By Steven Feldman
It was April 28, 2007, when the floor covering industry last came together—truly came together. It was a perfect, seasonable, spring evening. Tuxedoed men and elegantly gowned women strolled into Cipriani’s, one of New York City’s finest establishments, to attend the Floor Covering Industry Foundation’s (FCIF) Flooring Gala 2007.
It was a special evening as just about anyone who is—and was—anyone in this industry converged on the greatest city in the world to support the charity that supports its own. The ambiance was warm and enveloping as people embraced old friends and colleagues. They dusted off memories and replayed them—some embellished and some with a forgotten detail or two. But it really didn’t matter.
There were about 350 people in attendance, an extraordinary turnout by a concerned industry supporting the noblest of causes. Larry Nagle served as master of ceremonies. The industry Hall of Fame welcomed three new members: Phil Gutierrez of Abbey Carpet, Julian Saul of Queen and then Shaw and, posthumously, Alan Lorberbaum of Aladdin/Mohawk.
The event raised a few hundred thousand dollars and was so well received that the thought was to renew the gala every couple of years. But that was 2007, and the downward global economic trajectory ensued shortly after the event. The prevailing sentiment was that a grand celebration was inappropriate during the Great Recession, when so many were struggling or, to the extreme, closing their doors.
At the risk of sounding cliché, that was then and this is now. Eight years later, the economy has bounced back, optimism abounds and it’s again time for the industry to come together—which it will on March 21 with a black-tie event at the legendary Waldorf Astoria in New York City when the FCIF will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a Benefit Gala.
Representatives from all the major players in the floor covering industry will be under one roof to celebrate 34 successful years for the vital organization that has helped so many in the floor covering industry to cope with life-altering hardships. Howard Brodsky, chairman of FCIF and CEO of CCA Global Partners, said it best: “This night will not only be a great fundraiser to support the FCIF, it will be a great celebration of what we have already accomplished together.”
The event will again honor recent inductees to the World Floor Covering Association’s (WFCA) Hall of Fame: Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington, and the late Chris Davis, former CEO of the WFCA who was instrumental in bringing management of FCIF under the WFCA on a pro-bono basis so the maximum donor dollars go directly to the grant recipients who need it.
For those who may not be familiar with the FCIF, the goal is to help industry members whose lives have been ravaged by a catastrophic illness or life-altering circumstance. It has dispersed more than $3.5 million in assisting over 340 of its colleagues, making their lives more comfortable and free from stress and anxiety.
Richard Eldredge, former president of the Carpet & Rug Institute, was the first recipient having been stricken with a devastating illness in 1980. In a published letter, he wrote, “I received a grant from the FCIF. I was debilitated by a brain stem stroke that forever knocked my entire life off its axis. FCIF helps with my medical bills and its support makes it possible for me to live at home with my family… No words can tell you what that means to my quality of life and personal dignity.” There are around 200 stories like Eldredge’s.
As someone who sits on the FCIF board, please consider joining us for an evening that will include cocktails, special presentations, dinner and dancing. You can register as individuals or as couples, or you can purchase a table of 10. Register at fcifgala.com. Hope to see you there.