FCEF Meeting Provides Update on Efforts to Tackle Installer Shortage

Nashville, TN, September 21, 2022-The Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) board met Thursday and Friday in Nashville. Much of the open meeting’s agenda was dedicated to roundtable brainstorming and discussion on what the board sees as the top three critical challenges: recruiting new installers to the trade, job placement for those who attain training through FCEF, and generating ongoing monetary support.

“That’s probably what has surprised me the most-you start peeling the onion and find so many other layers,” said FCEF executive director Jim Aaron.

With its low barrier to entry, opportunities for entrepreneurship, and creative outlets, installation has a wide range of potential initiates but often competes with other trades for the same target pool. Finding untapped groups of candidates and reaching potential installers earlier in their career path were some of the biggest targets identified. Aaron said an informal poll of technical school students showed that 95% were drawn to their respective trade by their high school guidance counselor or a relative or neighbor.

To offer a landing page for those interested in the trade and to show the potentials of a career in installation, FCEF created a targeted recruitment site, flooryourfuture.com.

Attracting new recruits is only part of the equation, however. There must be a pipeline to employment for those who complete floorcovering installation training, the group agreed. There was appetite for studying and possibly mirroring a program enacted by Rod Von Busch of Carpet Decorators Inc. in the Louisville, Kentucky area, which pairs new recruits with local businesses for mentorship and employment.

In discussing the need for ongoing industry support, finance committee member Steve Abernathy calculated the potential financial impact of having a sustainable pool of qualified installers. Assuming that more flooring could be sold if there were more tradespeople to install it, a two-person team of carpet installers would, over the course of their anticipated career, net retailers $4.3 million and manufacturers $1.6 million through the additional capacity created, he estimated. The rough figures for hardwood were even higher.

Following accreditation of FCEF’s basic installation curriculum, the group is set to bring it to roughly a dozen new technical colleges across the country next year. In addition to monetary donations, FCEF is in need of additional warehouse space for donated materials to help supply the classes.

Pic: FCEF executive director Jim Aaron