A who’s who of industry veterans from all segments of the flooring business gathered in New York City to help raise more than $200,000 for the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. The April 28 black-tie gala held to benefit the nonprofit organization, which aids industry professionals in times of hardship, also saw prominent industry figures inducted into the World Floor Covering Association Hall of Fame.
Recently retired Shaw Industries president Julian Saul and Abbey Carpet ceo Phil Gutierrez were on hand to receive the honor. In addition, Alan J. Lorberbaum, a carpet industry pioneer who helped build Mohawk Industries before his death last year at age 82, was inducted posthumously. For many, the induction ceremony - and in particular the tribute to Lorberbaum - was an emotional highlight of the evening.
The $1,000-a plate event drew nearly 350 attendees to the upscale Manhattan eatery, Cipriani 42nd Street. Those on hand widely agreed that the gala was a highly memorable evening. “It was just a wonderful evening for the industry and especially for the FCIF,” said D. Christopher Davis, ceo of the WFCA, the organization that manages the FCIF as a service to the industry. He added that FCIF’s grants to people in need last year totaled about $600,000.
Davis noted that the evening stretched on an hour longer than scheduled. “The gala was scheduled to go from 7 to around 10 or 10:30,” he said. “But people were still there at 11:30. Nobody wanted to leave. There was a lot of reminiscing. And it was the first time in 14 years in this business that I saw the top brass from every segment of the industry come together like this.”
CCA Global co-ceo Howard Brodsky noted that the level of support and the sense of camaraderie served to reinforce his devotion to the industry. “The environment was outstanding and set the optimistic and appreciative tone for the evening,” Brodsky noted. “It was a tremendous, positive reflection on the industry and showed everyone’s willingness to give back to those less fortunate.”
He added that the evening was “very nostalgic” for him as he ran into several colleagues he hadn’t seen in years. Additionally, he said he was deeply moved by an honor bestowed on his friend and CCA colleague Alan Greenberg, who has been recently battling illness. “To be present when Alan Greenberg received his award was a touching moment for me,” Brodsky said.
The WFCA’s Davis noted that Greenberg’s speech was one of the most memorable parts of the evening. “He stood and talked about the one thing he’ll never have to worry about – a lack of support from those around him. He said he couldn’t imagine ever being in the position of losing his house, losing his family. But that’s the situation that many of the people who receive assistance from the FCIF find themselves in.”
Along with Greenberg, several other WFCA luminaries spoke to attendees about their experiences in the business and the ongoing mission of the FCIF. They included CCA’s Brodsky; Larry Nagle of consulting firm N.L. Nagle; M.B. “Bud” Seretean, founder of Coronet Industries (now a division of Beaulieu); Peter Spirer, former president of Horizon Carpet (now a Mohawk brand); and Floor Covering News publisher Albert Wahnon.
The chairman of FCIF, Mannington Mill’s top executive Keith Campbell, said his involvement in the gala was “truly an honor.”
“We’re proud to support our fellow industry members through the great and generous work of the FCIF,” he said.
Many on hand agreed that another highlight of the evening was a series of rousing spiritual songs enthusiastically performed by the Harlem Gospel Choir. Event organizers said the performance was one of many details of the gala that had been in the works for nearly a year.