In my May-June editorial, I asked FCI readers to share their secrets for coping with today’s challenging economy. I have received several responses, and would like to share the following story:

I have been installing since 1972 and thru the years have seen the swings in our business. Since 2007, the downturn has been going in one direction. I have a motor home and have installed flooring in a few of my friend’s coaches. Since retail is flatlined and commercial accounts have their favorites, I decided that after 37 years, I need to reinvent myself. I started the forum with the link under my signature, and haven’t looked back. It seems that nobody - or hardly any installers have checked out this avenue of work. It is there, you just have to look for it. Can I charge by the square yard or foot? No- I charge by the day, as most of these coaches take 10 days to finish. I take the time required to make each of these coaches a work of art. The owners are happy and tell others. I have a friend who is my age and retired that helps me sometimes, but mostly it is just me doing the wood or carpet installation. The worst part of this is getting the word out to RV owners. I don’t have any capital for advertising- if I did I would have more than I could handle.

-- Ernie Ekberg

Weatherford, TX

Ernie’s story is a perfect example of how thinking outside the box can help installers to find new sources of income, even with the slowdown in the housing market, lack of available consumer credit, and the many other economic problems we are currently facing. If you have also found a way to thrive in this challenging economy, please share your success story with us!

Another important way that installers can stay ahead of the competition is by attending trade shows and conferences. This month’s issue of Floor Covering Installer marks an important event for the flooring installation industry, the annual FIANA show, which will be held Sept. 10-13 in Minneapolis, MN. In addition to showcasing the latest installation products and services, the show also features a variety of educational seminars on floor covering installation and sales. If you are interested in attending this show, visit their web site, To mark this event, this issue comes with a special FIANA show guide, which includes a show map, exhibitor listings, and a special products section highlighting the latest installation technology.