Establish Strong Roots in the Industry

This issue focuses on sustainability within the wood flooring industry. The word sustainability brings many images to mind, but, in particular, I think about sustainability as it relates to the future of our industry.

A new generation of wood flooring professionals is establishing its roots. This generation is more diverse, collaborative, tech-savvy, and passionate than ever. They are challenging the norm and are not afraid to find solutions that exist outside the box. Equipped with an unparalleled understanding of technology, these millennials are raising the bar on the creativity and quality of wood flooring projects around the world. Their mission is to take our craft forward and to build on the work of the pioneers of our industry.

At 52, I know I am obviously not a millennial, but I would not suggest I am a pioneer either. So, let’s say I am somewhere in the middle in the category that learned to focus on building relationships. One thing I believe strongly in, and would love to pass on to these emerging leaders, is to always be outgoing and positive, and try to build strong relationships based on trust and professionalism. Own your mistakes and focus on quality and profit as equal measures in the formula for success.

To recognize and celebrate this group of individuals, the December/January issue of Hardwood Floors will feature our second “40 Under 40.” The award program was founded in 2017 to create a mechanism so that the wood flooring industry could recognize and celebrate its next generation of talent.

Forty young wood flooring professionals from around the industry will be selected as representatives of this new generation and ambassadors for our industry. We will shine the spotlight on 40 men and women whose career accomplishments have moved them to the forefront.

Their professional track records, as well as their community involvement, have helped to establish them as some of today’s brightest stars – before their
40th birthday.

The contest is based on nominations, and is open to any individual within the wood flooring supply chain who is younger than 40 years old as of Dec. 1, 2018. The nomination process opens Aug. 1, and nominations will be accepted until Sept. 1. The form is available at Winners will be featured in the December/January print and digital issues of Hardwood Floors magazine as well as on

Last year’s group was impressive and included individuals from across the entire supply chain. The achievements of these outstanding young people – both from the standpoint of their impact on our industry and their surrounding community – were phenomenal. I personally welcome these individuals to our industry and look forward to seeing their increasing impact in the coming years. I am confident that our industry is in safe hands for the future. I am anxious to see what this year’s “40 Under 40” holds, and encourage you to nominate a colleague today.

I also encourage any of our young leaders reading this column to consider becoming a part of NWFA’s Emerging Leaders Network. This group was established to connect individuals under the age of 40 from different business segments of the wood flooring industry through friendship, career development, and recruitment. Together this group will communicate the interests of the younger generation as it relates to setting association agendas, consumer outreach, and succession planning.

Sept. 11-13, the Emerging Leaders will hold its first stand-alone meeting in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the Hardwood Federation’s annual Fly-In. The Hardwood Manufacturers Association (HMA) will be bringing its NextGen Leaders Council to the Fly-In as well, providing for a unique opportunity for the upcoming leaders from across the hardwood products industry to learn and work together to educate our congressional and Senate leaders.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a member or learning more about the Emerging Leaders Network and associated events, please visit

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