Okay, now I’m convinced the industry is turning around. At the time I’m writing this, I’ve only recently gotten back from NeoCon 2013 in Chicago, and all the sights and sounds of commercial and contract flooring manufacturers showing off their latest designer-friendly, durable products in eye-catching booths are still fresh in my mind. Last month in this column I mentioned that we seem to have been seeing a trend of industry shows with bumps in attendance and higher levels of optimism. Well, there’s no maybe about it anymore. After returning from NeoCon, I’m sure this trend is real, and the industry is back on track.

We’ll have a full write-up on the NeoCon show in next month’s issue, but suffice to say, this show was brimming with energy. More than one exhibitor told me this was the best turnout he’d seen at NeoCon in nearly five years. Five years. If you do the math, that means this is the best NeoCon that many of these exhibitors feel they have been part of since before the recession, when everyone abruptly had to dial back on their plans and become a lot more conservative in their approach to business.

Well, we’re out of survival mode now, and it’s great to see unbridled creativity out there again. This show had a lot less grays and beiges, and a lot more scintillating colors, brilliant displays and new approaches to commercial floorcovering design. Long gone are the days when you enter a showroom and immediately get right to the person you’re there to see. More than once during the show, I had to fight through throngs of people just to get to the marketing guru or executive I was supposed to meet, and they were usually surrounded by people also wanting a moment of their time.

As someone who has been reporting on this industry for 11 years now, I have to admit it feels good to see this turnaround. A lot of people lost their jobs and livelihoods during this crushing recession, and while there is still a long way to go on that front, it’s heartening to see that business is coming back. This industry has been through the wringer, so pardon me if I put down my journalist hat for a moment and celebrate along with you. If there was any sign we needed that momentum is building and the industry is bouncing back, NeoCon was it.