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Contractor Certification

A year ago in this article I discussed the merits, advantages, and shortfalls of a CFA-sponsored contractor certification program. The bottom line is that certification is coming whether we like it or not. Several government and code organizations require that contractors, or individuals within the company, are certified to perform their specialty. More will do so in the future.

If certification is inevitable, which would you rather have? A government entity that knows little or nothing about your industry telling you what you should know and what requirements you must meet; or, an industry-generated program that is specific to your fi eld. Hopefully you will agree with the latter point of view. The CFA board did and established a committee to develop such a program. The CFA certification program will be a company versus individual certification. The program will require that some individuals within the company have knowledge in the fi eld, but that the company itself will be scrutinized in several areas.

Several key components to the CFA developed company certification program have been identified. First, is a basic level of knowledge about concrete, safety, and the process of constructing foundations. This will be accomplished with a multiple choice examination. The study materials will consist of ACI and CFA guides and publications as well as Chapter 4 of the International Residential Code. A preparatory seminar will be offered at selected venues such as the CFA regional and summer meetings.

Continuing education will be required after companies have qualified. Opportunities for continuing ed will be broader and will include selected seminars from the World of Concrete, local HBA’s and other venues. CFA events will also qualify but not everyone can make the events so other opportunities and events will be pre-qualified. Information regarding educational events not developed by the CFA must be submitted for approval. At this time, the committee is contemplating 12 hours of continuing education per year.

Company safety programs will also be evaluated. Safety materials, frequency of meetings, accident rates, and a host of other questions and submittals will be used to determine adequacy of the programs. If the company operates pumps, boom trucks, and other equipment where safety training is offered, the company must demonstrate that they are qualified and trained to operate the equipment.

Another section of the program will deal with the financial strength of the company. We are not looking at company books but we do want to make certain that companies are solvent before granting certification. Also of concern are histories of liens, lawsuits, and other legal actions; current status of payroll and other taxes. Having liens, etc. will not necessarily disqualify a company from certification but a history of problems or issues which are not being addressed, will be considered.

Insurance is another area that will be evaluated. Many builders and code bodies already have minimum requirements for liability and other insurances so this should not be a problem for established companies. Minimum amounts and types of coverage are still be debated by the committee.

Questions that touch on company ethics, community and industry involvement and other non-construction issues are also being considered.

For such a program to be successful, all elements of partisanship must be removed. An appeals board will be established whereby companies that are denied certification can appeal their case.

The program will be voluntary – if your jurisdiction does not require company or contractor certification, you do not need to submit to the process. The CFA, however, will be promoting the concept to builders and others who use the services our contractors provide. On the other hand, it might give you a vehicle whereby you can separate yourself from the competition.

The program is still in its developmental stage. If you have input, or would like to participate, give the CFA or Dan Bromley, the committee chair, a call. I can be reached at 319-895-6940 or esauter@cfawalls.org. Dan’s phone is 816-795-0073 and his email is DanB@ABI-Corp.com.

Ed Sauter, Executive Director, CFA
esauter@cfawalls.org

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us