That is the way a top exec at USG described the current environment last week during a conference call with reporters. Of course we are all aware of the sour economy, but "unprecedented" is still a mighty powerful word. It suggests we have entered uncharted territory.

That may be the case, but let me point out something else that is also unprecedented in the floor covering industry: The commitment to innovation, the brainpower to pull it off and the speed at which in can be implemented. The movers and shakers in our industry move faster and more decisively than ever before. This was evident during the USG call. The company was touting new initiatives, including a much welcomed online tool designed to instantly assess a product's LEED credits. The company also said it managed to trim the weight of its popular Durock product by 25% without compromising performance.

Another interesting item concerns USFloors' new plant in Dalton, Ga. and its reliance on solar power. Recycling waste into fuel has become a big priority in flooring (Mannington plans to use old car tires in its Salem, N.J. plant), but what USFloors is doing is a huge step forward. Although the ribbon on the plant is not yet cut, let me be among the first to congratulate them. Even at a time when belts are being tightened, the company remains committed to lessening its carbon footprint while preparing for the future.

These are just a couple of very recent developments. There are many others. The point is, our "unprecedented" challenges are being confronted head-on with a level of focus and commitment never seen before. That is why I am absolutely certain we will ultimately emerge from this downturn stronger than ever.