Fifty years ago, a dedicated group of 85 Western floor covering retailers met in Reno, Nev. They had come there to search out ways of making the Western floor covering industry better for carpet and resilient retailers and contractors.

That group, which included my wonderful, beloved partner, Howard Olansky, faced many unknowns. But they were bound together in a central thought…through sharing ideas and connecting with one another they could become more professional, solve many of their common concerns/problems, and educate themselves and their employees on improving the business skills of Western retailers.

The impact their new organization has had on the West and the entire country since then is history. From the Western Floor Covering Association, the group has spread its horizons to the world and the World Floor Covering Association. It indeed impacts every corner of the globe where floor coverings are used, sold or manufactured.

Some of the most enjoyable and worthwhile days of my own 35 years in the floor covering industry were spent with my partner Howard, his wife, Ilene, and my wife, Helen, at WFCA Convention Seminars. Of course, the social get-togethers were fun and getting to know your fellow participants in this important industry always led to personal and professional gains.   

I think the impact of the WFCA on individual retailer and contractor members can be easily measured. Knowledge gained from the seminars showed retailers how they could stop promoting business by price and, instead, sell the beauty and design which can be created in the dealer’s (and your customers’) imaginations. The successful retailer sold not on the basis of price, but on durability, ease of maintenance, the beauty a new floor added to living enjoyment.

Those forward-looking retailers who attend WFCA seminars are the most successful in the industry. Topics the WFCA has covered range from credit and collections to use of color, sales techniques, improved installation methods, maintenance, labor concerns, legal and political matters…well, you name it…the WFCA every year broadened its scope and importance. If there were a new issue or a new concern, sooner or later the WFCA would face it, discuss it, and seek to find a solution.

Anytime the brightest minds of any industry get together and exchange ideas, a smart retailer or contractor knows they should be there to soak up the knowledge available to all who will come and listen and dicuss and absorb. That is the legacy that has been shaped by the WFCA in 50 wonderful years. Isn’t it inspiring  that the humble beginnings of 85 forward-looking retailers in Reno 50 years ago has grown over the years to the thousands upon thousands of retailers and contractors, distributors, manufacturers and designers who benefit from what the WFCA has accomplished?

I’ve seen it in my lifetime. Even more amazing, I know there is much more to come in the years ahead.

Editor’s Note:Harold Arkoff is the former business partner and co-owner of Specialist Publications, Inc. with the late Howard Olansky.