INSTALL, the flooring industry’s most endorsed and specified training program, is leading the charge in developing and implementing a comprehensive concrete polishing curriculum. The organization has worked hand-in-hand with manufacturers, contractors and industry influencers over the past few years to craft a new curriculum based on real-world challenges. Today, this landmark training is nearing completion and will soon be implemented across the United States and Canada.
The organization’s ever-evolving curriculum is designed to adapt to trends in the floorcovering industry – and polished concrete is one of the biggest growth opportunities in the market. In order to put the finishing touches on its newest specialization, INSTALL has turned to a collection of leading voices in the concrete polishing world. Two recent events, an apprentice course in New Jersey and a three-day roundtable at the International Training Center in Las Vegas, NV, solidified exciting new developments.
Training the Future of Installers
The Thomas C. Ober Carpenters Training Center in Hammonton, NJ is a bustling place. Home to a wide variety of education and training, it serves a unique role in preparing the future tradesmen and women of New Jersey. In early February, INSTALL leadership gathered at the center to observe an apprentice concrete polishing class. The 40-hour course is required for students to complete their apprenticeship and covers vocabulary, industry news, machines, tooling, chemicals and processes. It also illustrates the evolution of concrete polishing methods and some of the latest trends in the industry. In addition to the classroom portion, students received intensive hands-on training.
Jennifer Faller of Concrete Insite, a well-respected independent technical consultant in the concrete industry, was the guest of honor during the February event. She helped lead the course and brought a wealth of real-world experience and a tremendous amount of technical knowledge to the classroom. “Faller’s passion and energy were contagious, and the apprentices were impressed by her attention to detail,” said David Gross, INSTALL Instructor. “Her experience in concrete construction, manufacturing and installation allowed her to really connect with the students and provide unique insights.”
Gross and Faller also worked with the apprentices to complete a 5-step wet polish, finishing with a 3000-grit resin. The edges were also completed with a coordinating grit – adding to the technical prowess of the course. “As an instructor, it’s always satisfying to see the class transform from no knowledge of polishing concrete to having specialized, marketable polished concrete installation skills,” said Gross. “By working as a team and showing initiative, they are able to build their skillset together.”
Industry Influencers Gather at the ITC
Faller played such an integral part in the success of the apprentice class, she was invited by John T. McGrath Jr., Executive Director of INSTALL, to join him and a dozen other concrete industry professionals for a three-day roundtable working session at the Carpenters International Training Center (CITC) in Las Vegas, NV. Comprised of concrete manufacturers, polished concrete contractors and independent representatives like Faller, the group discussed the future of INSTALL’s polished concrete curriculum and provided insight into hands-on training components of the course.
“The curriculum development session was a highly professional, well-run and organized experience,” said Faller. It was a great use of time, and people gave respect and attention to the curriculum advisors. This is something that is lacking in our industry,” she added. While the curriculum is not yet finished, Faller, McGrath and the rest of the group made major strides. They estimate the curriculum is roughly 75% complete and McGrath and the CITC team of trainers and educators are aiming for a late 2019 release.
For Faller, this is an exciting time for the industry and represents a major opportunity for INSTALL to exact change in the world of concrete polishing. “It was so refreshing that INSTALL wanted to listen to what we [concrete polishing professionals] know and how we can help floor coverers and installers,” she concluded. “This new dialogue between INSTALL and the larger industry is unique and powerful.”