There is absolutely no scenario where progress is made on the installation labor crisis that doesn’t involve engagement at the local level. While there are many things the FCEF can and will do on a national level, significant progress will only be achieved when individuals and businesses commit to getting engaged locally.
Consider John Steier, a CFI certified installer in Algona, Iowa. John has been installing floors for 18 years and has owned his own installation company since 2016. John started out as an installation helper for a number of years but decided to take an opportunity in law enforcement (a dream of his). He quickly learned his real love is flooring and his law enforcement career was short-lived — three weeks and a day, to be exact. John has been a flooring installer ever since. “I can’t think of a better career choice than what I’m doing,” he said.
John then reached out to high schools in his area that offered construction-related technical courses and proposed to teach the students flooring installation for a week. He taught mainly carpet techniques: seaming, stretching, knee-kicking and even stairs with spindles. He said, “What a rewarding couple of days I had with the classes. I’m already planning on doing this again!”
His efforts weren’t about creating certified installers in a week. It was about exposing the career to a group of students that would never have even considered it otherwise. And by doing so, John is helping address the No. 1 issue we have in solving the installation crisis: awareness. Simply put, people can’t choose to become flooring installers if they don’t consider it. And they can’t consider it if they don’t even know the career exists. And trust me when I tell you, they don’t!
And then there’s Brad Milner in Yuma, Ariz. Brad owns Flooring America Yuma. Like most independent retailers, he struggles to find enough installers. Brad knows the long-term solution to the installation crisis is not simply stealing installers from your competition, but bringing new recruits into the industry.
So, when Brad learned of a large high school student career/job fair happening in Yuma he went all in promoting flooring careers. In his booth, he showed students how to lock in LVT, how to arrange tile and run a carpet seaming iron. He distributed brochures from FCEF outlining the career path and discussing our training scholarships. He played the FCEF video loop on a wide screen TV. And guess what? His booth was packed with students all day long.
Everyone in this industry needs to take part in solving the installation crisis, and it starts local. When is the last time you’ve spoken to a local high school guidance counselor about the opportunities in flooring installation as a career? Or offered to work with the local students in shop class like John Steier? Or presented installation as a career option at a local job fair like Brad Milner?
Commit to being like these retailers and being a part of the solution. It starts local!