By Jeff Fairbanks | President of Palo Duro Hardwoods
Do you ever think about how you got to where you are? Maybe it’s about who turned you on to the wood flooring business.
Or maybe how you have ended up making a solid life of it when, at 20 years old, you were sure it was a short-term way to get beer and burger money, not knowing or caring too much what the future would look like. I’ve been there.
Biggest Difference-Maker in My Career
I started in wood flooring as a contractor. Like many, I’ve now added up more than 25 good years in the industry. I've learned the sales and distribution side of things along the way. I look back and realize I’ve put together a pretty decent life for me and my family.
Here’s why: Beyond self-motivation and work ethic, like anyone needs to succeed, my relationships with others in the industry have been the biggest difference-maker.
Here’s why: No one in the industry has all the answers. Because I’ve built friendships with people around the world in this business, I have the resources to tap for answers. I call friends for ideas to help solve challenges, and return the favor as often as possible.
This network of lifelines didn’t come by accident. I got involved in the bigger picture. I got involved in the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).
Palo Duro Hardwoods has been a member of the NWFA nearly since its inception in 1985. I’ve been involved personally for 12 years, ultimately enjoying serving the past two as the association’s chairman. That volunteer opportunity is winding to a close. My term will end at the annual Wood Flooring Expo, next week in Charlotte, North Carolina. But I’ll continue to be active with the NWFA and fellow members.
Three Benefits of Being Active in the NWFA
1. Contractors add skills not only through NWFA training, but through swapping stories and know-how in person with fellow contractors at Expo, and during NWFA workshops and schools.
- Palo Duro gets the big-picture view from across the industry. Trends shifting? Product shortage? We hear about it as soon as possible because we’re plugged in around the world. That also benefits the contractors who are our customers.
2. Contractors stand out from their competition. You have opportunities to add industry-leading credibility. Be able to justify to homeowners why you are worth what you charge. Help to raise the expectations of those who hire wood flooring contractors. Together, we set the standard.
- Palo Duro gets to positively influence the quality of skills and products in the industry through NWFA education, hands-on training, and talking with government leaders about what’s important to our industry.
3. Contractors can use the NWFA technical support hotline. They develop a national or even global network of craftsman who add to that support. They become the resource that educates homeowners, gains their trust and, as reward, amplifies word-of-mouth to grow their businesses.
- Palo Duro is partners with NWFA, the single most important resource and voice in the industry. That helps us to be the foremost experts for our customers.
I know life is busy, especially for a contractor who is self-employed and handles installing, sanding and finishing, job estimating, marketing, bookkeeping and everything else the business needs. It often is enough to focus only on one day at a time.
But I encourage you to make use of the resources you have available to you, to look at the big picture and invest a little time in building the relationships that will take you and the industry further. It’s made all the difference for me – and for Palo Duro.