NFCA: The right thing

Promoting awareness, understanding and action

Chris Maskell

Since the revitalization of NFCA in 2015, we have been sharing our message with the industry via a multitude of channels — media, trade shows, architectural lunch-and-learns, seminars for flooring and general contractors, building owners and project managers.

The overall message underlines the importance of planning the floor covering portion of any project properly and how not doing so causes delays, conflict on site, holdbacks, unnecessary claims, brand damage and ongoing repairs.

For example, by offering the various construction groups support and correct flooring specifications that represent expected trade practice, we increase the likelihood that a properly installed product will be delivered. Items such as testing requirements, subfloor flatness, floor preparation, indoor environmental conditions, product acclimation and floor protection can be clearly addressed, and responsibilities assigned correctly. This allows good installers to go to work without having to fight for ‘acceptable’ conditions.

As with any change of this type, especially in construction where old habits die hard, it takes time to create awareness and garner the attention and understanding necessary to change from the old ways of doing things.

NFCA is still at the awareness stage. While it’s never been easier to get a message out there — it’s never been more difficult to get that message heard. However, when the message does cut through the clutter, understanding kicks in … and action quickly follows. NFCA’s specification tools, the Floor Covering Reference Manual and the Quality Assurance Program, work best when everyone understands them and puts them to use together.

As a result, we are starting to see NFCA specs in projects across the country — Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. And there’s more exciting news to follow with lots of activity going on behind the scenes.

Common language, common goal

Where’s the sweet spot? As I speak to individuals, companies, groups and trades around the country, it’s clear that there is frustration on all sides, but also an appetite for improvement. The solution lies in being able to work together effectively — something NFCA is helping to facilitate by raising the issues floor coverers have face every day for decades.

The construction industry’s challenge is that big bucks are at stake…. and no one wants to be blamed or back-charged for delays. The result can be a tendency for the parties involved to fumble the ball because the level of collaboration needed just isn’t there. When NFCA and the Quality Assurance Program are included on a project, the resulting transparency leads to working productively together, more likelihood of a successful install and a better experience for all involved.

Growth, conversations and great members

Membership has been one our main missions — inviting good quality firms to align with and support the push for change. This requires a multi-faceted approach that includes attending trade shows, providing educational opportunities, traveling the country, visiting contractors, and talking to people face-to-face … as much as possible.

NFCA met with the Fuse Alliance people in Toronto in June to discuss the goals and specification tools I’ve mentioned. The response was very positive, and as a result, we welcomed our first Maritimes member, Commercial Flooring Group of Halifax, Nova Scotia (see more member news).

By building membership, we’re creating a place where other construction parties can go to find firms who meet a list of criteria that among other things, recognize them for providing qualified installers and bonding for larger projects — something the notorious “one man in a van” cannot do.

Supporting excellence

There is a smaller percentage of each industry that builds its brand based on doing the job once and doing it right. Call it the 80/20 rule. It’s this group that has a real warranty, trains staff, makes continuous improvement a priority, and values its reputation. It’s this group that would typically take the tough road of saying ‘no’ to their customer risking repercussions, rather than just installing and hoping for the best.

Over time, doing the right thing will get easier using the NFCA spec and understanding how it works. This is a start on a long road, and it’s good news for everyone.

The National Floor Covering Association (NFCA) promotes industry standards for resilient, carpet, hardwood, laminate, cork and bamboo floor covering installations.

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