What Makes a Winner?

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When you hear the word winner, what comes to mind? I think of words such as quality, innovation, dedication, perseverance, even legacy. I also think about Wood Floor of the Year…craftsmen and artists…and sports heroes (bear with me; I promise I’m going somewhere).

During a pivotal scene in one of my favorite movies, The Replacements starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, coach McGinty (Hackman) is challenging Falco (Reeves) during a sideline timeout with the game on the line. With an end zone play coming, he asks, “What do you want to do?” And Falco replies, “I want the ball, coach!” and McGinty says, “Winners always do!”

You see, when the game is on the line, you have to want the ball, and when things need to be taken care of at work, it’s the same thing. Except in our industry, I’d say the “ball” is taking advantage of every opportunity to advance your business and your skills.

The June/July issue is one of the most-anticipated issues of Hardwood Floors each year. It’s the annual NWFA Wood Floor of the Year (WFOY) issue, which showcases innovative craftsmanship and design in wood flooring installations. In other words, this issue features those “winners” who fearlessly took the ball and ran with it.

The contest is judged by flooring industry experts (except our members choice, which is chosen by you), reinforcing that the awards truly recognize quality work and craftsmanship. The people judging the entries are looking for craftsmanship, design quality, and creativity. Some do the same type of work as you every day, and others are industry peers that bring a different perspective to the contest, assuring that the floors rank among the best – in the world of wood flooring.

These recognitions emphasize how your company performs at a level that makes your customers want to hire you. Even participation in the WFOY contest shows you perform at a different level, so watch for projects that could be entered and study the categories so when you are out there selling, you will see opportunities for your next entry.

But scoring under pressure doesn’t happen with just luck. It comes with a lot of preparation – studying play calls, watching film, and practice runs. Another opportunity to step up your game is to challenge yourself to achieve one of the latest elite designations in the NWFA Certified Professionals program: Certified Craftsman and Certified Master Craftsman. These designations were developed to give certified wood flooring professionals a means to further validate their craft by showcasing specific skill sets. With the addition of these certifications, NWFA has a complete career path in place that allows an individual to move from having little to no experience, to becoming a master of our trade.

To become an NWFA Certified Craftsman, the candidate must be an NWFA member in good standing, have been an NWFA Certified Professional Installer and Certified Sand/Finisher for a minimum of one year, and successfully fulfill all of the requirements for a total of four of the Specialty Skillset Badges.

To become an NWFA Certified Master Craftsman, the candidate must be a Certified Craftsman, complete all seven of the Specialty Skillset Badges, attend the NWFA Inspector School, and submit a final examination medallion, which will meet a detailed set of specifications as designated by the judges.

Specialty Skillset Badges include Circular/Curved Application, Colors and Finishes, Marquetry/Inlays, Medallions, Parquetry, Textured Wood, and Wood Bending. Each of these skill sets is clearly defined within the simple online application process. Through this process, those who qualify can earn individual Specialty Skillset Badges, work toward becoming a Certified Craftsman, and ultimately work toward becoming a Certified Master Craftsman. As an added bonus, fulfillment of these badges also meets the requirements for the Wood Floor of the Year entry categories.

So what are you waiting for? Pick up the ball, get in the game, and advance your career and your business.

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