What INSTALL Warranty Contractor Designation Means for Architects, Designers & Contractors

Written by INSTALL / March 28, 2024

*This interview with INSTALL executive director David Gross and was originally featured in a recent edition of FLOOR Trends & Installation.

As the flooring industry’s most endorsed and specified training program, the International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) brings together an A-team of manufacturing partners and industry experts to develop cutting-edge curriculum and training for today’s flooring contractors and installers.

The pinnacle of this training is the INSTALL Warranty Contractor — a designation that signifies high-quality installation skills that are backed by an extra layer of labor insurance provided by INSTALL itself. INSTALL Executive Director David Gross offers his insight to architects, designers, and contractors about the many benefits that come with this credential, and he shares the latest changes that are influencing the installation trade.

FLOOR Trends & Installation:  Describe the training floorcovering installers receive to become an INSTALL Warranty Contractor.

David Gross:  An INSTALL Warranty Contractor is a contractor that has agreed to support and use only INSTALL certified installers to perform the work. The training these installers receive to become certified covers a wide range of skills and knowledge that are essential for high-quality floorcovering installation. Depending on a contractor’s specialty, they will use installers trained on carpet, resilient flooring, hardwoods, and substrate preparation. In addition to strict adherence to manufacturer’s specifications, each specialty includes classroom instruction and hands-on training with in-depth attention to technical skills, tools and equipment, health and safety practices, standards and regulations, and maintenance and repair. Installers also learn valuable communication and problem-solving skills that make them more effective within the larger project team. All of this is validated through the certification process.

 

FLOOR:  Who is involved in designing the curriculum and deciding what skills to teach installers?

Gross:  Our curriculum and training course content is developed by the Carpenters International Training Fund in collaboration with industry leaders and manufacturers. To make sure our training remains on the cutting edge of the latest trends, technologies, and best practices, it is also regularly reviewed and updated by technical and education experts. This collaborative approach ensures that INSTALL’s training programs are consistently robust and accurately reflect the collective wisdom and requirements of the floorcovering industry. It also facilitates the continual improvement of the curriculum, so we can adapt to new challenges and opportunities as they arise.

 

FLOOR:  How can architects and designers benefit from specifying an INSTALL Warranty Contractor?

Gross:  Requesting an INSTALL Warranty Contractor gives architects and designers the freedom to select any product or material they desire for a flooring design and the confidence that it will be properly installed. Choosing a Warranty Contractor not only guarantees the flooring will look great and deliver the aesthetic effects promised to the client, it also protects the long-term performance of the floor by ensuring the use of appropriate materials and techniques during installation.

In addition to fulfilling requirements for the flooring manufacturer’s warranty protection, INSTALL Warranty Contractors provide an added insurance policy on labor. When a Warranty Contractor is awarded a project, INSTALL backs the flooring installation, above and beyond the flooring manufacturer’s warranty, at no additional cost. To date, INSTALL has underwritten $1 billion in floorcovering installations performed by its Warranty Contractors, and not a single claim has ever been made. That is unbeatable peace of mind in the design and construction industry, where time is money and callbacks can destroy schedules, budgets, and reputations. INSTALL uses this warranty program as a testament to the quality of its training.

To become a Warranty Contractor, a business must have a solid performance history, proven financial reliability, and all of their installers must carry an INSTALL Certification in substrate prep, carpet, resilient, or hardwood as the job dictates. This vetting helps guarantee high-quality, professional installation and provides a host of other advantages that add value to a project, like:

  • Quality and expertise. INSTALL Warranty Contractors use installers who have undergone rigorous training, ensuring they are up-to-date with the latest installation techniques and products. This guarantees a high level of craftsmanship and reduces the risk of installation-related defects that can compromise a design and lead to costly callbacks and unhappy clients.
  • Communication and coordination. Working with a highly skilled crew and a certified contractor means smoother project execution. Warranty Contractors work efficiently and effectively within the broader project team, facilitating better communication and coordination with architects, designers, and other contractors.
  • Risk mitigation. By specifying an INSTALL Warranty Contractor, architects and designers can avoid some of the risks associated with floorcovering failures that create delays, add costs, and damage professional reputations.
  • Sustainability and compliance. INSTALL Warranty Contractors are knowledgeable about sustainable practices and materials and about compliance with industry standards and regulations. This expertise helps ensure installations align with manufacturer specifications, environmental goals, and building codes.
  • Long-term cost savings. Proper installation by a certified contractor helps maximize the life of the floorcovering, resulting in long-term cost savings for the client and greater environmental sustainability.
  • Professional standards. By choosing INSTALL Warranty Contractors, architects and designers support and promote professional standards within the floorcovering industry. This encourages continuous improvement, training, and certification among contractors and elevates the quality of installations across the board.

It’s a long list of benefits, but overall, it’s a commitment to quality, reliability, and professionalism that benefits everyone involved.

 

FLOOR:  What are the benefits of being an INSTALL Warranty Contractor? Why should a contractor invest in obtaining this certification?

Gross:  Choosing to invest in training and certification can be a difficult decision for flooring contractors, especially for those in the early stages of building a business. However, one of the biggest challenges in growing a business is demonstrating expertise to win projects. Obtaining the training necessary to become an INSTALL Warranty Contractor gives businesses the credentials and credibility needed to earn trust and win new clients. Fortunately, INSTALL training and certification is at no-cost to our industry partners.

Being recognized as an INSTALL Warranty Contractor also comes with other advantages for contractors, such as:

  • Dependable installer performance. Through constant collaboration with leading manufacturers, INSTALL provides extensive training in all aspects of floorcovering installation, from foundational knowledge and basic techniques to advanced and specialized applications. This training ensures that installers are proficient in the latest industry standards, technologies, and materials, so contractors can confidently send their installers out to the job.
  • Competitive advantage. In a crowded market, being an INSTALL Warranty Contractor can differentiate a contractor and provide a competitive edge. It demonstrates a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement that makes it easier to win bids and secure contracts while providing an additional warranty on the work.
  • Networking. Being part of INSTALL opens up networking opportunities with other flooring professionals throughout the industry, including our manufacturing partners, distributors, and fellow contractors. These connections can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and access to valuable resources.
  • Support from manufacturers. Our Warranty Contractors often receive support and recognition from leading manufacturers, who prefer working with certified professionals to ensure their products are installed correctly. This can include access to the latest products, specialized training, and marketing support.
  • Quality assurance. The certification program emphasizes quality assurance practices to ensure that every project completed by an INSTALL Warranty Contractor meets the highest standards of workmanship and professionalism. This focus on quality can lead to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Altogether, the INSTALL training, credibility, networking, and manufacturer support are ideal tools for growing a flooring business.

 

FLOOR:  What are some challenges that INSTALL has had to respond to?

Gross:  Rapid advances in materials and technologies and the ongoing skilled labor shortage are two factors that continue to impact our industry. I wouldn’t call these challenges necessarily, more like opportunities.

Growing consumer demand for sustainability, durability, and aesthetics means flooring manufacturers are constantly introducing new products. So, we must make sure our INSTALL training is regularly updated to equip installers with the latest installation skills and knowledge to keep pace with these changes. One example is our addition of Concrete Polishing training to our offering. Concrete polishing is a great way to reclaim existing concrete floors and make them look new again, so it has become an important piece of the sustainability puzzle. Seeing a trend in polished concrete and recognizing a growth opportunity in the market, we worked side-by-side with manufacturers and contractors to develop a curriculum based on real-world challenges. With these specialized skills, trained concrete polishing contractors have a distinct advantage when trying to win high-profile commercial projects where professional results matter.

Regarding skilled labor, addressing the shortage is a natural fit for INSTALL because we specialize in training installers to do high-quality work. But more than that, our training and certification programs also provide contractors with a dependable crew that requires minimal or no supervision. This benefit of training is invaluable for contractors working with small crews because they can count on their installers to work efficiently and independently. Most importantly, when installers are INSTALL-trained, contractors can count on the work to be done right the first time.

 

FLOOR:  What’s the takeaway for architects, designers, and installers?

Gross:  The INSTALL Warranty Contractor designation is a unique offering in the flooring industry because it guarantees that the installation work is of the highest quality and stands behind that guarantee with a free extended warranty on labor. For architects, designers, and facility owners, it’s peace of mind that the flooring material will look great and last. For contractors and installers, it’s a significant step in building a positive reputation and growing a business.

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