From Floor Covering Weekly—Scott Humphrey faced big challenges such as identity crisis and an unclear reason for existing when he took the CEO position of the World Floor Covering Association.
Now the situation has changed considerably. One of the hallmarks of Humphrey’s leadership has been his ability to make WFCA a strong voice in the industry and create meaningful partnerships and alliances that support the industry’s growth and success be it with CFI or the fcB2B.
“I go in and find common ground and how we can work together,” Humphrey said, pointing, for example, to the strong relationship that has formed between the WFCA and the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and its leader Michael Martin.
“NWFA is a great partner and Michael Martin has become a good friend. I admire his leadership and the change he has been able to bring about in his relatively short tenure,” said Humphrey. “In fact, there is a new breed of association leadership that is working together to solve industry challenges. This was the catalyst behind the formation some two years ago of the FCLC (Floor Covering Leadership Council). The leaders of these non-profit associations share the same desire for the floor covering industry. We want to combine our voices where possible to bring about much needed change. We check our egos at the door and have the tough discussions that lead to solutions.”
One result of the Great Recession was the loss of two generations of professional installers causing a shortage of skilled installers industry-wide. Last summer, the WFCA added CFI under its umbrella and provided an infusion of capital necessary to continue and expand CFI’s installation training and certification programs.
“We have professional flooring dealers and professional flooring installers and the consumer doesn’t know the difference,” said Humphrey. “The more of us fighting the battle, the greater chance for success.”
In addition, he said that launching the WFCA University will provide regional and online training in all aspects of successful retail including sales, leadership, back office management and installation.
“We will have over 40 online modules available by midsummer and have scheduled regional training nationwide on all of the skill sets mentioned above. The challenge is getting retailers to understand the value of trained employees and the inherent cost of unskilled labor,” he explained.
WFCA also partnered with fcB2B earlier this year with the goal of making its digital business model a reality for the flooring industry. The arrangement included WFCA covering the costs of a full time executive director, Phillip Zolan, to successfully implement the fcB2B model.
Membership too has been a challenge for the WFCA — it had been on the decline for more than a decade — but that is something Humphrey is intent on changing as well.
“We will always seek to grow membership. But those that focus solely on growth and ignore retention and engagement won't survive for long,” explained Humphrey. “With that said, we are in a much better place than we have been in years. Following 10 plus consecutive years of declining membership, we are in our third year of consecutive growth. ASAE states that a healthy association has 10 percent of the potential membership of their target audience. We already have close to 15 percent of all the retailers in North America and are working diligently to continue the current pattern of growth. In addition, we are focused on growing membership in CFI and increasing engagement in fcB2B.” (ASAE represents some 21,000 association executives.)
Humphrey will also be at Domotex Asia this year looking to grow membership globally.
“Though the WFCA already has members from several countries, we are looking to expand our reach. We want the positives that are occurring in our membership here in North America to reach others who are feeling similar pains,” he said.
Here too, installation is a focal point. “One of the key areas we hope to address is the worldwide skilled installation labor shortage. CFI is already established in multiple countries. In fact they have traveled internationally and conducted training in some countries all over the world. We are looking to expand that reach and help address the labor crisis that has the potential to derail and permanently change our industry,” Humphrey said.