Chairman’s Cut: Your Education, Your Future

There is a lot to learn before someone truly can be successful at the art of manufacturing, selling, or installing wood flooring. However, the intricacies of wood flooring are not something you can learn once and be done. As trends and technology evolve year after year, staying on top of skills, techniques, and new products is a continual process. That is why the April/May issue of Hardwood Floors magazine focuses on the importance of education.  

Early in my career, I learned what little I knew about hardwood flooring from the contractor I worked for and trained under. I thought I knew a lot, and I assumed that he knew a lot more than I did. Later on, I realized how much he really didn’t know and how much I didn’t know either. The good news is that he eventually became a lot better, and so did I. After contracting for 24 years, I attended my first NWFA class, and by being willing to learn and make changes, I took my skill set to another level.

One of the things I see a lot with wood flooring professionals is a desire to stick to “tried and true” techniques, even if they are incorrect. Fear of jobsite failures seems to drive a reluctance to make any changes or develop any new skills. I totally get that. When you are busy, you need things to be predictable. The job needs to get done, and you need to get paid and move on to the next job.

Some professionals are very open to learning new skills and modifying their approaches. Others are not. A few are too willing to chase every new trend that they read about on the internet. The internet can seem like a great resource for information on hardwood flooring. However, there is no easy way to qualify the information. Instead, at my company, we use trusted resources such as the NWFA or individual manufacturers as our source of information.

We always try to give advice on sand and finish and installation directions. As a distributor, we have constant access to industry updates and directions from our manufacturer partners. We also are tied into the NWFA’s technical updates. We want, and need, to be a resource for our customers. 

In addition, we focus on our development by trying to get as much training as possible. I have taken several NWFA courses and taught several more. My son is an NWFA CEU presenter, and my wife is an NWFA Certified Sales Advisor. One of my pro-shop managers has taken every NWFA University course offered! We are always on the lookout for opportunities to receive NWFA training.

It has been much more difficult in this past year to travel for training and many of our manufacturers’ sales representatives have not been able to travel to visit us. Fortunately, quality wood floor training is available online, on your schedule. We have found the NWFA University and many of the recorded webinars hosted on the NWFA’s website incredibly helpful.

In The Value of Education, you will learn how other wood flooring professionals are advancing their careers and their business through education. There are many different ways to learn. I hope that reading the personal stories of how others are making education a priority will inspire you to find a way to grow your knowledge and witness the doors it can open for you both personally and professionally. 

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