July 14, 2024 12:37 PM
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Flooring Installers Share the Tricks and Tools of Their Trade 

by Jeanne Brei 

When asked about their favorite tools, flooring installers tend to have similar answers. From cushion backs to power stretchers (also known as the crab” because it pulls seams together) to the Bradley (also known as the shark” or the plow”), knives, Kline cutters, loop pile, staple guns and knee pads, to Keen steel-toed sneakers, forklifts and cell phones—flooring installers have a lot of tools and tricks in their toolbox. 

Some of the best flooring installers

Exhibit City News headed out to talk to some of the best flooring installers in the business who were all hard at work at press time—in Austin, Texas, McNabbs Paul Jensen, Benny Horne and Wes Gallegos were setting up SXSW 2023. In Las Vegas, ConExpo/ConAg had several companies busy, including Brumarks ECN ACE Jesus Rodriguez and his team that included Louis Wantraba and Antonio Vazquez Cruz setting up the Gencor booth outside at the LVCC as well as a Brumark Chicago contingent that included Tim Mescall (currently based in Orlando), Joel Aderman and his son Joel R. and his brother Johnny Aderman, who had flown in for ConExpo and were setting up the Volvo booth at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. Las Vegan Kelly Lewins World Class Services, Inc. (which began as a woman-owned business owned by Lewins wife Peggy), installed flooring for 35 booths at this years ConExpo, and was also at the festival grounds setting up the Honda booth with his son, Kelly Lewin Jr., Michael Gum, Melvin Kyle, Ethan Webb and Michael Rogers. We also spoke with GEScarpet foremen Eric Jepson and Gina Harmon, along with GESsenior operations manager for carpet, Daniel Lloyd, as they were preparing to lay the carpet for the AWCI (Association for Wall & Ceiling Industry) show at the Paris Hotel & Casino. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, Art Coronas team had just finished tear down of the International Home & Housewares Show and were getting ready to install flooring for the upcoming Promat Expo at McCormick Place. 

The tools of the trade

The tools of the trade have come a long way from when the installers would need to sew up the seams by hand prior to the Bradley, which was invented by a Local 631 flooring installer in Las Vegas, and allows for the installation of two-sided tape to pull together two carpet sections into one seam. Other recent developments include adding six-inch Big Red tape to the usual array of one- and three-inch tapes so that the carpet doesnt shift when people walk it. As GESLloyd explains, The six-inch. low-tack Big Red tape is needed when its carpet being laid on top of carpet—so that it doesnt shift and it doesnt leave a residue on the ballroom carpet when its being pulled up.” 

Work boots re important 

GESJepson, whos been doing flooring for more than 20 years, recommends Keen steel-toed sneakers or work boots because, he explains, A 10×91-footer of carpet is around 330 pounds and you go through a lot of shoes when youre kicking it if youre not wearing Keen steel-toed or thick rubber-tipped shoes.” Jepson had been in training for a decorator foreman position when they were short-handed in carpet and asked him to help out, and he just decided to stay on doing flooring. Fellow GES carpet foreman Gina Harmon had also done an apprenticeship for everything I&D, including a lot of carpet, and decided to specialize doing carpet for the last 15 years because she says, I like doing the inlays and special designs.”

Most show organizers request carpet

Flooring isnt only carpet, however, it can also include vinyl or turf, but thats usually at the request of an exhibitor. According to Lloyd, Most show organizers request carpet, its the individual exhibitor who might ask for vinyl or turf for their booth.” Several installers said their least favorite flooring to install is a needle punch carpet that feels like felt. As for what would make their job easier, it was nearly unanimous that if exhibitors could get their orders in early for electrical and everything they need, it would mean never having to roll the carpet back up and having to lay it over again because the exhibitor had forgotten to order something. They also all agree that it is great to be back working and seeing the tradeshows back at pre-lockdown attendance numbers and growing.

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