Strengthening the Commercial Flooring Industry from the Ground Up
The Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA)
The Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA), referred to as the Flooring Contractors Association, is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together its members to provide education and training, networking and resources and the leadership that is required to enhance the success of its members and the commercial flooring industry.
Its membership represents the who’s who of the commercial flooring industry in the United States including commercial flooring contractors, associate members (manufacturers, distributors and logistics firms), as well as consultant members (flooring inspectors, industry consultants and service providers).
“We’re a company-based association. Anybody who is an employee of that company is also considered a member,” Executive Vice President Kim Oderkirk explained. Associate membership is offered in tiers, with base, gold and platinum membership tiers available.
“A category that we are very proud of is our honorary members, those who have retired from the industry or if they are not in our membership, but they’ve done something to help our members, we do give honorary and lifetime membership,” said Oderkirk.
With a total of 169 contractor members, membership growth is always the goal, but the organization wants to ensure any growth experienced is sustainable to ensure that members receive the benefits they have come to expect.
As the resource for premier commercial flooring contractors, FCICA members gain technical education, business support, networking opportunities, and access to industry experts and thought leaders in floor covering installation, products, business management and professional issues. Members also benefit from increased visibility in the commercial flooring industry, member discount programs, and access to valuable resources like The Flooring Contractor magazine, FCICA’s quarterly publication that covers installation, business and legal matters, new products and association news.
The Commercial Flooring Resource Guide has served as a powerful tool for the industry and offers a comprehensive collection of consultant, contractor and product installation contact information, and allows users to conduct specialty-based queries, identifying contractors based on project type and manufacturers by product. Touted as, “the only guide of its kind,” it is a true source of pride for the organization. According to Oderkirk, “We’re the only guide where you can look up a contractor and find a company that can actually do the work, not just who can provide the materials.”
Members gain free access to the safety program and its many resources, including 52 topics that can be facilitated as weekly safety meetings. As education is a major focus of FCICA, members can also gain skills and knowledge from its webinars.
These webinars offer in-demand content that brings members closer to industry experts and thought leaders to promote knowledge transfer related to products, applications, business management, professionalism and anything else floor covering installation related. Recent and upcoming webinar topics include ASTM History and the Standards Process, Managing the Schedule, Post-Installation Maintenance and Polished Concrete.
Webinars are free to members and not only ensure safe and high-quality flooring installation, they count toward Certified Installation Manager (CIM) continuing education credits. The CIM Program was the idea of Past-Chairman Gerry Swift who wanted to do something that no other industry organization was doing. The program provides training tools and assessment for qualified professionals within the commercial flooring industry to enhance their core skill set, experience, and knowledge base, which are necessary to successfully manage commercial flooring projects. To renew and remain an active CIM, participants must earn thirty credits in a three-year period. As Oderkirk explained, “If you went to our mid-years and conventions you would earn all that without having to do anything else,” though outside credits are accepted as well.
What she was referring to are the two major events hosted by FCICA each year, a mid-year gathering that takes place every October and an annual convention in March which includes the Commercial Flooring Trade Show. These conventions are great opportunities for members to come together, share information, learn about new products and processes and have a little fun doing it. There are several committees dedicated to advancing the organization and its members in various ways.
“With our certification program, at the last mid-year in Hershey, we decided to take the CIM program and make it three days. So, if you’re not someone that can do it online or you’re so busy you just can’t get the ten modules and the eight tests done, we now do 3 Days to CIM where your only focus is watching the modules, and you take the assessment tests and in three days you can earn your CIM designation,” Oderkirk explained.
Further to attending events, credits can be earned by watching webinars and completing industry training, avenues which will be expanding as the program matures. The association is actively pushing for its live events to be recorded and rebroadcast online to improve member access for those who cannot attend the live events.
Having been launched only three years ago, the first round of certification renewals are underway. In the program’s inaugural three-year cycle, it has demonstrated its value and impact in a very short time.
“Last year we hit fifty total CIMs and at mid-year in October we hit our one-hundredth, so we are rising exponentially,” explained Director of Programs Lizzie Taylor. “People are constantly joining, finishing, renewing, and we are looking to expand content-wise, mainly in the continuing education area.”
With over 120 CIM designations earned and seventy more people currently enrolled in the program at the time of publication, the program is certainly a success and is helping to address a serious need in the market for skilled talent. There is a shortage of installers, estimators and sales people and extensive efforts have been made to address the talent pipeline problem. FCICA has a seat at the table and is doing its part to engage the next generation in choosing a career in the flooring industry.
“There is a group called the Floor Covering Leadership Council made up of associations, and we are one of them. I am the current Secretary,” explained Oderkirk. “We have taken on this issue and completed a research project and now we’re in the next phase, which will focus on recruitment.” In March, the group will announce their vision and strategy.
Another way FCICA has been a leader is by introducing a mobile event app which has enabled the organization to streamline its communications with event attendees by offering a new platform for information exchange, as well as going paperless at its events. “We find cutting edge technology and take it on. We’re not afraid,” said Oderkirk. Not only does the organization have an event app, but also an FCICA app that showcases upcoming events, shares recent news, and provides a membership directory.
FCICA is forward-thinking and in looking to the future, the organization has established a group to support the next generation. As Taylor explained, “Our Successor program is currently only during our live events,” offered to commercial flooring professionals aged forty and younger. There is an education session at each of its events sponsored by the Successors.
The Successor group gives younger professionals a unique opportunity to network with others in their age cohort and take advantage of special networking opportunities with knowledgeable and experienced industry professionals, learning from them and the institutional memory they possess. As Taylor noted of millennials, “they’re the leaders of the future but some of them are leaders now.”
The program was, as Taylor explained, “thought of by the successors, provided by the successors, for other successors,” though everyone is welcome. This is just another way to engage the younger generation in the construction trades with a focus on the long-term sustainability of the organization.
A tribute to the work that is being done, last year the organization added fifty new contractor members and hopes it can continue to sustainably grow its membership into the future. Oderkirk provided some insight as to who its ideal membership is and what makes them hard to find.
“Our main member is someone who has one to five installers, so it’s really hard to find those contractors who are doing the work, who aren’t those big guys, but need our resources,” she said, noting that while members are all over the country, the $3 to $5 million range makes prospective members few and far between compared to small or large market players.
The goal is to have 200 members by the end of June 2019, and the association is well on its way. Another goal is to promote the CIM program to grow it to 200 certified individuals as well. Getting members, like securing talent, is a real challenge in the construction trades. As a volunteer organization, it can be difficult to strategically plan, but the team at FCICA remains focused on achieving its goals and visions while adapting and evolving to meet the needs of its members as they change. These efforts allow the organization to remain dynamic and engaging as it promotes new opportunities for its members and the industry to continuously grow and improve.