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Checking in: Random thoughts from the ivory tower

by Steven Feldman

This is an exciting month. Maybe not for you, but certainly for me. Even though I’ve been doing whatever it is I do for the better part of 16 years, I can still visit new places, cover events for the first time, and most importantly, learn new things.

I’ll illustrate. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Preferred Brands summit at Barnsley Gardens in Adairsville, Ga. First, if you’ve never been to this place, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Yes, it took me longer to get from the Atlanta airport to this in-the-middle-of-nowhere place in rush hour traffic than it did for me to fly from New York to Atlanta, but once I arrived I never wanted to leave. The resort, owned by former Queen and Shaw head honcho Julian Saul, is picturesque and tranquil. (Saul even made an appearance.)

Anyway, you may better know Preferred Brands by the name Floor to Ceiling. But when World of Floors came on board, Preferred Brands became the umbrella moniker. We’ll have coverage of the event in the next issue of FCNews, but note that this retail group is different than anything you have ever seen. The retailers may not do huge volumes, but the philosophy of selling project over product given how they are heavily invested in kitchen and bath is a real winner.

This week I’ll head to a few meetings in the Midwest. One place I have been is Chicago, where I will watch Congoleum kick off its latest and greatest with longtime distributor All-Tile. Very quietly, things are beginning to look up for what is still a major player in the resilient game. Congoleum, that is. The company is primed to emerge from a prolonged six-year bankruptcy within months. Its major Surfaces introduction, Ovations, has been well received. They tell me business has not been bad this year. Good news has been a long time coming.

Next week is the eighth annual CARE conference in Santa Fe, N.M., a place I’ve always wanted to visit—even though I think only four planes take off and land each day— and a group I’ve always wanted to better understand. I’m excited about covering this event, not only because recycling and land- fill diversion are the hot topics in carpet these days, but because the roster of manufacturer attendees reads like a who’s who in sustainability. It’s one of those events I know I will walk away a smarter human being than when I walked in.

And that’s the most exciting part of the month.