Thoughts on installation training

Discussion in 'Industry News, Training & Organizations' started by Jim McClain, Aug 31, 2006.

  1. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain TFP Owner/Founder Administrator

    In the more than six years I have been participating on flooring forums for professionals, training has been one of the most oft discussed topics. Not too long ago, when I mentioned seminars and schools, I was told by one member with a couple decades in the trade that they were a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, this is, apparently, one of the prevailing negative attitudes about training. The value I have received, in the last 35 years of on-going training at seminars, classes, conventions and schools is way beyond that dime a dozen assessment.

    I have a somewhat rural life and business in the mountains of N. California. I'm close enough to Reno to get my materials and supplies and to attend any training sessions or seminars held there. There is a wealth of knowledge available at many of these functions. You would think that anyone interested in this industry would want to attend one at least occasionally, even if only out of curiosity about the competition. But attendance is abysmal. I live an hour and a half away and the largest attendance I have seen in all these years is less than 40. There has to be more than 600 installers and assistants in a 90 mile radius of Reno, maybe more. Less than 10% show up? It's no wonder suppliers and manufacturers are reluctant to pour money into training. It's not surprising they have a poor attitude toward the installation community as a whole. Do we really care about training?

    I have noticed over the years that seminars sponsored by manufacturers, distributors and certifying organizations have fewer manufacturers representatives present. A tool or product representative who can answer some of those tough questions is an asset at any seminar. The instructor is usually a fellow pro, paid or volunteer, with maybe a product salesperson. Yet there is always free food and refreshments and the opportunity to win a few hand tools and T-shirts. Let's not forget the host usually offers discounts that day or evening on supplies and materials.

    For those of us who find value in these seminars and training opportunities, what can we do to encourage our peers to join us? Except for the rare agnostic or dime-a-dozen attitude, I know that many of us appreciate these chances to improve our craft. Maybe we should spend more time publicly extolling their virtues, not only to each other, but to all the installers we come in contact with that don't happen to belong to our "virtual community". And what about the others associated with our segment of the industry; the cleaners, estimators, inspectors, sales people, retailers and designers we come in contact with? They too could benefit from attending a seminar occasionally. We might even go so far as to invite a builder, architect or specifier. Installation education is not an exclusive club, it's for all who make floor covering an important part of their work.

    Your thoughts on these issues would be appreciated.

    Best R'gards,

  2. Jerry Thomas

    Jerry Thomas Charter Member Senior Member

    There is a middle ground that ought to be included here Jim. I have nothing against seminars or training. But they are trying to sell me something too. Thats OK as long as i know that.

    I work all day long 10-12 hours and no lunch breaks. When I get home I clean up,eat ,and hit the bed by 9. There is just no time for me to attend seminars, seriously.

    I am an avid reader and eager to learn new methods so I try to apply my common sense to new products.
  3. Jon Scanlan

    Jon Scanlan That Kiwi Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Jim do you live in New Zealand? The same thing happens here. I have been invovled in the flooring game for 40 years as a layer and also I was Auckland President of the NZ Master Flooring Contractors Assoc. for years. Layers would say what will the assoc. do for me, their livelyhood but would spend hundreds of dollars playing golf. The importers would have functions but no one would turn up, to far, to much work, not enough work, you name it. so therefore not many functions. Now everybody says no one does anything for us. A couple of years ago one importer organised a compition for the best marmoleum layer with a prize of one week in Australia. One day (which was a half day) of compition canceled because of lack of interest in the biggest city in New Zealand All this sound like what you are talking about?
  4. tony lamar

    tony lamar Charter Member

    I've about decided that most installers(people in general) I see, simply don't care about their work that much. It's just something they have to do to get a check. Maybe I'm a cynic, but most folks nowdays strike me like water, they just follow the path of least resistance. I imagine the guys who do what we do here are in the minority. While we're on here, most are watching "Survior", riding a 4 wheeler, drinking beer, or whatever. I, like you, would like to find a way to change that aspect of our industry and our society in general but I'm afraid we may be the salmon swimming against the tide. How does one instill a work ethic or sense of morality into a society? The only thing I can think of is if you can translate more money into the carrot on a stick, somehow. It seems to be the only thing to motivate most people today, and, they'd rather get it free if at all possible. Sorry to be such a downer, but I have to call 'em like I see 'em.

    And now, equal time is allowed for the optimists.
    Come on you smiley faced rascals. I'm rootin for you.
  5. Tandy Reeves

    Tandy Reeves Resting In Peace Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Gentlemen, what I am about to say may get me kicked off the team. However, it must be said. Installations should be done by professionals. Professionalsm is not cheap. Therefore, sacrafices must be made to get there and stay there. Most good inspectors I know have $20,000.00 to $50,000.00 invested in schools, travel, motels, food, tools, and continueing education. If you wait until you have time, you will never have that. You must take time. When inspectors go to school or workshops, they miss work. They have no income for the time they are away from the job. Installers if you want to better yourself, then make the sacrafice to do it. I have often wondered why installers do not attend inspection courses. If you did, you would know what we are looking at on your jobs, and as a result if you are not doing it right, you would then know what to do to make it right.

    Motivation must come from within. I can provide you the tools to be motivated, but until you make you do it the status quo will remain.

    This was not intended to put anyone down or step on anyone, but it is my opinion after 45 plus years in the industry.
  6. tony lamar

    tony lamar Charter Member

    I didn't see one thing wrong with that Mr. Tandy. You're still on the team.:D
  7. Nick Arrera

    Nick Arrera Resting In Peace

    Not only on the team but the lead off batter .. I think until stores and such start paying for good work , there is no incentive for the hacks to learn how to do it the right way ..
    I went to the doctors yesterday , he just had cpt installed through out the building 3/4
    x 3/4 pattern don't want to know what it looks like .. Not to pat myself on the shoulder but i just installed 1400 yds of this stuff , and you can't see where it starts or ends .. it was real easy to work with .. but i guess the store would only pay $3.00 yd , and thats what they gave him ..
  8. Chris Mha

    Chris Mha Charter Member Senior Member

    NIck you just hit the nail on the head. Most retailers do not care that I am certified and have virtually zero call backs and the other guys with no training and call backs all the time. They don't care, the installers are going to get paid the same no matter what. At least that is the way it is here in Detroit and I suspect it is like that in other markets. Retailer want it done cheap. I have been fighting with retailers around here for years and I have only found a very small handfull that truely care about quality and professionalism. They are the few that I will work for. When I started installing carpet in 1978 the going rate was $2.50 per yard. Now almost 30 years later the average around here is about $3.50. Tha is sad if you look at what the cost of living is now. My feeling is that retailers do not want educated installers because it will cost them more or they will go somewhere else. Sorry fo the rant but this is a sore subject with me.
  9. selvalee

    selvalee No one special Senior Member

    since 1992, gee, how much have I spent on training?

    the same attitude about time off for work or who is going to pay for it is just wrong,,,, there is the same attitude about training by some inspectors who have gotten so far behind they may never catch up if they wanted but ,they don't care to do so.

    this week, an inspector told me all the training I go to is not needed,, so, I agreed, you can be an inspector who only reports what he sees but can not explain it, or, you can be an installer who only does the simple jobs, in both cases, the attitude is that they:
    1. don't want to pay for it,
    2. are afrid to take the chance?
    3. lack the ambition to move forward in their jobs.
    yes, I agree with that inspector, not needed if you only want to be a marginal inspector....
    Whatever the reason and I sure you guys can find more reasons, there is one simple fact, in our world today, everyone pays to learn their job! my father was a mold maker,, made the molds for glass bottles,, he had a four year training course,,,,,,,

    1. time spent as apprentice: the period of time that an apprentice spends training
    2. status of apprentice: an apprentice’s status or conditions of employment

    Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    ok, he made much less money for those four years, the Union taught him, he paid a fee and dues, the employer who hired him, got lots of work at a reduced price,, he put in his time training and being trained! he paid the price for what he wanted,,, seems some in floor covering do not want to pay that price to be good,,,,,

    so, where is the training courses like this for carpet installers? where are the courses for wood installers? heck, for any installers? The Unions? yes, but, for you guys who do not want to be associated with Unions, where do you go? just hack at it until you learn? hope not but that is the only way some are trained,,

    Chuck told me once something that is so truth, some people hold onto their false information, their ignorance, like parting with it will kill them,,, they will fight you to hold on to it, think about that,,

    ask any well trained inspector what he hears from the installers,,, today, I have heard from an importor agent and the retailer/interior designer/installer, that wood is defective because of acclimation cupping,,, gee,

    knowledge is power,,,

    now, to the fact some installers think they are owned free training, doctors pay, accountants pay, truck drivers pay in truck driving schools, lets see, when everyone is hired, they go through a training period where they make less money and if they do not learn, they are gone! so, why do some installers say they can not take off work to learn their trade that they should have already been trained for to start with?!!!!! why do they think they are owned free training? everyone pays for their training, everyone,,

    by the way Tandy, I wish I only had 50,000 in training fees and cost, double that, and you will be getting close,,, there were many years I spent well over 10,000 per year, I went to everything anyone would offer, some good, some bad, but, I paid and paid and paid, from installation classes to inspectors classes,,, and, even the bads ones I do not regret, no one penny! all those years, all that money, I could have had a good time with or saved but, I just do not have it in me to be, Marginal, or, below grade! it is the cost of doing biz, and the cost of being good at what you do or just a bum,
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2006
  10. Don Monfils

    Don Monfils PRO CARPET Charter Member

    I have not heard of any installation seminars in my area in years. I drove 9 hours to Maryland to get CFI Certified and attended one convention in Kansas City which was great but, cost about $1500 and missed 3 days of work. I attended Armstrong's Certified Residential Vinyl seminar and I was the only one who showed up. There used to be at least one seminar a year locally. Seams like most of the seminars are in Georiga. or Missouri. I wouldn't,t mind traveling 3-4 hours but,any farther can be tough. Any one know of any seminars in the Northeast PLEASE let me know.
  11. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Selva as you know from the other board I'm a CFI certifier/instructor what have you. The real sad thing is when there is a training even a free one, no one or hardly anyone shows up. Even the ones that do attend training and updates can't seem to get a price increase. The mills now have training programs also. How many go?
    I wonder how many installers out there really care. And what are the percentages that do?

  12. Nick Arrera

    Nick Arrera Resting In Peace

    i never hear about any classes free or not , Like don said everything is around 1000 miles away . I started at $25.00 a day ane that was a long day , then had to sew cpt that night for a couple of months and bring it in the next day for the boss to cut it open and tell me i was getting better .. I would love to go to some classes just to see new ways of working with the new materials , and supplys .. i do work for one store who asked me what i charged when i was there to pick up for a interior decatorator he gave me his price list what he pays his installers , igave him my list and told him that it what i charge .. i get twice as much as his installers , and get all the big comerical jobs his hacks can't do .. bottom line ,stores want to make all the money and if the hack butchers the job they charge him for it thank God i sell most of my own work ..
    I agree with Sel though , you can't get enough education especially in a business that keeps changing ..
  13. tony lamar

    tony lamar Charter Member

    They "think" it will cost them more. In reality, not having call backs or, worse yet, replacements is much cheaper and brings repeat buisness plus spreads a good reputation to other potential clients. Don't underestimate that one. Most people who got a bad job, don't know who the installer was, but they damn sure remember the name of that store that they'll never do buisness with again. Besides that, the retailer isn't the one paying for it anyway, even though some act like they are. I know I'm preachin' to the chior here though.
  14. Nick Arrera

    Nick Arrera Resting In Peace

    I agree with you 100 % tony .. does greed get in the way of logic ?
  15. selvalee

    selvalee No one special Senior Member

    I use to go to the distributor's classes, but, I can not find them anymore,,, I also went to Armstrong's class,, the product knowledge class, only four of us, and the second day, only three,,,,,,
    but, when I went that week for the actual installation training by Armstrong, there were about 30 or so,,
    I went back later for another one, maybe five,,
    I went to Mohawk's installation school, one week, about $600 plus travel, food and motel, not hotel, could not afford it,,,a room full, I remember it had been years since I made a seam but, I did ok on my first but not on my second!
    the thing was, the guys there already knew how to install carpet,, not one was a Newbee,,,
    went to Dave Gobis CTEF installation class,,, great installation class, that was fun and highly educational,,,,,,, loved it,,, after I went, a few other inspectors went,, and then, suddenly, they were the ones who told everyond to go and "found it",, hell, one who made that claim once is a past prez of NIFIC,,,I let it go,, why bother?
    I had heard about the class, posted it on Fred's forum it was a great class for both installers and inspectors, and, the response from the inspectors there? they said they did not need the hands on experience, they could read it in a book! yes! maybe it is an inspector who did that tile job I posted,,,
    each day, people are put through a ringer when anyone who is not able to do the job does the job, inspector or installer,, and my question over and over and over and over and over and over and over is, why should these people who buy floor covering in good faith have to go through this?

  16. Steve Olson

    Steve Olson Hardwood/Laminate Guru Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Any training I go to, will be at least an 1 1/2 hour drive one way. In my current position, I arrive at work about 6:30 am. pull the job tags, get materials, supplies sundries, etc, together for the crews, load the trucks, and then go and do my installations. I have the full suport to attend training, but it find it near impossible to get my work done, and get down to the seminars in time. Factor in my commitment to my family, to support my kids, my yongest son is playing football, my youngest of 4 girls is playing volleyball, two kids in college. Man, right now, and probably for the next couple years, any more training I take is going to be something I can really use right now, and not just a rehash of what I already know. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those, "Hell, I should be teaching this stuff" guys, as I have never failed to learn at least one new trick at every function I attend. But for now, I need massive value in exchange for what I would miss out on, being around my kids. They have grown up far too fast, but I was always there at the little school functions, the sports events, coaching their baseball, softball, even did a season for my number 3 daughters middle school basketball team, as coach. This is what matters to me right now. In about 4 short years, they will all have moved on to college, or where ever life takes them. I will then, have way too much time for heat welding, and floor prep classes, seminars about the latest and greatest new whatever.
    So for now, though I agree on going training is important, being with my kids, supporting their likes, and intrests, is of far more importance. Blink, and they'll be gone.....
  17. Jerry Thomas

    Jerry Thomas Charter Member Senior Member

    There you go, and very well stated SK. A top notch installer does not have a life for the most part. I am fairly new at this occupation comparatively speaking and i feel the same way. I'm all for training and education but some of us have to accomplish this in an unorthodox manner, which is why I get up at 3:00 am everyday. I have to teach myself and use my god given common sense on every installation.

    Tandy, you said nothing wrong, my tool investment is quite high too. Nowadays we are fortunate to be able to find the answers online, much more so than a few years ago. I don't have much interest in product seminars, but training seminars or schools are of interest to me. If I could attend I would and I plan to get certified in the future. Maybe even an inspector. Right now i am working my arse off and basically have no life. My son is 20 now and i missed alot.
  18. hookknife

    hookknife Hard Surface Installer Charter Member Senior Member

    I go to one school a year, and attend as many seminars as possible , I have never not learned something, the best part is learning new products, we need to remember times change so do products so do installation technics:)
  19. rusty baker

    rusty baker Well-Known Member

    A young man I have known since he was a small boy told me an interesting story about certification. His mother owns a Flooring America store. He does laminate and tile but has no interest in installing carpet. He said they recieved a video in carpet installation and he was told if he would watch it and send in $600., he would recieve his certificate from CFI. Can this be true?
  20. Daris Mulkin

    Daris Mulkin The One and Only Charter Member I Support TFP Senior Member

    Rusty The CFI part is wrong! The videos were made by CFI but the certification was from someone else.


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