I have to say that I have been terribly lazy in my blog writing as of late.  I woke up this morning and felt the need to type something….anything.

I don’t know about you, but we are constantly striving to stay ahead of the curve in our industry.  There are so many things that can happen seemingly overnight that might, just might, leave us on the sidelines.  I don’t think any of us want to be left holding the bag on anything, but to me not being on the cutting edge of innovation is scary.

I have seen so many companies that have made life changing innovations only to be left in the dust because they were not able to keep those innovations relevant.  Does anyone remember that just a few years ago there seemed to be a Blockbuster on every corner?  How bout the Sony Walkman?  Was it not long ago that anyone who got on the internet had to go through the AOL door?

It was 1993 and I had an idea.  What if I could produce full color drawings of basketball courts that I could attach to quotes for sanding floors to set myself apart from others?  I took this idea to my local computer store to find out what it would take to do this.

Now, computer stores were much different in 1993 that what they are today.  Most computer stores were one man operations run by a geek who was the owner.  After explaining my idea the salesman/geek/owner responded by getting very excited and telling me he had “just what I needed”.  He had a 386 computer with 1 meg of ram and a whopping 256k of total memory.  He had CorelDraw 1, a Logitech scanner and a full color HP printer.  All of this could be mine for $24,000.00.  I did not bite.

In 1996, when the 486 computer came out with 2 megs of ram and a math coprocessor I did bite for only $9,000.00.  I was so proud when I unboxed that gem of a computer system.  I was going to be a scanning machine!  Scan this scan that….let’s get these graphics out.  Then I put my first image on the scanner and hit the button…..was it working?  YES, it was but very, very slowly.  It took approximately fifteen minutes to scan and save one image.  Was I deterred? Absolutely not, I just planted myself in my seat and scanned away.

I designed floors that were crazy!  I checker boarded the border for the University of Tennessee, I made tiger stripes in the lanes for Adairsville High School and I put basketballs in the center circle and the top of the keys (now that was a trend).

I did not think far enough ahead to realize that if anyone actually decided to accept one of these drawings, I would actually have to paint it on the floor.

This came true for me at Tennessee Wesleyan College who accepted my drawing of a bulldog logo in the center of their court.  I had never painted anything like this, but I submitted it, so I had to perform.

I scheduled my painting after hours on a Friday so no one would be around to see my antics.  I borrowed an overhead projector and attempted to hang it from the rafters (I have never claimed to be the smartest person in the room).  I was nervous and under pressure but I did have a ladder.  As my luck goes, it just so happened that the AD worked late that night.  He saw the lights on in the gym and came in to see what was up.  Well, I was up.  I was up in the air trying to hang this projector and I wondered if I could hide and he would not see me but I was wrong.   I must have looked pretty stupid based on his reaction.  I proceeded to explain to him that I had never actually painted a logo like this and pleaded to him to give me the benefit of the doubt….well he was doubtful indeed.

It all turned out just fine, but there was a lot of learning going on I promise.

Back in the day, we would project logos on walls and move the projector to determine how large we were going to make a logo.  Now it is a seamless journey of back and forth emails and just a click of a button to produce logos that are virtually perfect stencils for painting.

I scratch my head when an employee calls asking advice because we did not pull the dot on an i and they are not sure what to do.  I want to go back and put them up on that ladder with me and tell them to figure it out.

The point of my rambling is that our industry is always changing.  Whether it is UV coatings, new floor systems (such as led lighted glass floors that can change game lines at the click of a button) or the use of colorful stains and dyes, we must keep up or get left behind.
What’s next?  I don’t know….. but innovation is always coming.  Don’t get left behind.

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