A Mentor Makes a Difference

The NWFA’s Certification Program was developed to recognize and promote competence of wood flooring professionals throughout the industry. Becoming an NWFACP Certified Inspector validates an individual’s wood flooring knowledge and expertise. This certification helps an individual provide his or her customers with the most thorough inspection services available.

“The role of an inspector is a critical one as your document is very powerful in this business, it has to be right,” says Drew Kern, Infinity Claims Management Solutions in Milton, Ontario and NWFACP Certified Inspector. “What I say to a lot of new inspectors coming in, is you either create a lawsuit, you prevent a lawsuit, or you redirect a lawsuit, and it’s all based on the truth.”

To be eligible for inspection certification, an individual must have three years of experience in wood flooring installation and sand and finish. Additionally, he or she must have completed intermediate installation training and intermediate sand and finish training successfully, as well as the NWFACP Inspector training. All NWFACPs are expected to abide by a Code of Conduct.

To complete the program, a four-hour, open-book test based on NWFA Installation and Sand and Finish guidelines, and other industry publications, must be completed. In addition, two report scenarios simulating real-world complaints must be submitted within 10 days of completing the written test. Before certification is awarded, three inspection reports must be submitted to NWFACP for review and approval within one year of passing the written test.

The program is a demanding one, and many students find that writing reports can be somewhat challenging. To help facilitate the learning process, the NWFA recently launched a mentor program. The mentor program is available to all new students, new inspectors, and existing inspectors in need of help. The program is also used by the Hearing Committee when an Inspector has been found to be in violation of the Code of Conduct.

“We have people who have been working in the industry their entire life, and they know all about hardwood floors, but they don’t know how to document the investigative aspect of it correctly,” says Kern, who is currently serving as a mentor. “It can be a learning curve for some because it is an entirely different skill set. We want to be sure these students walk away with the ability to write a report that is well articulated, based on facts, and stands up in court.”

The Mentor program includes the following benefits:

  • Review of data collection and assistance in the formulation of a written report.
  • Review of all reports before submission to the commissioning party or NWFACP.
  • Potential ride-along during an actual inspection.

When a mentor has been assigned to a student, the following expectations will occur:

  • The mentor must review a minimum of three reports from the inspector/student.
  • Student will be required to continue in the mentor program until the mentor submits a letter to the NWFACP recommending otherwise.
  • The inspector/student may appeal to the NWFACP Board of Directors if he or she feels treatment has been unfair.

The mentor will have the following qualifications:

  • An NWFACP Certified Wood Flooring Inspector in good standing.
  • An NWFACP Certified Wood Flooring Inspector for a minimum of five years.
  • At least three references from other inspectors, technical directors, or claims analysts.
  • From a different geographical location than the inspector/student, unless qualified otherwise (potential conflict of interest).
  • Signed an NWFACP confidentiality agreement.
  • Willing to review student reports in a timely manner.
  • Reports will be evaluated using the same form as the Report Review Committee.
  • Should be actively involved with NWFA (Committee, Board member, officer, director, volunteer instructor, etc.).

Students have found tremendous value in the mentor program already. Some of the individuals participating in the program shared their thoughts.

“Drew spent approximately 10 hours on the phone with me discussing the inspection writing process,” shared Kris Lassman, Lassman National Installations, in Parkland County, Alberta. “It was the most valuable time I ever could have imagined, learning from someone who is a truly experienced expert in the field.”

“He has been a huge help and has given me a lot of confidence and tips on my writing,” says Allen Townsell, Arndt & Herman Building Products, in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. “He has given me a lot of good advice and spent a lot of time helping me via phone and email, and I greatly appreciate it.”

Stacy Brown is the Editor/Publisher of Hardwood Floors Magazine, the official magazine of the National Wood Flooring Association. She can be reached at stacy.brown@nwfa.org.

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