Baltimore was the site of the 20th Anniversary Celebration for the International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI). A tour of the Armstrong residential sheet vinyl manufacturing plant in Lancaster, PA was enjoyed by the members prior to the opening ceremony. The attendees were given an in-depth look into the manufacturing process of glass-back vinyl.

President Alan Ellis welcomed the attendees, including 39 first-timers at the opening ceremony. Tony Buckhardt introduced those responsible for the tickets and explained how CFI includes this option each year to benefit installers who have fallen on difficult times. All money raised goes towards the George Buckhardt Memorial Fund and the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.

Included this year were 48 pails of carpet adhesive from Ardex, a $500 gift card to the Home Depot from Mason Contracting, 70 yards of carpet from Clayton Miller Hospitality, a Koolglide Starter Kit and other tools from Traxx, a tool kit from DeWalt, two Personna Tool Kits, a RotoZip from Skil and cleat nailer from Duo-Fast. The lucky winners were announced at lunch on Saturday.  In addition to the raffle, an abundance of great prizes were given to all the installers in attendance from MAPEI, Taylor Tools, Better Tools and others.

Celebrating 20 years
Special guest Bob Turpen of Georgia, the former director of marketing for AMOCO Fabrics and Fibers was introduced by Jim Walker. He and Jim recounted the early days of CFI and the roll that AMOCO played in the seminars and certifications of the organization. Bob recalled his visit to Springfield, Mo., in the worst ice storm to hit the state to “check out this Jim Walker” for his company to see if AMOCO should get involved.

The storm was so bad that Jim and Jane Walker and Herm Claussen, presently manager of CCS in Kansas City, slid the entire trip. It had been suggested that that the seminar be cancelled due to the severity of the storm, but because there was no way to notify all the attendees, Jim made the decision to go. Over 200 people attended that day to mark the commitment of AMOCO’s strong financial investment in installation training.

Several installers from the audience shared memories of the early years of CFI. The office staff had prepared a slide show of 20 years of memories. J R Harris of Maryland shared highlights of his first encounter with what he referred to as “The Dream” and how he became instrumental in the founding of the Delmarva CFI Chapter with Pat Fell, employee of L. Fishman Company.

Educational events
Seminar presenters this year included: Dr. Brian Beakler, the principal Scientist and manager of installation and technical services with Armstrong, who addressed the environmental effects of wood flooring and the importance of this for flooring installers; Kevin Flannigan, national installation specialist for IVC, who shared techniques for repairs of fiberglass vinyl and custom floating LVT/LVP Systems; Jeff Johnson, product manager of MAPEI, who discussed Adhesives 101 – the Science of Adhesive Bonding; and Ray Knapp, director and technical sales manager for Taylor Tools, presenting information to avoid and solve moisture-related issues.

Others on hand included Tony Pastrana and Rick Herr from Armstrong, Dick Schmidt from Johnsonite/Tarkett, Joe Cea and Ed Justice from Congoleum, and Michael Roettele and Debbie Nickerson of Floor Art Consulting shared resilient flooring installation techniques, seaming issues and scribing demonstrations, as well as Tony Pastrana and Rick Herr from Armstrong; Joe Allyn, George Chagnon and Gene Jarka of Powernail; and Bob Gillespie of Bob’s Installations demonstrating installation techniques and new products in the Wood Flooring Installation Workshop. Zev Kozohar of Kane Carpet and Rodney Brown of Stanton Carpet shared woven carpet installation techniques.

Chris Adams, president of the Maryland Northern Virginia Floor Covering Association and owner of Value City Carpet One, along wiht Kathy Sibbald, compliance officer for CB Flooring and former Internal Revenue Officer who specialized in worker classification tax law issues, and Roland Thompson, president of the Delmarva CFI Chapter, discussed in detail the employee or independent contractor issue and why it matters.

Adams explained why retailers must be concerned and take appropriate actions that apply specifically to their businesses. Sibbald shared how the laws apply directly to the installation community and procedures in place to identify workers who are not legitimate independent contractors. Thompson explained how the MNVFCA has traveled the area preparing the dealers and installers to address this issue.
Certification update
The CFI Certification Team met to discuss training and certification programs for carpet, ceramic, resilient, laminate and wood. New training methods were shared. The CFI team of instructors continues to expand, providing the organization with the opportunity to presently offer up to 6 events weekly. It is expected that this number will increase in the coming years.

The Team includes technical representatives from the various manufacturers, NWFA and NALFA Certified trainers and a vast array of trainers who are certified by numerous organizations and manufacturers. The CFI Resource Guides for each surface are continually updated to provide the attendees with the latest information and installation techniques. The CFI team is responsible for sharing installation techniques worldwide to over 50,000 people since 1993.

Also at the show
One of the most educational contributions of the CFI Convention is the Associate Seminars. Attendees have the opportunity to hear the latest product technical information and be introduced to new tools and supplies. This is a benefit of sponsoring the CFI Commemorative Jacket and the Associate Fun Night which was a trip to the Baltimore Orioles Baseball Game where all attending were witness to a rare grand slam.

Sponsors this year included WFCA, Surfaces, Mohawk, Wagner Meters, Crain, TRAXX, Roberts/QEP, MAPEI, Johnsonite, Armstrong, Taylor Tools, Bond, EarthMaster Products, Royal Adhesives, Gundlach, Personna, Powernail, Sponge Cushion, Floor Pro Network, ArmorLock, Maryland Northern Virginia Floor Covering Association, PowerHold, IVC US, DriTac and Pak-Lite, Inc. It is stressed throughout the event that CFI installers must support those who support them and make the convention the event of the year for installation. The seminar winner of $500.00 was Kelly Huddleston from Kelly Flooring in La Junta, Colorado.

Roy Lewis, Eagle Interiors, Phenix City, Ala., noted, “It was great to be in Baltimore for the 20th CFI Convention this year. Each year we as installers are excited to go to convention to see old friends, talk about jobs and share installation tricks among some of the best installers in the world.”
David Garden, Installation Services, Troy, Mich., stated, “The Armstrong mill tour was a huge success. Thank you for offering it. It is truly amazing to me what a manufacturer puts into the construction of the products we install. The people who walked us through were friendly, knowledgeable, and patient with all the questions we asked, and we asked a lot of questions!”
Eric Brungardt, Pacific Floor Covering, San Diego, added, “I am inspired by the commitment and dedication to excellence that CFI stands for. I want to be a part of that, and the care and kindness I was shown lets me know I am part of a family.”  

See more coverage in the October issue of Floor Trends and October/November issue of Floor Covering Installer.