By Clint Iams, NAFCA Executive Director, Amity, PA
The North American Fence Contractor Association (NAFCA) held its annual Fence Training School in Sebring, FL for the ninth time February 6th through the 9th. Thirteen students from eight different states attended this year. The following NAFCA member companies sent students to attend this years school:
Prior to the school kick off, NAFCA held its spring board meeting. This was the first time of Board of Directors were able to meet in person in two years; what a welcomed change of pace to be able to meet in person!
Members present were Dustin Weimann (DW Fence), Mart Prost (Prost Inc), Clint Iams, Bill Iams, Judy Iams, Jim Iams, Mary Iams (Log Cabin Fence), Chris Ward-Horner (Hampden Fence), Deb Roche, Don Roche (D Roche Fencing), Shelby Kelland (LiftMaster), Shawn King (Mr Fence Tools), Glenn Butterfield (CertainTeed), Sammy Franklin (C&C Fence), Rick Cruz (Rick’s Property Maintenance). President Al Martins (Fence Armor) called in to lead the meeting. Board member Andy Solk (The Fence Shop) and new member Adrian Whyte (Whyte Castle Construction Corp) also joined the meeting via Zoom.
The school started on Sunday evening with the reception and welcome at the Inn on the Lakes. It is adjacent to the Sebring Municipal Golf Course where all of the classes take place. FTS Chairman Mart Prost’s wife, Sandra, provided welcome bags for the instructors and various snacks for everyone during the reception. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday the students and instructors worked at the golf course at the various stations. The warm weather usually is a welcomed change of pace for our northern students traveling to Florida for a few days of sunshine. This year was a bit cooler than past events; however, that did not deter students or instructors.
One of the benefits of the NAFCA fence training school is all projects are real world applications of the various fence projects. The students, alongside seasoned veteran installers, install fence that will actually be put to use. There are no half measures or temporary fences; all are permanent installs. This provides the best possible learning experience for our students.
Chain Link and Welding – This year the chain link class installed two 10’ sections of 6’ tall chain link with top rail, mid rail and bottom tension wire. Additionally, the teams installed drive anchors on the driven gate posts. Welding was taught in the golf course’s shop. While no new gates were needed around the facility, each student was able to gain hands on experience with stick welding.
Instructors Don Roche and Ray Statz look on as employees from Bellbrook Fence, Decatur Fence, Hip Square Fence, and Veteran’s Fence and Supply install this short section of chain link.
Ornamental Aluminum – The ornamental aluminum instructor lead an install project of new aluminum fence donated by Alumi-Guard along the Caddyshack parking lot.
Students from C&C Fence, Cruz Property Maintenance, and Qual Line Fence work alongside instructor Shawn King.
Wood Fence – The wood fence class constructed a cedar picket fence along the golf cart parking garages. The cedar pickets were donated by Qual Line Fence.
Ray Statz of Qual Line Fence oversees students from Bellbrook Fence and Veteran’s Fence and Supply install this cedar picket fence.
Farm and Ranch – The farm and ranch fence class installed 600’ of coated high tensile fence for the golf course along the edge of a small creek to keep golf carts from ending up in the water; the material was donated by John Wall, Inc and American Timber.
Jim Iams leads students from C&C Fence, Decatur Fence, and Fences by EMTEK in the installation of coated wire.
PVC – The PVC class installed 50’ of privacy fence around the maintenance garage at the center of the golf course; all material was provided by Bufftech. Additionally they discussed proper cleaning techniques, repaired a number of sections, as well as installed PVC on a slope.
Glenn Butterfield leads students from Bellbrook Fencing, C&C Fence, and Decatur Fence in the PVC class.
Access Controls – The access control/gate operator class upgraded the gate/operators with new/upgraded safety features (provided by LiftMaster) and did trouble shooting of all the existing units.
Employees from Bellbrook Fence and Mr Fence learn to trouble shoot gate openers in Access Controls.
Instructors also demonstrated building a guard rail along one of the golf cart bridges on the course with material donated by Log Cabin Fence and Qual Line Fence.
In addition to the above hands on experiences and in-the-field training, there are various safety discussions held at mealtime and in the evenings. On Monday night one of our access control instructors reviewed of gate operator safety regulations. Tuesday night four of our instructors lead a round table discussion/Q&A session. While these were optional classes, all students attended both events.
The school concluded on Wednesday with the graduation ceremony. A few city officials join our school for the graduation dinner and were very grateful for the service we provide the community of Sebring. This is the ninth year NAFCA has held its fence training school in Sebring at the municipal golf course. Each year there have been approximately $25,000 worth of material donated and installed by the classes. This results in approximately $225,000 worth of material donated to the City of Sebring over the nine years. NAFCA runs the school at cost in order to keep the registration fee as low as possible. The instructors all volunteer their time and services for the betterment of the fence industry. It is worth noting the instructors have a collective cumulative experience in the fence industry of 450 plus years and 220 plus years teaching experience.
We would like to thank the following companies and individuals for their donations of time and material that make the school possible. Emerald supporters are those businesses who continually go above and beyond in their support of FTS:
Supporters and Instructors:
John Wall, Inc
Royal Adhesives & Sealants
Shawn King of Mr Fence Tools
Sammy Franklin of C&C Fence
Bill and Judy Iams of Log Cabin Fence
Clint Iams of Log Cabin Fence
Glenn Butterfield of Bufftech/CertainTeed
Ray and Harriet Statz of Qual Line Fence
Dustin Weimann of DW Fences
Bill McCoy and Shelby Kelland of LiftMaster
Don and Debbie Roche of D Roche Fence
Finally, a big thank you goes out to Mart Prost, our FTS Director. His tireless work results in a world class Fence Training School.
Many more pictures and videos of this year’s school can be found at here and on the NAFCA Facebook page. While we do not have the exact date yet, we will be back in Sebring in 2023 for our tenth school. Be sure to sign up early as the school tends to be at max capacity. Please take a look at our website or Facebook page for more information.