Making a difference by giving back

Home Columns Al's Column Making a difference by giving back

giving backBy Sam O’Krent Advertise. Sell. Install. Repeat. You get good at it. You teach it to your staff, and they get good at it. Day after day, year after year. You’ve created a good living for yourself, your family and your employees. Now what? Or, more importantly, why?

For more than 100 years, this industry has been very good to my family, and at some point in time you have to ask yourself, what else is there? That “aha” moment happened generations ago to my family, and I was taught that any success we ever had was due to our community—and it was important to give back to that community.

We can all give back in some form or fashion regardless of where we are in the floor covering food chain. Giving back is easy and can take numerous forms: write a check; join a non-profit board; volunteer your time. They’re all important and they’re all needed.

Many years ago, I was asked what mark I wanted to leave on this earth and the answer was simple: If I’m able to make a positive impact on other people’s lives, then I know I will have succeeded. There are so many service organizations in each of our communities that need members: Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Optimist. So many health organizations: American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Leukemia Lymphoma Society. So many youth organizations: Scouts, Girls Inc., Little League. The only criteria should be to find an organization whose values and mission mirror your own. Then, go all in. Don’t just join, get involved and get active. Make a difference in someone’s life.

What isn’t as obvious is what’s right in front of your face. When asked about his strategy for an upcoming game, Darrell Royal, the legendary University of Texas football coach, would frequently say, “You dance with the one who brung ya.” In other words, stick to what has brought you success in the past. So, if you’re reading this column, the floor covering industry is what has given you the opportunity to give back. For simple “give back” starters to the one who “brung ya,” look to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). If you’re not already a member, you should be. It does not cost anything to join, and you will be part of more than 10,000 flooring retailers across the country. The benefits are too broad to list, so visit and join today.

Additionally, did you know that if you—or anyone who has been in our industry for at least five years—suffers a catastrophic medical hardship, you can apply for a financial grant from the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF)? That’s right. There are only two other industries (Major League Baseball and the Screen Actors Guild) that have foundations to take care of their own. And this type of giving back is the easiest. Take two minutes now to visit to find out more information and to make a donation and start making a difference in someone else’s life.

I’ve watched the faces of so many customers as they marvel at their new floors. I’ve also learned that there is much to marvel at in giving back and how that can play an important role in identifying your future. Yes, there is more than a floor to consider in planning and defining your mission. Perhaps we should also include making the world a better place.

Sam O’Krent is the president and owner of O’Krent Floors, now in its fifth generation and over 100 years serving San Antonio and south Texas. He currently serves on the WFCA executive committee and FCIF board, as well as numerous non-profits in San Antonio.

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May 24/31, 2021

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