By Steven Feldman The year 1986 seems like a lifetime ago. Ronald Reagan was chairman. There were between 300 and 400 carpet mills. Stainmaster was about to change the industry forever. Big boxes? You were worried about Sears and Montgomery Ward, not Home Depot and Lowe’s. And it wasn’t until May of that year that News about carpeting launched.
If you had told me in 1986 that I would be working for a publication on carpeting eight years later, I would have said you have rocks in your head. At the time, I was the editor-in-chief of a horse racing publication. As News about carpeting was days before the launch, I was on national radio handing out the $385 Ferdinand-Bold Arrangement exacta in the Kentucky Derby. I was a hero and considered one of the best horse racing handicappers in this country. (Didn’t get me that far.)
So much has changed in the last 35 years. WFCA Hall of Famer, Al Wahnon, launched this magazine to compete with Floor Covering Weekly, which he had left a few years earlier. He went to his friends at the mills and they promised to support his enterprise. It was almost like seed money.
Though never believed News about carpeting could become the industry’s leading publication; I know that as fact. Because, when a cocky but confident 40-year-old came in in 2006 and proclaimed it would be the #1 magazine in the industry in five years, you had a better chance of convincing him to lose weight by using Twinkies and Ring Dings. food. I know because I was that 40 year old. I believed in myself, but just as importantly, I believed in my partner, Dustin Aaronson. A year before I came here, I’d be launching my own magazine—just like Al had done nearly twenty years earlier. But I would only do it if Dustin went with me. Well, Al’s partner, Mike Blick, wanted us to come here. Dustin came first and I followed a few months later when my non-compete clause expired. So none of this would have happened without Mike’s faith in us. Mike has been a second father to both Dustin and me since day one. And besides, it only took three years before we had more ad pages than the competition.
So here we are, 35 years later, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve created. News about carpeting is THE channel from manufacturer to retailer with the sole purpose of helping every entity in the channel become more profitable. The exposure we provide helps manufacturers sell their products. The information we provide helps retailers to become more profitable and professional. There are no companies for me. There are people. There are friends. There are relationships. We do what we do because we think it’s important. “How can we help?” We always want to know.
You keep our 35 . in your handse anniversary issue. It’s the fifth I’ve come up with in my career, and each one had a different slant. Cover to cover, this might be the best. The team did a fantastic job. We look back through the lens of some of the industry’s most influential individuals. They offer perspective like never before. Read them. It’s almost a history lesson. No, it IS a history lesson.
In honor of our 35e, you will find a plethora of “35” lists. We highlight the events and innovations that have made this industry what it is, and we pay tribute to the people, manufacturers and retailers of yesteryear. We draw attention to the women and those under 40 who are making a difference today. It’s not the same good old boy industry, make no mistake. For dealers, we have 35 sales tips and forecasts that will help your business. And there are other features that make this a keepsake.
One of the best things about releasing an anniversary issue like this is the conversations and interactions along the way. You become wiser. Jeff Lorberbaum taught me more about business in an hour than I would in a semester at Harvard Business School. Bob Shaw? How many people in this world repeatedly spend hours with a legend? I consider him a friend. Julian Saul? I never really knew him until recently. I really enjoy the time we spend, and they don’t come better than him. Vance Bell? Another person I’ve spent more time with in the past year than I have in the past 25 years. I could go on like this.
One final note on this matter: it is clearly a huge undertaking for a staff of our size. Combined, their power and output is five times greater. You have no idea how good they are. Maybe. You sure do now. This doesn’t happen without them. Not just this problem, but 35 years.
OK, there’s one more thing: none of this happens without the manufacturers and distributors who have supported us for 35 years. More than 70 companies alone supported this issue to show their appreciation. I can’t thank them enough. It makes us want to work even harder for them in the future.
Enjoy this song. It really is a party – not just from News about carpeting, but the industry in which we all work, play and live.