The Olansky Files
Fifty years doing anything is an achievement. But fifty years of making a difference is remarkable. Through happenstance my own relationship with Howard has spanned just over 20% of his career, and while that might not be that long in duration, the breadth of its quality has been both enriching and enduring. Howard has been a sounding board, a resource center, a guiding light, a patient mentor and has taken on countless other roles for me over the years. The thing I am most proud of is he is my dear friend. So here's to you, my friend! May the second half century ahead be as productive and rich as your first!
- D. Christopher Davis,
World Floor Covering Association
I first met Howard Olansky in 1968. My father, the late Oscar Cowan, and his then business partner, Peter Johansen, introduced me at a Western Floor Covering Association committee meeting. They had been involved in the association's founding several years before and told me that Howard was WFCA's "guardian angel" and unofficial public relations "Guru." How right they were!! Over the past 37 years Howard has been a confidant, a mentor, a sagacious observer, a constructive critic, and a loyal friend, not just to me, but also to the entire floor covering industry.
Howard's unwavering support of all of the industry's trade associations has been a key factor in their growth and success. As a privileged recipient of Howard's e-mail observations about the industry, he continues to keep us informed.
While reflecting on the "essence" of Howard, I tried to come up with a worthy title: Howard has been the industry's YODA......wise, worldly, revered, special!
- Jeff Cowan,
House of Carpets Carpet One, Modesto, CA
Howard has been one of the true pioneers in journalism for the floor covering industry! Because of his many years researching and reporting floor covering news, he is able to offer a perspective of not only a reporter; but someone you can trust to provide you insight how the topic he is covering will affect the industry. Howard has always been a true friend to the distribution segment of the floor covering industry, and has often reminded the industry over the years of the value that independent distribution provides, and the vital link distributors play in the success of the industry.
Howard personifies the true meaning of a "Professional" whose character and conduct has been built on integrity, fairness, and honesty. Howard, we all thank you for your vision over the years in shaping our industry through your insightful reporting and love of our industry.
- C. Michael Smith,
Orders Distributing Co. 50 years! What a magnificent accomplishment. Howard, we go back a long time, not your amazing 50 years, but still a long time. I will treasure our friendship always and will be thankful for that as long as I live. Thanks...for just being you!
For our Industry, you are unequalled! This is clearly measured in how much you care, for being the constant and unrelenting optimist and for love you state and really mean. I only wish that Ralph Bloss was here to tell you in that special way that only he could do. Howard Olansky, it is a privilege to have you as a friend. Health and happiness - God bless you!
- Bill Doan,
Shaw Product Care I sent my first 1,500 word article to Installation & Cleaning Specialist somewhere back in the early 90's. Howard edited my article and what I perceived as eloquent prose was soon returned to me as a very short story or worse yet, a poem.
With a twinkle in his eye and his usual laugh, Howard and I began our mentorship. This man shared with me his knowledge, insight and wisdom of the floor covering industry. It extended from fiber to floor from present to future. I do not know of another person who stands taller as an advisor, teacher, coach and loyal friend to the flooring industry.
- Carl F. Williams,
Academy of Textiles & Flooring Regardless of the "State of the Union," the "State of the Economy," or the "State of the Industry," we can always count on an optimistic and positive view from the "State of Olansky." Howard has always found something good in everything and everyone and has always been uplifting.
- Kathy Holdridge,
Tarkett Commercial I first met Howard Olansky while attending journalism school at the University of Iowa nearly 60 years ago. Everyone called him the "Duke of Dubuque" because we just simply knew that he was destined for extraordinary accomplishments. How lucky it was for the floor covering industry that this is where destiny led him.
And, how lucky it has been for me to have been his friend for 60 years and his business partner for over 33 years! When Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics to "Ac-cent-u-ate the Positive" he must have had Howard in mind because Howard has dedicated his career to making things BETTER for the industry and the hundreds of thousands of people in it. He has been present at the birth of more industry organizations than any other person, always wanting to build higher standards of excellence through education, high business ethics, better products, better training.
Best of all, Howard is a most pleasant, fiercely honest, kind and decent human being, and a dedicated, loving family man with his more than fifty-year happy marriage to Ilene. How blessed we all are!
- Harold B. Arkoff, Specialist Publications, Inc. (retired) I got to know Howard in 1979 as a young executive with Congoleum. Over the years when seeing him I could count on his remarkable memory, cutting edge remarks and of course, his directness. Howard has the field covered with his wit about everything. When I see Howard, I am reminded that life is short so live it with passion and fun. Congratulations on your 50 years...best wishes for the future.
- Dennis C. Cook,
Gilford Flooring Over the years, Howard has been a positive influence in the flooring industry. His can-do attitude has proven very helpful in providing accurate information and possible solutions.
- Diane Martel,
Tarkett Commercial A serendipitous telephone call in 199 was how I met one of the most influential individuals in the industry and my life. When everyone else was comfortable in the carpet cleaning status quo, Howard took the time to look down a path least traveled and had the foresight to comprehend the need for hard floor maintenance and certification long before anyone else.
He not only looked down that path, but he boldly planted a rather large footprint on it, by taking a chance on a passionate unproven writer. Without the wisdom of this man, my opportunities may have been severely limited. Thank you for the many years of support and inspiration.
- Stan Hulin,
Future Floor Technology, Inc.
Thanks for the years of service, knowledge and humor you have given our industry. Your work with the ICS magazine helped raise me and our organization to "adulthood" in the cleaning industry. Not only have we grown through your ability to teach, but we have enjoyed the ride thanks to your humor and kindness. We wish you the best. - Gordon Hanks and associates,
Bridgepoint Systems Congratulations on 50 years in the Floor Covering Industry. We have a lot in common I started in 1958 and have had 7 great years in a wonderful industry. You certainly deserve the recognition and respect of all of us in the industry. Hope you continue for another fifty years.
- Donald P. Miller,
Roppe Howard's passion for his craft provided him the drive to remain committed to the people, the companies, and the perpetual change within the floor covering industry. His endless desire to report with great accuracy as well as from his heart contributed to his uniqueness of character, and has greatly influenced many of us over the past several years. From the business to the social, the ink to the paper, the veracity of the article, I commend you my colleague, my friend, as fifty years shows great dedication and ardor from a great man.
- Joe Jared,
Tarkett Commercial During the 17 years that I was the executive administrator of the IICRC, Howard was my constant friend, mentor and advisor. We spoke frequently and I always admired that I was able to consult with Howard off the record. His trust was never broken and his wisdom and understanding made life much more pleasant for me. I was continually amazed that he had such an understanding of the industry and all the players. I very much miss our frequent conversations.
I often think of the time when Howard was recovering from open heart surgery and had quit smoking. At the time, Howard would often stand close to me when I was smoking so he could get a little of the cigarette smell. Fortunately, I have quit smoking and thank Howard for his support! I wish Howard, his lovely wife and family all the very best in the years to come. Thank you my friend!!
- Kenway Mead,
IICRC (retired) v Many thanks, Mr. Olansky for your 50+ years as a trusted and dear friend and contemporary to our dad, Robert W. Van Buren. We are certain he would be eager to recognize your dedication and passion for the industry over the years. Best wishes for continued success and happiness for the next 50 years!
- The family of Robert W. Van Buren I was fortunate to get to know Howard in the 70's while in Seattle as district manager for Armstrong World Industries. Howard earned the respect of manufacturers, distributors, flooring contractors, retailers and independent representatives/agents.
There is no person more knowledgeable and devoted in the floor covering industry and more respected than Howard Olansky -A TRUE FRIEND.
- David W. Hewitt
-Dave Hewitt & Associates,
Seattle WA As Howard completes 50 years of service to the floor covering industry, one of his most noteworthy achievements was his efforts for the California carpet manufacturing community.
Howard, ever the catalyst for progress, recognizing the necessity of organization for meaningful growth, joined with a small band of intrepid local manufacturing leaders such as Joe Weisman, Marv Weiss, Irv Rosenbluth, Leo & Bob Cook, Mike Derderian, Barry Berman, Jim Horowitz and Phil Wexler and the important mill suppliers to form their own manufacturing trade association: The Carpet Manufacturers Association of the West (CMAW) in 1973.
Howard Olansky, a true friend of many in the industry, has played an important role in the history and development of this industry. The Western carpet manufacturing community is proud and appreciative and thankful to mark and acknowledge his unique contributions!
- Murray G. Hall,
CMAW/CRI-West (retired) Having started in this industry 2 years ago, I have been witness during that time to the many contributions made by Howard, whether it be his industry leadership or support of so many of us in our efforts to contribute as well. I will always remember and appreciate his encouragement and counsel. Thank you Howard!
Successful Directions LLC I have known Howard Olansky since I entered the industry in the early 1970's. Howard made many contributions to the cleaning and restoration industry. His ICS magazine was and is: a source of technical information, a place where new products can be discovered and a valuable forum for the discussion of important industry issues.
Honest, Outgoing, Warm, Attentive (he always makes everyone fell important), Respectful, Dependable.
Optimistic, Laughable (was able to poke fun at himself), Accessible, Natural (talking with people), Sincere, Kind, Yenta (Howard always has good industry stories). In Yiddish one of the highest compliments that can be paid to a man is by referring to him as a "Mensh". Mensh in Yiddish is synonymous for being an honorable stand-up guy.
- Cliff Zlotnik,
Unsmoke Systems 50 years a friend and how fortunate I've been to have had a friendship with Howard for all those years. I am privileged. Howard's unwavering commitment to high principles, honesty and how he reflects the true meaning of integrity has been motivating to the industry.
For five decades he has dedicated himself, body and soul, helping the cause of improving our business in so many ways. He traveled the country, meeting with associations and accepting speech invitations, anywhere, and he always had a strong influencing message. What a treat and inspiration he was, moderating panels at markets or writing his great columns.
Howard warned us in good times and tough times not to become complacent and to always be positive. He challenged us to do better, to raise our sights and our horizons. Howard thanks for challenging us and for your efforts to make this a better industry. You have been a beacon and an example for all.
- Saul (Solly) Gershon, Fame Floor Covering,
Glendale, CA "Whoever Promised You a Rose Garden" by Howard Olansky was the title that caught my eye. It was addressed to installers, but it had general importance for all in the cleaning/restoration industry as well. The world's not perfect; quit whining, put on your big-boy pants, get to work - that was the gist of the editorial.
I copied Howard's editorial and used it for years as the most-sound advice I've ever run across. Typical Howard! Encourager, admonisher, no-nonsense adviser - all accomplished with incisive intellect and unmatched wit.
Thanks for 50 years Howard; I'd wish you fifty more, but I'm too tired to respond to your relentless industry leadership. Rest on your laurels: you deserve it!
- Jeff Bishop,
Clean Care Seminars Howard is undoubtedly one of the most insightful, knowledgeable leaders in our industry and perhaps one of its most important figures. He is a creative and a solid guy who's been a good friend to our industry and the one who vetted every significant tidbit of valuable industry news worth noting.
In my years serving on industry boards he was the one person to go to when you needed insight or inspiration. He didn't see the glass as "half full or half empty" he always saw the glass as getting bigger, better or stronger. His creative sense of humor, coupled with his insatiable thirst for knowledge about our industry allowed him to understand the ever changing complex industry we enjoy. Howard is a great motivator wrapped up inside a wonderful man.
- Dan Bernazzani,
Liberty Consulting One of the many things I have admired about Howard is that he always had time to talk to you. It didn't matter who you were; big or small; installer, dealer, distributor, or manufacturer. To him everybody was equally important to the success of the floor covering industry.
He really enjoys the company of people who are guided by honesty and integrity. He has no use for phonies. He possesses an uncanny ability of being able to discern what is important and what is not and reported it to his readers in a manner that was easy to understand.
Howard's passion is and always has been the successful growth of the floor covering industry. We are all better off because of his presence and influence over the last 50 years. I'm proud to say Howard has been a good friend and mentor. Quite a man!
- Larry Carroll,
Valley Western Distributors (retired) Congratulations on your 50 years of service to this great floor covering industry. On behalf of all of us here at BonaKemi, we want to extend our sincere thanks for your contributions to all the people and companies you have touched and guided. In your career, you have been a true confidant at the highest level. This kind of integrity has been of utmost value to many of us who have had the privilege of knowing you personally and benefited from your insights and passion for the industry. Thank you for everything you have done to help us all be successful.
- Ron Peden,
BonaKemi USA Inc.
I remember my father telling me about an AIDS (now ASCR) International convention where he was exhibiting a relatively new-fangled piece of carpet cleaning equipment that had the audacity to try to clean carpet with hot water and extraction. He was one of only two people in the room who had this type of equipment. Most everyone else was exhibiting shampoo cleaning methods for carpeting. It was Howard Olansky who went out of his way to welcome this new company, new method, and even more importantly, this new person, Ralph Bloss, to the carpet cleaning industry.
Howard's wit, wisdom, and a keen understanding that an industry must progress have always provided leadership to the professional cleaning and restoration industry. He has served as a friend, mentor, coach, motivator, and butt kicker to me and literally thousands of others. Thanks Howard. We love you, too!
- R. Doyle Bloss,
Bridgepoint Systems and the family of Ralph Bloss Although I do not know Howard well, I am certainly aware of his stance with regard to doing business. We all have an opportunity to make choices regarding how we conduct ourselves in all walks of our life. I believe in Howard's life lessons.
Where there is a need there is a vision, where there is a vision there is passion and where there is passion there is endless opportunity.
- Doug Bradford,
The Carpet Cleaner Howard has been the voice of the carpet, installation and cleaning industries as long as I can remember. He has always been the voice of reason, concern, and thoughtfulness. He has raised the conscience level of the industry and represented all of us with integrity. Howard, thanks for your many years of service and for the future years to come.
- Larry Cooper,
Textile Consultants Howard, he who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure. Knowing you and your family has been a treasure for all of us.
- Pat & Marvin Weiss,
ElDorado Carpet Mill (retired) Fifty years ago a young navy veteran from Iowa started a new publishing venture, Installation Specialist magazine with his partner Harold Arkoff. Their audience was to be carpet installers but his editorial prowess and wisdom have reached and altered the entire carpet industry in the half century he has followed his dream.
Bane-Clene is one of many organizations in the industry honoring Mr. Olansky. He spoke at numerous Bane-Clene conventions in the ‘70s and ‘80s and was presented the prestigious "Jimmie" Award in 1981 for his efforts in resolving the great steam controversy.
From a personal perspective, I wish him all the best and thank him for his vast contributions to all of us who make our living cleaning carpets. I have been proud to call him a friend for thirty of those fifty years.
- Bill Bane,
Bane-Clene I first met Howard when I was on the board of WFCA in the late 1970's. It was obvious by the respect that the founding members of the WFCA board showed for him, that he had already paid his dues to the industry.
He was there when WFCA was founded in the late 1950's and to my knowledge never missed a board meeting or convention of the then Western Floor Covering Association (now World Floor Covering Association).
Whenever he was asked to lead a panel discussion, promote the convention, talk to manufacturers and suppliers about sponsoring the convention, serve on convention committees - he was there for the industry.
His input was valued, his integrity unsurpassed, his energy and passion for the industry was unbridled - in short he was probably this industry's biggest cheerleader. Thank you Howard for all you have done for this industry and for the support and encouragement you have always given to me.
- Ron Leach,
Rafael Floor Covering, San Rafael, CA The old saying "People Make the Difference" applies to Howard Olansky. Howard has been a friend and a spokesman for the flooring industry and has made major contributions. Not only has Howard enthusiastically promoted industry events, but also has been a unifying force for everyone: a true champion who has supported the industry. It has been a pleasure to know Howard and I extend my congratulations to him for his 50 years in the flooring industry.
- Frank G. Dolan,
Azrock (retired) I believe Howard O. had one of the first flooring industry trade publication email newsletter before many flooring people even knew what email was. He is always friendly, positive, informative and someone you could rely on for fast email replies. Thank you Howard for all you have done for the flooring industry!
- John Simonson, Webstream Dynamics, LLC I first met Howard when he acted as moderator of a FCICA panel discussion. I was struck by his command of the nuances of what it takes to be a success as a flooring contractor. He is so much more than a journalist writing about flooring. This is evident in his articles, such as, "Want More Business? Stop Crying and Start Trying!" or "Are Employees a Cost? Who's Responsible for Training?" or "Beware of Demons That Can Bury Your Business at a Time When You Could Prosper."
When I've read his articles, I've come away with good ideas and he has convinced me to look at our business from a different perspective. What Howard says is not just more discordant noise but the critical connection to parts of our industry that lack harmony. All who take the time to read his column will benefit from his insight.
- Dave Stafford,
Commercial Carpets of America, Alexandria, VA From San Francisco to Seattle to San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York to Chicago to Chicago to Los Angeles, I could always count on Howard Olansky for friendship, counsel and leadership.
Our great industry has been so fortunate to have Howard Olansky. He'll always be helping.
- James Saunders,
Charles & Kathryn Clickner The lessons that Howard taught us (from selling value added features to improve profits...to our personal responsibility to give back to our industry) are lessons that make this world a much better place!
- Cal Hughes,
Hughes Western Sales My first meeting with Howard was many, many years ago long before CFI. Jim was speaking in Las Vegas to a large group of commercial contractors at Surfaces. I arrived late and evidently, I appeared lost. Howard walked up to me and asked if he could help. I told him that I was looking for Jim Walker. He said, "Follow me and you'll hear the big mouth. We are trying to have a convention here and he is so loud, that we have to listen to him whether we like it or not." Jim was behind a curtain speaking in his "quiet" voice to all these installers explaining the double-glue installation for casino work. What a way to meet the man. He never did tell me who he was, but I found out. Howard spoke at the first CFI Convention and was somewhat amazed to see almost 300 people there. He came to Jim later and said, "I want to help, let's do something for installation." His idea to start FCI magazine was one of the greatest contributions to the installation segment of the industry that has ever occurred.
Few know what Howard did for Patrick Fell, beloved CFI member, who died this year of cancer. He called him every day to offer support. The difference Howard made in Pat's final days can never be measured. He has left his mark as a man of his word who took time to help others achieve their goals.
- Jane Walker,
CFI I first got to know Howard through the periodic newsletters he sends out online: He's the unofficial blogmeister of the floor covering industry. I use his newsletters as my primary source of reliable news about the industry; I know that when Howard sends out an e-mail, mountains start to realign. He is to floor covering what Alan Greenspan is to Wall Street...and he's better than Dr. Phil at keeping us feeling upbeat about the state of our industry and the prospects that await those who are willing to hustle.
Subsequently I got to know Howard as a person. Such wit! Such insight! Such historical context! Such a warm person who genuinely enjoys the people he meets! Howard is a class act and I'm proud to call him a friend.
- Don Finkell,
Anderson Hardwood Floors My memories of Howard harken back to the late 80's when he and his sales rep, Judy Schwartz, called on me at Armstrong. I was relatively new to my position at the time and had no idea who Howard was, never mind that he knew (knows) everyone in the floor covering business. Howard's mission was to sell me on why Armstrong had completely missed the boat by putting a hiatus on trade advertising and that clearly I needed to get a grip. Armed with lots of history, as well as insight into senior floor division executives, he managed to rattle my cage. We didn't manage to rustle up any trade advertising dollars that year, but we certainly developed a mutual respect. Best to you Howard!
- Sherry Qualls,
White Good & Company Advertising We have never ceased to be amazed by Howard's command of the nuances of what it takes to be successful as a flooring contractor. He is so much more than a journalist writing about flooring. His skills as a journalist are unmatched.
Many FCICA members met Howard for the first time when he acted as a moderator of a FCICA panel discussion or another industry seminar such as the "Moisture In Concrete" series I did with Howard in New York and St Louis several years ago. His good humor and grasp of the commercial flooring business make him a fantastic moderator. Howard has supported me in my work as a columnist for National Floor Trends and Floor Covering Installer magazines.
In business, as in life, it is the people you meet and the friends you make along the way that make a difference. I can't imagine a better friend to the industry, to the FCICA. or to me personally than Howard Olansky.
- Christopher Capobianco,
FlooringAnswers.com, chairman, FCICA My first exposure to Howard Olansky was at a trade association meeting about 20 years ago where he was the keynote speaker. He stepped UP to the microphone (no choice there) and I was not impressed. Then out of this less than imposing figure came "The Voice" and I was hooked. I then got past the wonderful timbre of the voice and began to listen to what he was saying and I was not only hooked, I was in the boat and on the bank.
Somewhere along the line, Howard went from having "The Voice" to being "The Voice" and in many ways, the conscience; of the flooring industry and we are all better for that. Howard, congratulations on the first 50 and may you have 50 more!
- Sim Crisler,
Specialty Flooring Solutions LLC I met Howard Olansky in 1965 when Howard called on me at an advertising agency in Chicago that had just taken over the Kinkead Industries account. The company was expanding its line of products from metal mouldings to tools for floor covering, tackless strip and floor covering adhesives. He made a pitch on the new magazine (Installation Specialist) he was starting and ended up selling me a six-time contract in his new publication.
It worked out to be a good choice for us and established a mutual relationship between Howard and me during our careers in the floor covering industry.
- Ken Knudtzon Howard,
Thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do for our industry. These past 11 years have been awesome and I owe so much of it to you. I am so proud to call you my friend and mentor.