The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) was founded as an organization by the industry, for the industry. Participation and feedback from its members are a cornerstone of the NWFA’s growth and significance.
Our organization thrives due to the generous support of volunteer instructors, committee members, board members, and numerous others. To thank those members who go above and beyond, the NWFA recognizes volunteers with Service Awards. Service to the industry is defined as giving of one’s time and expertise to advance industry programs, projects, and initiatives.
Achievements are calculated based on a cumulative summation of areas of service within the NWFA. These areas include, but are not limited to, participating on NWFA boards, participating on committees, mentoring, participating in the Hardwood Federation Fly-In, proctoring for the NWFACP, and contributing to Hardwood Floors magazine.
The Vanguard Service Award is the first award one can achieve. This award requires earning 25 service points.
Members then can earn the Ambassador Service Award, which requires earning the Vanguard Award and an additional 25 service points.
Specific service activities and their respective points may be found at nwfa.org.
Industry Leadership Award
The purpose of the NWFA Industry Leadership Award is to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the wood flooring industry through service and leadership. This year, Mike Hodges, Territory Manager for Pallmann USA, was awarded this honor.
Throughout his career, Hodges has been responsible for multiple innovations in the wood flooring industry that contractors use every day to help them complete successful projects. One of those products is the intercoat abrasion pad, or “maroon pad” as it is known today.
While working for one of the first companies to introduce waterborne finishes and sealers in the United States, Hodges was tasked with figuring out how to get one coat of finish to stick to another and how to abrade waterborne sealers. Steel wool, which was common for the time, was not an option for waterborne finishes and sealers. Also, the screens that were being used were too aggressive for the finishes and sealers at the time.
After looking through a cabinet in the warehouse, Hodges stumbled upon a 7’’ maroon-colored Scotch-Brite pad. After abrading a small section of freshly coated waterborne sealer, Hodges then took three of the pads and stuck them onto a 16’’ white pad and under a buffer. The results were exactly what he set out to achieve. Talks began with 3M, the manufacturer of the Scotch-Brite pad, which ultimately led to 3M producing these maroon pads in 16’’ versions for Hodges’s company.
Another major innovation that Hodges played a role in was the discovery and implementation of dust containment vacuum systems. Hodges was in charge of running training schools for a manufacturer, which were being held in the same warehouse as where product was being shipped. The warehouse manager kept complaining that every time panels were sanded during the schools, the warehouse would end up coated in fine dust, which took days to clean up.
Using his resources, Hodges contacted a local custom vacuum shop in Denver and had a special vacuum on a dolly created. Hodges then modified the buffer he was using by adding a hose connection and dust skirt to the buffer to allow for better dust pickup. Soon after, he connected the edger to this same modified vacuum, and later the big sander. The rest, as they say, is history.
“These are just a couple of the many stories where Mike’s creative thinking had an impact on product developments for the industry,” says Mark Weglowski, Brand Manager, Pallmann USA. “Mike is a very humble and modest individual when it comes to discussing many of the achievements that he has had during his 30-plus year career. We firmly believe that individuals like Mike should be recognized for their dedication, contributions, and passion for the wood flooring industry.”
Women’s Industry Network Award
Barbara Titus, of Sheoga Hardwood and Paneling, in Middlefield, Ohio, was the first recipient of the newly created NWFA Women’s Industry Network Award. The award was presented by 3M’s Jim Schumacher.
Titus was one of the founders of the NWFA Responsible Procurement Program (RPP) and has served on a number of committees and boards. She is also the person who introduced the NWFA to the Gary Sinise Foundation.
After providing flooring for a veteran and his wife in Marion, Ohio, Titus got to know some of the individuals who would later start the Gary Sinise Foundation. At the time, Sinise was the spokesperson for another veteran organization, but felt he could do more, and do it better, on his own.
After working on the local project, Titus made a phone call to the NWFA, and said, “I believe in what Gary Sinise is doing for our veterans; I’ve seen it personally. I would like Sheoga to provide the wood flooring for all of these homes myself, but we’re a small manufacturer and we just can’t do it alone. The mission Gary is working on will provide more than 10 homes per year for our veterans.”
And, in response, the NWFA unanimously said yes resulting in nearly $5 million in product and labor donations by NWFA members to date.
Community Service Awards
Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center’s (PELC’s) multipurpose room needed a new floor, as their 15-year-old VCT floor was old and worn. With budget constraints, getting a new floor was not feasible. Aacer Flooring, based in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, immediately saw PELC’s obstacle as an opportunity. With PELC being located approximately two miles from Aacer Flooring’s manufacturing facility, a high percentage of Aacer Flooring’s 175 employees live in the area and either attended the school themselves or have children currently enrolled there.
Working with school officials, Aacer and PELC came up with a win-win situation for all parties. Aacer could give back to their local community and gain a training venue for an annual event, while PELC would gain a beautiful new hardwood floor.
Each fall, Aacer holds a three-day training event on the installation of their sport flooring systems for their network of dealers. When the school is held at an actual jobsite, the learning experience is heightened. Aacer donated all the maple flooring for the project. Other materials and services were in kind donations from Aacer vendors, and the installation was performed by Aacer’s Wisconsin dealer, Stalker Sports Floors.
PELC’s multipurpose room is a high-profile area. It is used for everything from physical education classes to youth basketball practices and tournaments to softball pitching practice. Being able to give back to a local school that has given so much to the community is a source of pride for Aacer.
Brian Williams, Director of Buildings, Grounds, and Transportation for the Peshtigo School District, said, “It was truly a positive experience working with the professionals from Aacer Flooring. The new wood gym floor that they and their dealers installed looks amazing! We greatly appreciate the generous donations from Aacer Flooring and their partners that will benefit our students and our community members for decades to come.”
Horizon Forest Products
Horizon Forest Products has been dedicated to giving back to the community since it was founded in 1992. Based in the mid-Atlantic, the company donates flooring and flooring materials to many organizations, including HeroHomes, Military Missions in Action (MMIA), and the Stepping Stones Foundation.
HeroHomes and MMIA work in their communities in Maryland and North Carolina, respectively, to help disabled veterans and their families by building or completely remodeling homes. In addition, the Stepping Stones Foundation builds homes for at-risk and homeless children in Texas communities.
“We feel truly blessed to have an opportunity to reach out and lend a helping hand to these organizations that do so much for their communities. The impact from the hard work done in these organizations is remarkable,” says David Williams, Vice President at Horizon Forest Products. “We can’t think of worthier causes than supporting disabled veterans who served our country and helping young children that are at risk of being homeless to have the chance to live in the beautiful homes they deserve.”
The Just for Fun Roller Skating Rink, in McHenry, Illinois, has been around since the 1920s – originally beginning as a dance hall. It is recognized as a pillar of the community, and Ridgefield Flooring was quick to get involved when the rink sent out an SOS for repairs after it was vandalized and in danger of closing.
“When we saw the message asking for contractors to donate labor and materials, we knew we could help,” shares Jake Mitchell, General Manager of Ridgefield Flooring. “Our company rebuilt the snack bar and made a few other minor fixes.”
While Mitchell and his crew were there working, they became good friends with the owner of the rink, Lisa. Additionally, Mitchell’s children began to spend more time there, making their work at the rink feel even more impactful.
“While Lisa and I were talking one day, she mentioned that the floors were in dire need of being refreshed,” adds Mitchell. “I ran into Toby Merrill, Contractor Specialist at DuraSeal, and the lightbulb went off. I wasn’t expecting anything, but before I knew it, Toby was calling to say DuraSeal could donate enough finish to coat all 10,000 square feet of flooring.”
Upon receiving the donation of finish, Ridgefield Flooring made a few minor repairs, buffed and vacuumed the floor, and then rolled out the finish.
Initially, Merrill and Mitchell were unsure if the finish would bond and hold up to the abuse of skating. “Toby asked if we did adhesion tests, so I replied that although our team was not very scientific, we could be abusive! The finish survived lots of roller hockey stops,” adds Mitchell.
Olde Tyme Craftsmen LLC
New England area designers and contractors were invited to participate in the total makeover of the historic 1906 Frank. E. Anderson House, owned by the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts. The Anderson House, now renamed Mercy Hall by the college, has served many purposes over the years. Originally built by a wealthy shoe baron for his new bride, the lavish home became a center of art, culture, and hospitality.
Old Tyme Craftsmen LLC was one of the teams selected to participate in the remodel. “We were going to repair and refinish just one room for the designer we knew. Because there was no good place to stop due to room flow and the designers wanting the flooring stained a darker color, the project quickly grew into sanding, staining, and refinishing the entire first floor and the grand staircase,” said Ron Charpentier, Owner, Old Tyme Craftsmen LLC.
The company provided labor and materials all gratis, with the team’s contribution totaling more than $18,000.
In August 2018, the home was opened for tours to the general public to raise funds for the Home Health & Hospice Care organization of southern New Hampshire. Home Health & Hospice Care has been a provider of home care and hospice services since 1883. Serving 25 communities in southern New Hampshire including Manchester, Nashua, Derry, Salem, Merrimack, and beyond, the organization provides traditional home care, inclusive of nursing, rehabilitation, therapies, medical social work, and licensed nursing assistants.