We recently sat down with Stan Hulin, President of the League of Hard Flooring Professionals, to discuss innovations and challenges in the hard surface industry. Stan has over three decades of experience from within the industry including positions in maintenance, services, training, sales, marketing and management. With the League of Hard Flooring Professionals, Stan has a vision of building national education programs designed to provide modular presentations, classes, and courses that will ultimately become associate, bachelors and master degrees in the flooring industry.
Stan Hulin, President of the League of Hard Flooring Professionals, believes that the future looks bright for hard surface industries. “Statistically, carpet has dominated the flooring industry,” Stan says, “but today, new hard surface flooring materials sold represent 49% by value and 43% by volume.” And Stan’s correct. Hard surface is not going away. He states, “Some of the new flooring materials and methodologies are just getting started.”
Ask Stan about innovations in the hard surface industry and he readily admits that he spends much of his time on the maintenance side. “For many years,” he jokes, “the only thing that changed in hard surface maintenance were the labels.“ But it’s not true anymore. “In the last 10 years, we’ve seen many changes from pressurized hard surface tools interchangeable with carpet cleaners, to more compact automatic scrubbing machines that threaten to send the wet mop to extinction,” Stan says. And what about the next 10 years? Stan predicts we are entering an era of significant change that will impact every trade in the flooring industry. “You can’t stop technology,” Stan notes, “and there are a lot of great ideas out there.”
On the Future of Hard Surface:
“My prediction is that we are entering an era of significant change that will impact every trade within the flooring industry. You can’t stop technology and, it seems, there are a lot of great ideas out there.”
On Industry Challenges:
“There comes a time when we have to stop drinking the Kool-aid and take off the rose colored glasses and look at the industry and its challenges with a clear perspective.”
Although passionate about hard surface innovations, Stan knows that the industry is not without its challenges. “The biggest challenge we’re faced with today is marketing forces. Most of the hard surface flooring industry is driven by sales rhetoric,” he says. “The industry needs to be backed up by scientific facts and statistics.” Where to start to accomplish that goal? Stan says using non-biased, third party activity that generates real data, processes and procedures is a jumping off point. “We’re all for the pursuit of financial gain, however, there comes a time when we have to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and take off the rose colored glasses.” Stan recommends looking at the industry, and its challenges, with a clear perspective.
Another challenge in the industry – and opportunity for excellence – is education. “From top to bottom,” Stan says, “the flooring industry should be about knowledge.” He suggests taking a look at other trades – welding, carpentry, electrical, plumbing – for instruction on industry validation, certification and qualification procedures. “Those industries all have a structured learning regime that ultimately leads to a certificate or license to operate,” Stan says. “Why shouldn’t the hard surface industry have the same?” Stan says industry improvement begins with validating knowledge, certifying those that understand the knowledge, and qualifying individuals that consistently (and continually) deliver professional results.
In 2012, Stan saw a need to bring together the many multifaceted hard flooring trades for a discussion of common industry challenges. Formed with the intent of being a centralized source of nationally recognized experts, the League of Hard Flooring Professionals is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the hard surface industry. “Our purpose is to aid federal, state and municipal agencies, as well as legislative and judicial bodies.” Ultimately, Stan would like The League to inform and train the private sector on hard surface issues, product developments and human health/safety concerns through educational programs, materials and public speakers.
The League is currently comprised of many well known and respected industry players, including members from the manufacturing sector as well as representatives from the inspection, maintenance, chemical and equipment arenas. “It truly is a league of hard flooring professionals,” says Stan. “Membership enables you to participate and network with some of the most influential individuals in the hard flooring industry,” Stan continues, “and the symposium brings together those professionals from around the world to exchange ideas, innovations and information.”
On Learning & Education:
“From top to bottom, the flooring industry should be about knowledge.”
On Industry Representation for Hard Surface:
“The lack of representation has left our industry in a state of ‘wild, wild West’ in which anything goes.”
Through the League, Stan is promoting a culture of learning. “A natural byproduct of all that exposure is gaining knowledge you don’t have and sharing that which you do,” he says, adding, “The process improves the industry for everyone.” Through support of the League and its programs and offerings, hard surface professionals bring awareness to the trade and provide a voice that isn’t always well represented throughout the flooring industry. “Although many trades in the industry have great representation, the hard surface industry is not one of them,” Stan notes. “The lack of representation has left our industry in a state of ‘wild, wild West’, in which anything goes.” His objective with the League is to become the go to source for all hard surface challenges, provide unbiased science based information, and to connect speakers with opportunities to educate and inform.
The League is an invitation only organization. “You have to be invited in and your application is peer reviewed by each League member,” Stan explains. And he notes, it’s okay if you don’t know anyone in the League. Review the membership tab of the League website to get the ball rolling. Stan’s hope for the League? “We need youth in the organization to plan for the future,” he says. “Attracting young people just starting on a career path is the first step in letting them take the reins of their industry.”
Using a transparent team approach with mutual respect, the highest standards of ethics, moral values, and integrity, the League creates and develops training, instruction and educational requirements designed to satisfy certification, qualification and university programs to enhance career path development. Additionally the League help to develop written standards for the trades within the hard surface flooring industry.