Prosperous Projections -- Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington Mills, explains to attendees of the 2002 WFCA Educational Conference why he believes the flooring industry is on the cusp of a prolonged period of prosperity.

SALT LAKE CITY -- For this year's Annual Educational Conference, held Sept. 26-27 at the Sheraton City Centre Hotel, the World Floor Covering Association combined an erudite panel of speakers with a varied selection of seminar topics in a bid to expose its members to tools and techniques developed to help flooring retailers take their businesses to the next level of success.

The 2002 edition of the conference, conducted under the theme "Excellence is Not Enough...Go for Outstanding," included 25 professional development sessions, a keynote address from Mannington Mills Chairman Keith Campbell on keeping pace with a changing market, and an opportunity for attendees to qualify for the WFCA's Certified Flooring Executive (CFE) designation.

The certification program, which was launched by the WFCA last year, added 36 members to its ranks following a comprehensive examination on the conference's last day. Interest in certification gained momentum among attendees during the course of the conference. According to WFCA Director of Education Harry Perdew, 23 association members had signed up in advance for the testing program but, as the conference neared its conclusion, an additional 13 walk-ins opted to take the exam. Everyone who took the test passed, Perdew noted.

Campbell's decidedly upbeat speech was a key highlight of the conference. Based on statistical and consumer focus-group research conducted by Mannington, Campbell predicted sustainable sales increases over an extended period and told his audience of retailers that the flooring industry today faces "a window of 10 to 15 years of very good times."

In large measure, he credited favorable demographics -- including the increasing square footages of newly constructed homes, historically low interest rates, and the rising disposable incomes of consumers who are now entering their prime wage-earning years -- as important drivers of the anticipated period of prosperity.

The next WFCA Educational Conference is slated for Sept. 4-5, 2003, in St. Louis.