New Video Series Launched:  Is the FCEF a Bust? Episode 1

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Is the Floor Covering Education Foundation (FCEF) a Bust? Episode 1 Transcript:

Robert Alexander: It doesn't serve the industry. It doesn't serve the new installers. It doesn't serve current installers. It doesn't even serve the FCEF. 

Jared King: Crisis management is an urgent issue in the flooring industry and installer jobs are playing the biggest role. The reason? A skilled labor shortage and how the falling numbers of specialty installers and construction is impacting the delivery of construction projects. Add that, the average age of an installer today at 55 years old, and you can't but worry about the entire industry. 

According to the report from The Blackstone Group, the industry is losing anywhere from 3000 to 6000 installers a year. Scott Humphrey, a prior executive at Shaw Industries, and now CEO of the World Floor Covering Association, to be part of the solution, his plan, create a new nonprofit organization in the Floor Covering Education Foundation, and funding it from industry partners with contributions of $10 million. 

The problem? Young labor between the ages of 18 to 25 are seeking jobs in other industries. And the most concerning, the FCEF’s solution seems to already have issues. The individual who is very vocal about why is Robert Alexander. We spoke with Robert over the last few days about the FCEF question. His strong opinions on installer problems and why technology is the best solution. 


Robert Alexander: Let's assume the FCEF truck idea is very efficient, and can do 52 events a year. That only yields the industry 2600 new installers. And I haven't even included occupancy and attrition values yet. Wrong direction. 

Interviewer: Yes.

Robert Alexander: The result is that if the FCEF or the WFCA is going to get involved with the FCEF, yeah, they're going to put people into seats in those trailers. But it's not going to produce a win for the industry. And that's what we're after here. 

Voiceover: Who is Robert Alexander? We followed him around to understand. He works when he's not building his software company, BuildMyWay, installing tile and fixing installation problems, mostly in the residential market. His business, mostly fixing installation issues from other contractors. 

Jared King: Wow! So there's that many installation problems when creating a business?

Robert Alexander:  Yeah, you bet. Actually, I have been in front of many of my clients that have actually had very sad stories. Example is that I pulled up many floors before if I've seen no underlayment, or I have seen underlayment that was improperly installed. Or I've even seen as bad as uncoupling membrane, a DITRA product stapled, not thin-set, stapled to a wood substrate.

Jared King: Wow!

Robert Alexander: So I made a business of it. I created a business because there were so much of it. And it allowed me to go from project to project fixing everybody's problems. 

Voiceover: Those problems Robert is talking about are costing the construction industry billions. And according to the AGCS, a risk management company, 36% of those costs are due to product defects and faulty workmanship. Luckily, we caught up with Robert here at this client's house where the homeowner just a month ago hired a former tile contractor who installed four showers at the low cost of $6,500. All without any waterproofing. 

Aaron Turnbull: Well, I’ll tell you one thing, don’t go for the cheapest one that's for darn sure. Learn that the hard way. Nah, I went throw a 1, 2, actually 3. You're the fourth one on the tile.

Robert Alexander: Okay.

Aaron Turnbull: Nah, it’s the old saying you kind of get what you pay for. That’s, that’s a fact.   

Jared King: What do you make of the FCEF’s effort to recruit new installers?

Robert Alexander: It's a waste of money.