by Steven Feldman
Another year in the books. The anticipated recovery never really materialized, but there’s always next year. How will you remember this year, dear diary? If you’ll indulge me, here are my lasting thoughts.
Twenty-five years. That’s 175 in magazine years. So FCNews’ 25th anniversary was a big deal. What better way to commemorate the milestone with a retrospective, 132-page issue in May? That edition played to rave reviews. Made all the work worthwhile. What will the next 25 years look like, dear diary? Only time will tell, but the chapters are already being written.
For some reason, Surfaces 2011 sticks out in my memory-losing mind more so than in years past. Maybe it was the refreshing move to Mandalay Bay. Maybe it was meeting Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who amputated his own arm after it became trapped under an 800-pound boulder, a story that inspired the Oscar-nominated “127 Hours.” Maybe it was seeing Garth Brooks with my good friend Keith Slobodien of Apollo Distributing. Maybe it was presenting Ralph Boe with our second annual Lifetime Achievement Award at general session. It’s not everyday you get to give an award to a friend.
Speaking of friends, as much as I enjoyed Surfaces 2011, the show will forever occupy a sad place in my heart. I’ll never forget visiting with Rick Marcus, who runs American Biltrite with his brother, Roger, of Congoleum fame, and being told that their mom, Natalie, had passed away at the age of 94. It had been many years since she made her mark in flooring design, but it can be argued that the grand dam blazed a trail of opportunity for the many women in this industry today. She was also a person who you would only have to meet once to be left with an impression you could never forget.
Speaking of passings, a few days after returning to New York from Las Vegas we walked into the office as we had every day for the past five years. Only this day was to be different. Very different, dear diary. We learned that that industry icon, Hall of Famer and FCNews founder Al Wahnon had left this earth. As word spread of his passing, the phone was ringing off the hook for days, reminding us once again of the impact he had on the industry and how is Damon Runyon-esque personality could never be duplicated.
I must break away from this morbidity, dear diary, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ray Anderson of Interface. I’m going to be a bit ego-centric here. Ray did a lot for this industry from a sustainability standpoint, but it was this direction that spawned our sister publication, Green Operations, which has been a home run with the A&D community. I will forever tie the two together.
While 2011 claimed many other people who made much more of a difference than I ever will—we haven’t even mentioned Frank Mayfield or Virgil Hendricks—I will also remember this as the year of the comeback. I’m thinking Joel Lefkowitz ex of Hoboken Floors, teaming with Salesmaster on his new HW Flooring venture. I’m thinking Michael Raskin, who broke away from Metroflor earlier in the year to launch his namesake company, Raskin Global. And last but not least, I’m thinking Bob Shaw, whose Engineered Floors is on the verge of making a whole lot of noise. More to come, dear diary, more to come.