IKORCC’s International Floor Laying Champion – John Sawyer

JOHN SAWYER – union floor layer by day… international floor laying champion and regional icon by night. By now, the entire United Brotherhood of Carpenters community knows how skilled he truly is when it comes to flooring, but when did he realize that he’s got what it takes to be the best union floor layer in North America?

John wasn’t “Pro Union” from the get-go.

He got into flooring when he was a young Clevelander because a friend of his had recommended the profession. John had heard of the union, but whenever he and his friend discussed it, it would only be negative. “Don’t do it” and “It’s a trap” began to be associated with the UBC for John.

What was the turning point? How did he get where he is now?

John and his friend had a bit of a falling out personally and professionally. After some time, he decided to give IKORCC a call and see what we had to offer. After meeting with a rep and discussing further, John decided it was time to join and get the rest of his life started. Once he got in, there was only one thing he was thinking – “Why did it take so long for me to organize?”

Up until he joined the union, John was trained by his friend who got him into the profession. That meant he would primarily be laying carpet in homes. After he came on board the IKORCC, he was absolutely FLOORED by the formal training and everything floor laying can actually be. From Hardwood, laminate, tile, rubber, and everything in between. The depth of the field was suddenly unlocked to John. He acknowledges and appreciates everything the union does from the perspective of pay, benefits, job security, etc., but says the opportunity to learn is by far the best perk he’s experienced.

The biggest thing this did for John? Open doors.

As mentioned above, all this new knowledge opened doors to new work opportunities, more exposure, and different experiences. One of those experiences just happened to be the UBC INSTALL Competition. According to John, he wasn’t even expecting to be considered as a competitor. He was shocked when he was asked but accepted the opportunity. At the regional level, competing only against floor layers from within the IKORCC, John was shocked at the size of the

event. People watched the event in person, as well as from across state lines in Indiana via a video feed. Needless to say – John would go onto win that event, and after the fact, he had friends and fellow competitors already telling him he would be going to Vegas to compete at the international level. He was flattered but was ultimately focused on the next competition against floor layers from the entire Midwest first. Sure enough, he won that event as well. As those first competitors predicted, he was headed to Las Vegas to compete against the best floor layers in North America, where he would have roughly 500 people watching him lay flooring…

According to a competition official, it wasn’t particularly close. As John hoisted the championship belt above his head, there was thunderous applause from those in attendance. The overwhelming support and joy that John felt was not only indicative of his top-tier performance in the competition, but also his time in the Union. “You get out of it what you put into it”, John urges all members to get involved in any way they can, “I was a steward, a heavy hitter, etc., and now I’m a few years from retiring.” John says the camaraderie he gets from the union and the people he works with is unmatched, but it’s directly correlated with your level of involvement.

Adjusting to life after fame and notoriety:

After the competition, John simply went back to work. He loves what he does, and he loves the people he works with. “Floor laying has its own sense of camaraderie as well, we’re all out there just trying to accomplish the same goal. We work well together.” He said in response to being asked what the best part of his job is. John had this parting thought he wanted to make sure he shared with readers:

“Take advantage of everything the union has to offer. Use the wealth of knowledge and information available to you, train whenever possible, and GO BROWNS.”