The Judges

Ian James

The 17th of September 2017 is a date that many people in the flooring trade have marked in their diary as the first day of The Flooring Show in Harrogate; for me, that date is special as it heralds the start of the Grand Final of the Carpet Fitter of the Year competition for which I am Head Judge and also Compere. I can honestly say that, apart from being at my childrens' births, being elected President of the National Institute of Carpet and Floorlayers (NICF) and my daughter’s graduation, it will be one of the proudest days of my life.

It has been 15 years since we last had a "Fitter of the Year" competition and I think our industry has missed it, I certainly have. It was 1996 when I first entered the competition and with some success too, I made the final on three occasions and in 2005 won the European Floorlaying Championship along with Nick Hood and Gary Middleton at Domotex in Hannover.
It's fantastic how the competition brings fitters together and how things have changed from when I used to compete, at the semi-finals it was amazing to see fitters who knew each other through social media but had never met face-to-face.
It was always my mission to bring back the competition and this has been 2 years in the planning; when the NICF Council gave the thumbs up it was on condition that we got enough sponsorship for the NICF to host it and there were no shortage of sponsors which indicates to me that the whole industry has missed it.
So all that is left for me to say is "IT'S BACK" and long may it continue.
Please come along and support the finalists. See you on the 18th September.

Richard Renouf

From my earliest days as Department Manager for an independent Cambridge Department Store I have been involved with flooring. I established the Qualitas National Conciliation Service (now The Furniture Ombudsman) in 1992, helping consumers, retailers and manufacturers to resolve difficult complaints and went on to manage the customer service function at Carpetright plc for more than 15 years. In 2002 I set up the Carpetright Fitters' Academy to assess and train more than 2,000 carpet, vinyl and laminate flooring installers, working in partnership with the Flooring Industry Training Association (FITA).
I am now working as an independent furniture and flooring consultant; I am a Consultant Member of the Contract Flooring Association (CFA) and write regularly for Interiors Monthly and SMG News.
The quality of the fitting is a crucial part of any flooring installation and has always been a top priority in the companies I have worked with. I am therefore delighted to have been asked to be a judge for Carpet Fitter of the Year competition and look forward to the finals in September.

Jeff Hardy

I started work in 1966 in engineering and qualified as a toolmaker and went out one Saturday morning to help my father-in-law carpet fitting and got hooked. What a difference from dirty smelly factories to somebody's lovely home.
About 1974 I left engineering to start sub contracting to shops and gradually built my own clientele and then rented premises to work from.
I joined the NICF in early 80's and qualified as a master fitter. In 1985 I entered Carpet Fitter of the Year and reached the finals in Brighton, coming 3rd; unfortunately in 1986 I broke my fingers playing hockey so was unable to enter the competition that year; I decided to enter the competition one more time and this time I struck lucky winning the 1987 competition, an achievement I am very proud of. I ran a successful commercial business until my retirement 3 years ago.
I am delighted to have been invited to be a judge for the re-launched Carpet Fitter of the Year competition and look forward to the finals in September in Harrogate.