Our industry lost a giant in mid-December, and we lost a dear friend. Howard Olansky, a highly respected journalist and publisher who devoted his career to the flooring industry, passed away following a brief illness. He was 78.
A forceful presence in our industry for six decades, Howard’s influence went well beyond FCI and the other magazines he helped publish. Long active in industry associations, he was instrumental in the establishment of many national and regional associations including the Western Floor Covering Association (now the World Floor Covering Association), the Carpet Manufacturers Association of the West (now part of CRI), NAFCI (predecessor of the FCICA), the National Association of Floor Covering Distributors (now North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors) and the Floor Installation Association of North America.
Howard’s involvement in the industry dates back to a time when only a handful of companies were making tufted or woven carpet. As the industry grew, Howard quickly emerged as an energetic and articulate advocate of all types of flooring. Among his numerous achievements, Howard was instrumental in opening up the installation of wood floors to the floor covering industry. He also helped make it possible for carpet cleaners to incorporate the word “steam” in descriptions about their services, and he established the name “installer” instead of “mechanic” to designate the craft. Howard also helped put an end to the involvement of unscrupulous door-to-door salesmen in flooring. In addition he served on the CMAW committee that developed a consumer fact sheet on carpet cleaning and maintenance that was included with rolls of carpet from CMAW members.
His legacy in the flooring business can most readily be seen in several prominent industry publications, including National Floor Trends, Floor Covering Installer and ICS Cleaning Specialist magazines. He was an inductee into the World Floor Covering Association Hall of Fame and served on numerous industry committees and task forces.
His passion and affection for the industry was evident as he repeatedly urged those in the flooring industry to focus on fashion and innovation rather than price and volume. Howard was a frequent speaker and panelist at conventions, sales and marketing meetings, and educational meetings in every phase of the industry.
Howard’s entry into flooring came as a matter of happenstance. Following his graduation from the University of Iowa, he served in the U.S. Navy focusing on communications while stationed in San Diego during the Korean War. Soon after, he began his career as a journalist with the California Real Estate Journal and then joined Western Floors magazine in 1955 as managing editor for publication founder Steve Brody.
He was elevated to publisher of Western Floors in 1964. Later, with his new business partner Harold Arkoff, he expanded Western Floors and added Installation Specialist (now ICS Cleaning Specialist), Eastern Floors and Floor Covering Installer magazines. In 1997 the two partners sold the company to Business News Publishing (now BNP Media). Howard stayed on, serving as the publications’ senior editor.
Howard’s loss is shared by all of us whom he touched in his 51 years of active involvement in all aspects of flooring. We will greatly miss his profound wisdom, sharp wit, and loyal friendship.
To honor Howard, the family has requested donations be made to the charity of your choice. Howard is survived by his wife Ilene and daughters Ellen and Dale.