NFCA reflects on a year of success

Chris Maskell

NFCA recently held its third Annual General Meeting and Fall Social in Vancouver, B.C. NFCA president Rick Wagner of Maxwell Floors talked about the positive strides made in the last year, due in no small part to the continued and greatly valued support from members, partners and sponsors across Canada.

Some of the year’s key highlights included:

  • A 38 percent increase in membership.
  • 100 percent jump in quality assurance projects.
  • NFCA specifications are appearing on more projects in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.
  • NFCA specification, along with the QAP, will be included in the Federal Government’s National Master Specification (NMS), planned for publication in January 2020.
  • Two new NFCA Board of Directors — Jordan Vogt, manager of Steinbach Flooring in Manitoba and Bob Hunter, regional v.p. of sales in Canada for Milliken Design.

Industry professionals from each of construction’s main segments were invited to attend the Fall Social afterward. Consultants, general contractors, building owners, project managers, manufacturers and flooring contractors all in the same room discussing industry problems, causes and possible solutions.

Guest speaker, Fiona Famulak, president of Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA), spoke to the group about the role of a construction association such as VRCA and how our respective associations could work together to connect our memberships. This will be an ongoing discussion and we will report on the outcomes in future articles.

The statistics Famulak shared emphasized the need for efficiency in a labour-strapped workplace — a topic that has never been more important. Producing more with less will be a shared challenge. Famulak also shared a snapshot of B.C.’s construction industry:

  • With $144 billion in current construction projects, it is the number-one employer in B.C.’s goods sector, employing 242,500 people…180,300 of those being skilled trades.
  • By 2028, the predicted skilled labor job shortage in B.C. will be 25,000.

Lots of challenges — labour shortages, ever-compressing construction schedules, shortcuts as an increasingly tempting option, rising expectations and finally, liability waiting in the wings should there be a failure. These issues will unify us if we work together. The alternative is a far less attractive prospect.

Just because we can’t fix all of it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to fix some of it

The goal is to share the task of building projects properly and faster. Collaboration requires getting in early with the right information, highlighting it, bringing attention to it, acting on it, and pricing and scheduling accordingly. All sides have their interests to protect. But by arming everyone involved with the same good industry-approved information in a timely fashion, outlining fair minimum standards, promoting transparency and working to build trust among all parties, we can improve things over time.

The General Contractor has the toughest job

During the lively and engaging conversation, it was widely acknowledged that the General Contractor has the toughest job, and that our role as a sub-trade should be to support our customer wherever possible. Not just when we show up on site to start work, but months ahead in terms of providing all parties with the same basic information that will help the team to support the journey through the minefield of construction and ultimately through the floor covering installation. Because NFCA is an unbiased entity, we are well-suited for this role.

Unspoken expectations muddy the water

The General Contractor is in charge of the site. But it can’t be expected to know everything about everything. Yet this is the unspoken and unrealistic expectation. It’s the same for the architect – “you specified it, so you should understand it!” And don’t ask the sub-trade, they’re just looking for an extra. So, the need to have a trusted source where you can obtain good information that serves everyone, becomes the key to avoiding expensive, big-hitting problems. The flipside is the same old delays because slab surface preparation, flatness, moisture, indoor environmental conditions etc., were not understood at an early enough stage to budget and schedule properly.

We recognize that not all building segments want change or quality assurance. The segments that do, however, is where NFCA directs its focus. Those are the segments that will pay extra for quality when they trust that value will be delivered.

Value of this type comes by building the track before we race the vehicle. It comes from:

  • Sharing industry-approved information.
  • Planning ahead and seeing mistakes before they arrive.
  • Fostering teamwork between groups (owners, project managers, design authorities, general contractors, sub-trades, manufacturers) to handle issues more collaboratively as opposed to what we generally do when the inevitable problems bear down — retreat to our corners, lock, load and lawyer up!
Great conversations lead to awareness, understanding and action

After the speeches were done, the conversation began and quickly revved up within the group, highlighting frustrations and disconnects between all parties — concrete slab rejection due to deflection (sag), over-polished surfaces, new adhesive products not bonding like old ones, critical information missing or misrepresented in specifications or just being plain misunderstood by those involved. What can we do about it? What’s the solution? This is where active associations with engaged memberships can help connect the dots between good companies in all parties and start the conversation around solutions being a win-win for all involved. Never in all cases, but certainly in some of them.

We left with a great deal of interest and desire in continuing this discussion in a more structured format with representation from each of the parties.

Associations present an opportunity to bridge the gaps between individuals, firms and whole industries. The alternative is to remain as divided as Division 3 and Division 9 — codependent but disconnected. The solution? Awareness of standards that bind us all, an understanding of how they work and then action — getting them specified and followed.

As we continue to build momentum for the overall benefit of the bigger construction picture as it relates to floor coverings, we look ahead to 2020 with genuine enthusiasm!

You can read the NFCA’s Annual Report at

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

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