Howard Olansky
I can't figure out why anyone beats the price drum instead of the fashion drum. After all, we're a fashion industry. It's fashion that attracts customers and clients. The residential and commercial markets buy fashion, not price. So how come so many sit fat, dumb and happy? They cling tenaciously to the belief that price is the route to success. They don't have a clue about the real world. So they advertise price, talk price, promote price -- all the while ignoring floor coverings' fashion attributes.

Among the many bright spots at Surfaces this year was the heavy emphasis on fashion with a wide array of mouthwatering colors, styles and patterns in all floor coverings. Fashion was the theme, too, of the educational sessions. Sadly, some continue to fly in the face of the facts and clutch price to their chests like a security blanket. Profits? Obviously overlooked.

Our industry, at all levels, must get off the treacherous path of price and step firmly on to the solid path of fashion -- the route to successful sales and profits. We must end the price mentality that turns floor coverings into a commodity.

Sadly, the problem runs throughout the entire industry. No segment has a monopoly on putting all its eggs in the price basket. Price worshipers are found among retailers, contractors, manufacturers, distributors, installers and those in floor care.

If the industry fails to put the emphasis on fashion and take it off of price, we are in deep trouble. What's sad is the price folks don't realize that the majority of residential and commercial customers want fashion and are willing to pay for it.

This was clearly put into perspective at Surfaces when Herb Wolk was inducted into the WFCA Hall of Fame. During his long and illustrious industry career, Herb never minced words; he hasn't changed since his retirement. In his acceptance speech, he warmed that we are a fashion industry and if we don't start pushing fashion instead of price, our future is not bright.

Why do we insist on treating floor coverings as a commodity instead of a desirable fashion-oriented product? Why do we relentlessly push price and forget about the endless array of beautiful floor coverings? Why do we relentlessly push price and ignore what technology has brought to floor coverings? Why do we push price and forget about telling the consumer/architect/specifier/designer about the wide variety of floor coverings available to them? Why do we push price and overlook the breakthroughs in installation and maintenance?

The time has come for the industry to enthusiastically climb on the fashion bandwagon and put price where it belongs -- down low on the list of why people buy our products.