When I first started covering the flooring industry nearly 20 years ago I learned there were a few issues that had “always” been around.

Some, such as the employee vs. independent contractor debate, the industry can only lobby politicians to ensure any law does not harm normal industry practices.

Others, though, are totally within the industry’s power to change, such as installation. I remember shortly after starting there was a glaring headline across the front page of another publication stating an industry study that said installation was the No. 1 problem. Even today, if you poll manufacturers and retailers inevitably 95% or more will list installation among the industry’s top three problems.

My question then and still is: If installation is such a problem why is so little done to solve it? It almost seems as if manufacturers and retailers/contractors want this so-called problem never to be solved. Nearly every company in any industry will budget a contingency fund, yet how many besides flooring actually have a built-in line item for claims? Shouldn’t priority No. 1 be to eliminate that line? Yet, instead, people continue to bemoan the problem.

The excuse, “If I train them they will go someplace else” is just that—an excuse. Why is it other industries can train people without these worries? GM never worries its certified mechanics (formerly called Mr. Goodwrench) will run to Ford once they get trained.

Yes, there are some who wholeheartedly support quality installation and will do whatever it takes to ensure their people are properly trained to get the job done right the first time. But they are obviously in the minority.

Here’s the thing, there are groups trying their level best to train installers on the latest tools, products and procedures but get little support in terms of retailers sending (or suggesting) installers to these events and the vast majority of manufacturers—whose products are the ones being installed—are nowhere to be seen.

Two recent examples: NTCA’s executive director recently pointed out even though the association provides freeeducational programs, “It is disappointing…we don’t get as many people to attend as we would like.”

Or, at the recent CFI convention, which has helped train and ID the qualifications of nearly 50,000 installers during its 20-year existence, why were there so few retailers and contractors? And forget about seeing a mill executive. The training and education that takes place at a CFI convention would blow the minds of most people and much of it would be of great assistance to salespeople (such as learning about the properties of wood and moisture).

If you want this “problem” solved do something about it. Send your head mechanic, or a crew to a training event so they can come back and teach others. Hold a clinic of your own.

And while it would behoove mills to show their latest products to installers and get feedback before finding out about inherent problems afterwards, why is it the suits can crisscross the country to attend retail events to thank the dealer for his business, yet they can’t attend an installer meeting to thank a person who has saved them countless dollars by getting it right as well as representing their companies in a professional manner?

After all, this is still a people industry.