Varden's UNITE Reveals Initial Board

Rockwell, TX, January 5, 2023-The new Unite nonprofit launched by veteran flooring installer Robert Varden had its first unofficial board meeting this week.Varden called the meeting to clarify his initial vision for the 501(c)3: to amplify the efforts of groups already spearheading training and awareness initiatives.

After spending his career on the installation side of the flooring business, Varden determined that, “The installation crisis is bigger than one company or non-profit. We need a stronger, united voice. I call it ‘UNITE’ because that’s what we do.” 

He touched on ideas to help further existing efforts through collective brainstorming, resource sharing, partnerships with manufacturers and promotion of upcoming training opportunities. While he mentioned hosting awareness and education events, Varden said he does not plan to implement training programs of his own.

“I’ve had people say, ‘Oh, you’re going to compete with FCEF [Floor Covering Education Foundation],’” he said, adding, “Not at all. We want to promote FCEF. We want to promote CFI [Certified Flooring Installers]. We want to promote everybody offering training. It’s going to take a concerted effort on the recruiting side, and it’s going to take a lot.”

Varden noted that it will ultimately be the board members who determine how the vision transpires and what steps will be taken. Confirmed board members are:

* Andrew Smith, Engineered Floors’ customer relations manager for the West Coast

* Ken Kennedy, director of technical services for The Dixie Group

* Larry Marvel, field services technical representative at Tarkett

* Tom Cartmell, branch sales manager with Diverzify

* Seth Gladden, director of marketing for the Meridian Industrial Flooring Division, which includes Taylor Adhesives

* Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association

* Sonny Callahan, co-founder and chair of the National Association of Floor Covering Technicians

* Val Chestohin, lead floorcovering instructor for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades’ District Council 16

* P.J. Arthur, founder and CEO of the National Fiber Installer Certification

* Lew Migliore, founder and president of LGM and Associates

Varden, who personally funded the nonprofit’s launch, said he does not see the organization having a large balance sheet, and he noted the opportunity for grants. 

He plans to finalize the board and call a formal meeting soon to determine next steps.

Related Topics:Engineered Floors, LLC, Tarkett, The Dixie Group