You may not realize it, but our industry has a vibrant innovation ecosystem. Advanced technologies that better the lives of installers and homeowners alike are developed and deployed by highly talented innovators across the supply chain. People often don’t see the scale and depth of this innovative and entrepreneurial activity, and NWFA wanted to change that.
The NWFA will be hosting its very own competition at the upcoming Wood Flooring Expo in Tampa, Florida, April 11-14. Three brave finalists will have the chance to pitch industry-related business ideas to a team of wood flooring gurus onstage during the “Opening Splash” Session.
Following the presentations, Expo attendees will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist via the Expo mobile app. The winner will be announced during the “Final Dive” Session. The Grand Prize winner will receive a customized package of NWFA Marketing and Education Products and Services valued at more than $15,000. Read on to meet our finalists.
Insight Flooring Technologies LLC
Business Idea: QuoteHero App
QuoteHero is an app that allows you to measure the square footage of rooms, estimate jobs, and close sales on the spot. The app was created by a flooring professional for flooring professionals. It’s also a white label application that you can customize for your flooring business with your logo, line items, prices, and more. The simple and user-friendly interface makes it easy, and even fun, for flooring contractors and estimators to generate an estimate. QuoteHero follows the installer’s natural workflow, cutting out the need for manual calculations or double-entry.
How did you come up with the idea?
QuoteHero was created out of frustration and as a result of determination. As a flooring professional and business owner, juggling many balls at a time, I was overwhelmed with the inefficiency of the whole estimation process. We extensively searched and tried all of the software and apps. They were either too general or too complicated and antiquated, let alone the cost. So we set ourselves to the task of designing and developing the most intuitive and easy-to-use tool. And what started as a small in-home app is now a tool that can help many people like me in the industry.
Sheldrick’s Hardwood Flooring
Business Idea: Nail Assassin
Nail Assassin is a semi-heavy, robust, and accurate tool. It is a huge time saver, and most importantly, this tool will cause the floor’s surface less damage than a traditional nail set would, leaving a more uniform and visually appealing floor. Typical nails used are hand-forged nails or steel-cut nails. Many of these have decorative nail heads that add accent and authenticity to the wood floor. Typically, the nails need to be set at least 1/8” below the surface, and a hammer and nail set is used to countersink the nails. Issues that commonly occur when installing, sanding, and finishing wide plank floors include:
- sanding off the head of the nail to a shiny surface;
- damaging the floor from the movement of a traditional nail set/hammer marks;
- fire hazardous sparks around dust;
- damaging the sandpaper being used;
- having to stop sanding to set a nail; and
- having the wrong size nail set and hitting fingers/knuckles when using the traditional handheld nail set that has been around since the early 1900s.
How did you come up with the idea?
The story began in November 2008 when a client called me about dust free refinishing for his reclaimed wide plank yellow pine floors while having a local contractor install them. During the estimate, the customer showed me a 25 lb. nail box full of Tremont’s decorative wrought head black oxide cut nails. With a smile, of course, he proceeded to give me a history lesson on the nails. It was very interesting, and he was very proud of them. We agreed to have the contractor set the nails before I came in to refinish the floors; however, this task was not completed. I realized this when I took my first pass with my floor sander and shaved multiple heads off and had sparks flying. Due to the shape of the nail heads, at a glance, they appeared to be set. The customer wanted to have this job completed for Thanksgiving, so I proceeded to set the nails for eight hours as the holiday was less than a week away. During these eight hours, there were a few nails that were very stubborn, so I drilled a hole in a piece of 3/4” plate steel with padding strips underneath to avoid damage. The hole was the same size as my red nail set. So when I hit the nail set with my 4 lb. sledgehammer, all of the force set the stubborn nail without damaging the antique floor’s surface and saved me time. I have used this method multiple times and have evolved this idea into the Nail Assassin.
Better Timber Flooring
Business Idea: Quikbrace
The Quikbrace is the most innovative tool since the secret nailer. It was designed and developed by the team at Better Timber Flooring to help them lay tongue and groove floors efficiently and effectively. The product has been established for more than 12 years, with more than 400 units made and sold.
The brace is a multifunction flooring clamp; it can assist floor layers to stay standing up and not having to get up and down all day, every day, every week. It produces momentum and saves time upward of a minute per row. Add this time up per row, hour, day, and job, and you will see results and a return on investment in the first job or two.
The air-driven ram not only pulls boards together, but can push them too, using the brace on all tongue and groove flooring installation methods. Heavy duty replaceable spikes anchor into subfloors/battens/joists quickly without damaging or chipping the subfloor. A uniquely designed wall foot attachment pushes off the wall, clamping the last boards effortlessly. Direct Stick, using strips on top of the boards, can pull multiple boards together very quickly laying meters at a time.
How did you come up with the idea?
I started as a cabinet maker at 14 years old and laid parquetry when needed. I then started to sand and finish the parquetry. The better prepared the subfloor was, the flatter I laid the parquetry. Then I started to lay timber floors as we knew how they needed to be finished and sanded, so we laid them better and flatter than most of the builders for whom we did work.
About 2004, I started to lay recycled timber floors and secondhand timber floorboards. That’s when I invented the Quikbrace. We also did decking timber boards, and this machine has been a real benefit. I realized that if it helped me, it would help others.
The process of inventing everything to do with this and finding ways to get it to the trade has been a great journey so far. It has strengthened me as a person. It has brought me other great ideas to develop other products, and inspired me to continue challenging myself in other areas of my life. I’m still on the sanding machines today and still passing down the good traditions that were taught to me 30 years ago.