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Relishing the challenge as your new president

Carl says he’s excited to have assumed the mantle of CFA president at an
important time for the industry and for the CFA.

IT gives me great pleasure to be assuming the mantle of president of the CFA at this important time for our industry and for our association. I’m very grateful to the council and membership for putting their trust in me, and I shall do my utmost over the next two years to repay that trust.

The first thing I would like to do however is to pay tribute to my predecessor, Hamish MacGregor, for his great work on our behalf during his time as president. As he said himself, if you were going to pick a period of time during which you would be president of an important national trade association, you probably would not have picked the last two years.

That notwithstanding, Hamish has done a great job, driving the CFA agenda forward with great commitment and conviction. Of course we have to be doubly grateful to him, as this was his second ‘tour of duty’ since he was also president on a previous occasion. In the CFA we don’t let our valued senior officers off the hook very easily and I very much look forward to continuing to work with Hamish in his new role as immediate past president.

I also intend to continue driving forward some of the work that Hamish has been carrying out during his tenure, particularly the work around skills development and quality, issues which I feel equally passionate about. For that reason, I’m particularly pleased to be assuming the role of president at the same time as the CFA is launching its Future Fitters campaign, which is pivotal to the future of our industry.

But a little bit about myself: I’m currently managing director of Westcotes Flooring Company, a commercial flooring contractor with bases in London and Leicester, and involved in all types of contract flooring jobs around the UK. I have worked in the flooring sector for 24 years and have been on the CFA council since 2019. I’ve been vice president since 2021.

I’m totally committed to skills development as the most important way in which we can attract people to work in our sector. Maximising career opportunities is one of the ways in which we can make floorlaying attractive to those who are considering career options at any stage of their lives.
I’ve had the good fortune to work in the contract flooring sector for my entire career to date over many years and I am very conscious of the opportunities that it can provide for those working at all levels within it.

Future Fitters is so important because it confronts head on what is really an existential challenge for us all. Floorlaying is a skilled occupation, as was eventually recognised by government, following significant lobbying by the CFA, when they allowed UK contractors to continue recruiting skilled staff from Europe.

If we’re not able to attract sufficient numbers of people to join our industry, either already possessing the relevant skills or prepared to learn those skills, through appropriate training, then there is really not a very strong future in prospect. So this is critical work, and I’m prepared to put my shoulder to the wheel on this, as I hope you are too.

While it’s especially important to maintain and drive up quality at the sharp end – within floorlaying itself – a committed workforce, good training and excellent career opportunities are required throughout contracting and at all levels of our businesses. Every company is a team, with many layers. Weaknesses at any level can lead to us failing to provide customer satisfaction, which of course is our goal.

So something I’m interested in pursuing is how we can reinforce the quality message, not just for the operatives fitting the flooring, but for everyone working within a flooring contractor, from senior management, through business administration, sales, marketing, and all other roles within an organisation. At the end of the day each one is as important as the next, and each one should be valued and receive the same level of attention to allow the team as a whole to move forward.
I wouldn’t of course claim to have the answers as to how this can be achieved in its entirety, but I do think it is something we need to address in our campaign to make the contract flooring sector more attractive and successful.

Another big issue is that of sustainability of course, and I’m very proud of the leading role the CFA has been playing on this issue in recent years. I’m aware there’s now a risk this will be pushed under the carpet (as it were) because of everything else that is going on nationally and internationally at the moment. If that were to happen, I think it would be a disaster and I’ll certainly be pushing for improvements in the sustainability of our products and practices to remain absolutely at the top of our list of priorities.

We know businesses and individuals are under a lot of pressure at the moment because of ever-escalating price increases, so I think it’s particularly important to ram home the message that all our businesses can very likely save money in the long term by improving our environmental practices.

You may well be reading this a few days before our Autumn Ball – and so I very much look forward to seeing many of you there.

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