomplished this feat without the WFCA and their investment in education.”
“The cost of providing the type of training for which CFI is known throughout the world, would be impossible without our partnership with WFCA,” commented Roy Davison, president of CFI.
Jon Namba, executive director of CFI, agreed with the sentiment. “WFCA has placed the focus on training, and has led the way for the industry to address education and advanced training for the flooring installer,” he said. “The importance placed on training and certification today is a direct result of the involvement of WFCA.”
The WFCA also continues to offer Trade Scholarship funds to its regular members, worth up to $500 annually for continuing education.
In another key partnership, the WFCA and Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) have teamed up to finance the development of ANSI Standards for Carpet Installation. The process is being managed by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), which recently filed notification with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and began drafting the S600 Carpet Installation Standard and Reference Guide.
“The WFCA has enthusiastically agreed to fund half the cost for IICRC to develop ANSI Standards for carpet installation because we firmly believe it is an investment is the future for our customers and the entire industry,” Davis said. “We see the value in and have a history of partnering with other sectors of the flooring industry to accomplish mutual goals.”
“The involvement of the WFCA and CRI in the creation of the standard is an example of how our industry works together to achieve the best possible result,” noted Paul Pearce, IICRC’s chairman.
The concept of partnership has been a core principle of the WFCA since the beginning, and the organization is currently in discussion with several groups and manufacturers regarding methods to enhance and extend the effectiveness of its industry certification programs.
“We are in the middle of negotiations with one of the major retailing groups to have them significantly expand their internal promotion of industry certification and provide certain incentives to their members to make obtaining certification much more compelling for them,” Davis explained. “We believe once this agreement is finalized and made public it will serve as a model for other groups.”
The association’s management philosophy is based on the “four P’s”: Professionalism; Partnership; Perception and Profitability.
Professionalism. The WFCA wants all its programs and activities to enhance the professionalism of its members amongst their peers and their customers.
Partnership. The WFCA will work in partnership with other organizations and entities to advance mutual goals.
Perception. All WFCA activities, programs and offerings should enhance the positive perception of the organization and its members in the eyes of the public.
Profitability. At the end of the day, it is essential members of the organization be profitable.
Finally, the WFCA is expanding its reach using the latest technology to reach out to consumers, including blogs and interactive web-based tools.
“If someone told me several years ago that the WFCA would have the type of web presence we have now or that we would be hosting a blog, I would have found that somewhat difficult to believe,” Davis said. “These things evolve and we take advantage of situations as they present themselves. I like to think we are usually ahead of the curve,” he added.