Still buzzing from the high of the CFJ/CFA Awards, Hamish MacGregor celebrates the latest developments in the industry and in the CFA – but warns that there’s still work to be done.
I WAS absolutely delighted the CFJ/CFA Awards was able to be held as a real in-person event last month. After months of lockdown and meetings via Zoom or Teams, it just felt really positive for the industry to meet up again and catch up with friends and colleagues after so long. This was the first time the industry had got together since the start of the pandemic and the vibe was really good.
I understand this was the best-supported awards ever, with about 340 people present, which was very good news. The evening really showed the very best of the flooring industry and it certainly made me value what we have, and hopefully we’ve learned how precious (and fragile) that is.
It was especially good to see this year’s worthy winner of Apprentice of the Year, Jack Gray of Veitchi Flooring, receive his award in person, in front of the whole industry. In 2020 when our apprentice, David McGrath, won this Award, he had to accept it virtually. These guys are the future!
Welcome the new VP
After a period of time when the position of vice president of the CFA has been vacant, I’m delighted Carl Harper of Westcotes Flooring agreed to fill this vacancy at our recent AGM. I would like to welcome him to this role. I hope he finds it fulfilling and enjoyable and I very much look forward to working with him over the coming year. I would also like to take the opportunity to welcome on board the other new members of the CFA council, and to thank them and the continuing officers and council members for their valued contribution to the CFA. A report on the CFA AGM can be found on the CFA news page in this issue of CFJ.
Back to the Time Machine
When I was previously CFA president back in 2006 I wrote an article entitled ‘Visions from my Time Machine’. In it I commented on the fact that it sometimes seemed as though we had been transported back 30 years in time to the ‘bad old days’ when no one was listening to the ‘humble flooring contractor’. At that time we had to work to impractical timescales in poor conditions with inadequate heating and insufficient time to allow floors to dry.
Unfortunately it all too often feels that these conditions have become a reality once again, despite the improvements which site operators were obliged to make on a temporary basis to enable safe working during Covid-19. It’s ironic it took a pandemic to bring about the improvements which enabled all trades on site to do a better job, and I was hoping that these changes to working practices would continue.
But this is far from the case and some of these problems from the past have re-emerged in today’s so-called modern construction industry. So we need to be strong about insisting on the requirements of the British Standards and the relevant CFA guidance.
As far as Covid-19 is concerned, the more we relax our guard and ignore the advice contained within the Site Operating Procedures, the more positive cases we will see on site and instances of workers having to isolate – all of which impacts on business efficiency and profitability.
When it comes to running an efficient site, as I said in my article, we can’t walk on to a site and fit a floor while it’s still wet. Nor can we lay a floor while painters and decorators are in our workspace, any more than we can work around trenches and scaffolding, or impede the work of other trades. If contractors are pushed to try and do this, the end-result will be problems, in the form of delays and customer dissatisfaction.
So here’s an idea for you: I understand that certain other European countries, such as France and Germany have learned the secret of logical flooring installation years ago. In these countries it is common for a new building to be handed over to the client without the flooring being installed at all. The flooring is viewed as a specialist installation which is only carried out once the main structure of the building has been inspected and signed off.
The rooms are therefore well-ventilated, heating is operational and most importantly of all, the floors are dry! This approach is safer, quicker and cheaper than the more chaotic approach which all too often seems to prevail on construction sites in this country.
Let’s see if we can encourage these types of safe working practices on site as we continue to bear down on the coronavirus and hopefully get it under control.