Some professionals – accountants, lawyers, doctors – are required to attend continuing education classes yearly, to keep their practices current and top-notch.
While the same mandate doesn’t exist for wallcovering installers, H.J. Holtz & Son makes sure its lead wallcovering installers have the opportunity to sharpen their skills at the annual Wallcovering Installers Association international conference.
This year’s conference, held in Denver, September 13-15, attracted wallcovering professionals from not only the United States but nations including Australia, Canada and Japan, to name a few. Holtz’s team included Jeff Ragland, Shane Legano and James Draine, who were able to attend education sessions, and meet with vendors and others working in the field, to share – and learn – information.
And for Ragland, to receive an award: second place in the Specialty Category for a project at the historic Taylor House on Hollywood Plantation in Arkansas. The late-19th century house, now owned by the University of Arkansas, is a log house in the dogtrot style, with a straight central hall running from front to back.
Ragland partnered with Historic Wallpaper Specialties, a restoration company in Tennessee, on a project for the lower level of the house. To return the home to its earlier appearance, fabric was stretched over the logs and then overlaid with wallpaper, as would have been done at the time. “You can pluck it,” Ragland says. “It sounds like a drum.”
Ragland says he enjoys the annual conference – this was his ninth year – because it’s an opportunity to take a deep dive into industry practices.
“There are definitely cool little techniques you learn,” Ragland says. “You see a lot of variety, especially from overseas. Some of the techniques they use for wallcoverings…we can adapt, to make our work more efficient.”
Ragland says one tabletop demonstration showed him a new way to cut paper to fit around windows and doors, which can be the most challenging aspect of a room. Seeing such techniques up close and in person is important, Ragland says, because each project requires strategic thinking.
“Every paper and pattern is different in what they can do, what you need, what you can and can’t do,” he observes, adding that it’s fun to be able to meet people in person who he’s seen featured on the association’s Facebook page.
“I love adapting and trying new stuff,” he says.
Next year’s conference will be in Cincinnati. Holtz employees will be there, too.