Having attained senior citizen status in our industry, I feel that I have a broad perspective on the evolution of the U.S. flooring business. I’ve spent most of my life in this business — which has been very good to me. I’ve watched, with great interest, as our industry grew from very few retailers to thousands of them. I’ve also observed the shift in most markets that saw the sale of floor coverings — particularly carpet and rugs — move from traditional furniture stores to specialty flooring retailers and home centers.

Given my perspective, I think it’s become quite apparent that if you don’t keep current with the times, you lose out in the end.

I recently read an article in my local newspaper that focused on one of this country’s largest retail department stores. The story detailed the difficulty the company was having in maintaining its sales and profits, and the actions it was taking to recapture some of its lost stature.

Analysts quoted in the article stated that this particular retailer had difficulty in keeping up with changing trends because it could not move merchandise fast enough. One of the analysts said, “The problem is not their stores, nor their locations. The problem is how they run their business — from inventory planning and control to keeping stores clean and shopper friendly.

“But their biggest challenge,” he continued, “is to change their old, ingrained mindset.”

With the speed at which today’s business climate is changing, many of you will soon be facing these same problems (if you’re not already). In most cases, we as an industry are now tapping into our second, if not third, generation of leadership. Most of our constituent companies cannot continue to be operated as they were in the past.

Cyberspace, e-commerce, megabytes, hyperlinks and all manner of newfangled computer-oriented innovations constitute the way of the future for our businesses. The thing we can pass on to the industry is a good foundation upon which the next generation can build a better, stronger, more profitable future.

I readily admit that I don’t understand all of these new, high-tech, faster-than-a-speeding-bullet innovations. Many of you industry veterans are in the same situation. So, go on and admit it. I’m content to let those who do understand these innovations have their go at it. If we don’t do this, our companies will soon find themselves in the same predicament as the department store retailer I mentioned previously.

Remember: it’s much easier to stay current than it is to catch up. Use today’s business tools or, eventually, you will lose your position in the marketplace.