Next year I celebrate 50 years in the floor covering industry, and I must say, I have enjoyed every project.

From the challenging to the prestigious but, by far, the most rewarding experiences, have come from my involvement with industry associations – and the passionate people who have volunteered their time, skills, knowledge and resources for the betterment of our industry.

I was introduced to flooring associations in the mid-1970s, as a ‘wet behind the ears’ business owner with big ideals, 29 staff and absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I had some tremendous teachers, tutors and mentors, whose support and guidance nurtured my passion for the industry and desire to share my experience with others.

From these humble beginnings, I was eventually elected to serve as president for one of South Australia’s longest standing flooring associations, a position I held for 12 years. During this period, industry support for associations faded, the legal definition and structure of associations changed, and there was a shift in members expectations of the services provided.

As one door closed, another opened – and my wife Sharon Brice and I, along with Bruce Hopgood, Premium Floors, and Les Cilento, Boral Timber, founded the Timber Flooring Association of South Australia (TFASA).

The TFASA instantly became a well-respected association, supported by installers, sanders, distributors and manufacturers. Using a very different model, it offered members up to date information and training on manufacturing, products, installation techniques, business support and legal requirements – this was achieved through organised trade shows, workshops and seminars.

The TFASA amalgamated with the Australia Timber Flooring Association (ATFA) when they were founded 10 years ago. Having served on the board of directors and the technical committee in the early days of this association, I am extremely proud of, and pleased to note, their ongoing success – as they continue to take the timber flooring industry to new levels of collaboration.

An organisation is only as strong as its supporters, so I urge all sectors of the timber flooring community to get involved with an association on a state or national level.

Association membership can be rewarding, but the real riches are realised when individuals invest in their passion and immerse themselves in the joint purposes and goals of their organisation.

Ray and Sharon Brice are regular contributors for TimberTrader News Magazine’s TimberFloor News.