When two veteran hardwood flooring guys get together it’s the perfect recipe for swapping stories, sharing ideas, and often, a good belly laugh. With more than 80 years of industry experience between them, Wayne Highlander and Rob Johnson can talk into the wee hours of the morning about everything from adhesives to new finishing techniques to lessons learned from past mistakes. They can also dive into the rabbit hole of debating the world’s best guitarist, the toughest guy in Hollywood (John Wayne or Charles Bronson?), and the unexpected delight (or absurdity?) of spray tans. The pair make up one of the best duos in the business and are co-hosts of the popular On the Floor podcast produced by Bona.
Three years ago, Wayne and Rob teamed up to take their conversations and experience to a bigger forum. Their hope was to share useful information for wood flooring pros, chat about stories from the front lines, and mix in a bit of fun along the way. The result was the On the Floor podcast, which celebrated its 100th episode in May 2021.
Recently Wayne and Rob shared their experience of being the co-hosts of the On the Floor podcast with us.
What was the original idea behind the podcast?
Rob & Wayne: We love sharing ideas with others in the industry and this was the perfect platform. Having been contractors in the business for almost four decades, we can talk about relatable real-world topics, share our experience, and tap some of the best minds in the business. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll find someone who does and interview them on the show.
”We love hearing from our fellow contractors in the business…”
Why do folks tune in to the podcast?
Rob & Wayne: Back in the day, knowledge-sharing and training was almost nonexistent. Aside from the handful of available NOFMA trainings, our resource for learning about new skills or products came from contractors in our immediate circle. Today it’s amazing how far the industry has come. Training is widely available through national schools, distribution-held training events, manufacturer training programs, elearning, certification programs, YouTube training, social media – it’s incredible!
But often trainings don’t offer time to kick around concepts or ideas, and have a laugh in the process. We view On the Floor as an additional platform to share, teach, communicate, and learn from each other.
What do you enjoy most about co-hosting the podcast?
Wayne: I enjoy doing the show with Rob because he’s like an encyclopedia but with a foundation of humility. He puts it all out there – every hard lesson, every mistake. That’s what makes him a great trainer, he wants people to learn every aspect of the trade even if some of that knowledge comes from mistakes.
Rob: When I met Wayne 15 years ago I knew I had met my brother from another mother. Wayne’s great sense of humor is complemented by the fact that he is a floorman’s floorman. I have never met anyone with such a passion for the wood floor industry that comes from the heart. Anyone who spends time with Wayne will instantly get swept up in his excitement for what he truly loves – hardwood floors.
What are some of your favorite podcast topics from the past 100 episodes?
Rob & Wayne: We love hearing from our fellow contractors in the business and get a range of questions from challenging installs, to safety concerns, to business growing pains. Here are a few reoccurring themes from this past year that we always enjoy addressing.
- Labor market decline: The decline of the labor market has hit our industry hard in the last 20 years. Contractors are faced with a shrinking labor pool and demanding customers. Hiring someone without hardwood floor experience can mean a long learning curve. We know that pairing training with easy-to-use products, like Bona’s Power Drive, can get new crew members productive and working in a matter of days.
- Subfloor and moisture protection: It’s no secret that moisture can turn a seemingly easy project into a nightmare if not treated properly. In the past, flooring pros had no choice but to use building paper for moisture protection from the subfloor. Today we have roll-on moisture protection, like Bona’s R540, which allows the flooring professional to stay on schedule with the added insurance against moisture-related issues.
- Health and Safety: One of Bona’s goals is to keep contractors safe and healthy. We’re still hearing way too often about health issues related to using old products that are simply not safe for the contractor or the floor owner. Anytime we can help someone understand the risks of products, like acid-cured and the benefits of waterborne, we consider it a big win.
“In the end, the flooring industry is like a family and by utilizing the power of conversation and knowledge, we build each other up and ultimately everyone benefits.”
What do you want folks to take away from On the Floor?
Rob & Wayne: We started On the Floor to have conversations with the community. We’ve received emails from the UK to South Africa and are blown away by the universal appeal. We hope that listeners learn a tip or two to grow their business, explore a new product or technique, and hopefully have a laugh along the way. In the end, the flooring industry is like a family and by utilizing the power of conversation and knowledge, we build each other up and ultimately everyone benefits.
Wayne Highlander (left) is the National Sales Manager of Adhesives at Bona and Rob Johnson (right) is a lead instructor in Bona’s Training Program. On the Floor with Wayne and Rob can be heard on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play.