As much for the makers as the doers

David Hibbert highlights the work the CFA does for its manufacturer members, who make up about 14% of its total membership

I’VE always been clear that the Contract Flooring Association was established to represent contractors. That remains our focus to this day, but we’re also increasingly representing other companies in the supply chain, including manufacturers, distributors and consultants.

Indeed, every sector of the flooring industry is represented and companies from every sector benefit from membership of the association.

In past columns, I’ve spoken about the benefits of CFA membership in general but in this column, I specifically want to highlight the work the CFA does for manufacturer members, who make up about 14% of our total membership.

Manufacturers’ key role
Manufacturers play a key role in the flooring industry, developing new innovations, time saving products and evermore environmentally-friendly advances to help the industry move forwards.

There are currently about 70 manufacturer members of the CFA, many of whom are keen to get involved with the discussions and decision-making that goes in to defining the CFA’s position on matters such as government lobbying, the development of industry standards and representation through organisations such as the Construction Products Association (CPA).

The manufacturers’ committee meets every quarter, with each meeting actively attended by about 30 members. These meetings offer manufacturers a great opportunity to network with their peers and get a better picture of what’s happening in the industry.

A wide range of issues that directly affect manufacturers are discussed at each meeting, which have proven to be particularly useful for technical staff through the exchange of ideas.

And even though the committee includes many competitor manufacturers, these meetings provide a positive environment for member companies to work together for the good of the industry and, by association (see what I’ve done there?), their own companies.

Influence and lobbying
A vital role that the manufacturers’ committee fulfils is in the influencing of new industry standards that affect virtually everybody connected with the flooring industry. For example, a sub-committee of the manufacturers’ committee is currently working on a full update of BS 8203, the code of practice for the installation of resilient floorcoverings.

The committee has also recently been heavily involved in the revision of two other British Standards: BS 8201 code of practice for the Installation of flooring of wood and timber-based products and BS 5325 code of practice for the installation of textile floor coverings.

The CFA lobbies government and other organisations on behalf of manufacturers on broad developments in policy areas, such as health and safety and sustainability, to ensure manufacturers’ concerns and input are considered by the people who put the legislation in place and which affects the way we all must operate.

Manufacturer members are naturally the people we listen to when establishing our position on the various issues involved.

It might be considered that the Construction Products Association (CPA) represents construction products manufacturers and distributors in a similar way that the CFA represents member companies in the flooring industry.

But the CFA is a gateway to this representation and co-ordinates the flooring industry’s position on them. Delivering consistent messages through both organisations amplifies and reinforces the views of our members within the wider construction sector.

Guardian of the industry
In many ways, the CFA tries to act as a guardian (you might even go so far as saying regulator) of the flooring industry, providing guidance and protection for its members.

Guidance in terms of demonstrating how to achieve and maintain the highest of standards across our industry, and protection by lobbying the bodies that impose legislation and mandatory requirements on our industry to ensure our members aren’t disadvantaged by such legislation in relation to other sectors of the construction industry or overseas suppliers.

In providing a blueprint for the delivery of best practice, the CFA has produced The CFA Guide to Contract Flooring. Considered to be one of the flooring industry’s ‘bibles’, it’s produced with the help of technical experts from members of the manufacturers’ committee.

The guide is probably best summed up by CFA ceo, Richard Catt: ‘The CFA Guide to Contract Flooring is a unique document for anyone involved in our industry. Written as a plain English guide, it sits somewhere between the British Standard and manufacturers’ recommendations, covering the installation of all the most commonly used materials in one volume.

‘It naturally refers to British Standards as best practice, but also discusses some of the background to provide a real-world insight into how to successfully complete a quality installation of a floorcovering.’

As you can see, manufacturers have a huge role to play in the CFA, not only for their own benefit, but to ensure we all continue to push up standards across the board and enhance the reputation of the industry as a whole.

The CFA actively encourages any manufacturer that serves the flooring industry to become a member, to help make us stronger as an organisation and to take advantage of the numerous benefits available to CFA members.
David Hibbert is president of the CFA