Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The Good Old Days
By Howard Brickman
In 1978 there was no industry-sponsored training or conventions; in fact, there was barely a wood flooring industry. I had just started working at NOFMA in Memphis. Two of us inspected all of the oak flooring mills in the U.S. and did the complaint inspections for those manufacturers. There was a total of 14 manufacturers operating and 12 were full-dues-paying NOFMA members. Hardwood flooring shipments had plummeted from 1.2 billion board feet in 1955 to 75 million in 1982. Here’s a chart from a Hardwood Floors history article (click on the chart for the article with the bigger version) showing the decline:
The NOFMA marketing committee decided to start a wood flooring installation school to replace the rapidly vanishing cadre of wood floor mechanics. So this bunch of manufacturers formed the NOFMA School Committee and picked the junior man in the organization (me) to develop lesson plans with 35-mm slides to illustrate the important steps. It took me months to get everything planned and written and rewritten. March 1979 was our first class. It was a good first effort but something was missing. The missing ingredients were real-world experience, leadership, and a love for the hands-on skills and hard work of the wood floor craft. The next class, in September 1979, became something special when two gentlemen from Dallas and Shreveport were recruited as the lead instructors. Within the next year, a core group of lead instructors formed around Harold Reid and Roland Holder. They were Bill “Mac” McLaughlin, Dick Hradecki, and Warner Tweed. We worked to improve the lessons and course materials, and it was like a vacation for me to participate in the weeklong classes over the next two years.
It is hard to describe the impact on those of us who attended these classes. There was no question that you were getting good, straightforward information that was fun to listen to from men who knew what they were talking about. The ultimate teaching tool is the good example. Roland and Harold exemplified what was possible to accomplish in the wood floor industry. Harold Reid’s legacy lives on in the people lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with and learn from him.
Harold Reid: Gone but not forgotten.