As easy as it is to think of Walls & Ceilings as a construction magazine, I've always thought of it as at least as much a business magazine. Of course, we try to offer plenty of technical information but the success of

a contractor depends almost solely on his talent as a businessman-not his technical competence, as Jim Olsztynski often reminds readers in his Smart Business column each month.

In fact, I will start focusing more on business topics even in this column in the months ahead. I believe that it is important to recognize that America is going to reach a crisis point regarding its economy sometime in the next 10 or 15 years. Factors to consider: the drain on the stock market as boomers retire; Americans increasing lapse in their own physical well being (and especially, that of children who are obese in record numbers) and the resulting strain to be placed on the healthcare system; and the disproportion of wealth distribution, and the greed of those who seek to maintain and consolidate more wealth. I believe these factors are going to test this republic to the limit. And these are just the business-as-usual factors to consider, not counting the expense of war and the fiscal irresponsibility of government.

More than ever, all of us need to take ownership of our financial futures. Pretend it's 1925 ... times are good for you. You're prospering. But what would you do if you knew a crash was only years away? Do you have appreciating assets? Is your business functioning in the most efficient way possible?

Next month, W&C is hosting its first annual Business Solutions Conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Nov. 8-9. This conference is designed to reinvigorate contractors, get you excited about business, give you a chance to network and of course, attend some informative seminars.

On Monday, Nov. 8, attendees will have a day packed with activities. In the morning, an insurance seminar will address the most common mistakes in choosing an agent, what to look for in small print, where the industry is heading and who's doing what and why. Later in the morning, a Q&A panel of experts will give attendees a chance pose questions, seek solutions or just get something "off their chest," to such industry pros as Bill Rogers, Rob Thomas and Michael Gardner.

After lunch, Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International, will give the keynote address, followed by a management strategies seminar, a legal/government seminar, and a sales and lead marketing seminar hosted by the aforementioned Mr. Olsztynski. That evening, a networking reception will allow some socializing and friendly exchanges of information amongst contractors.

Tuesday's offerings include sessions on safety, fall protection and OSHA compliance with Chip Macdonald, a mold session with Dick Hopkins, a labor session and last, a session on building codes.

The Business Solutions Conference is our way of bringing the most important industry issues to our contractor readers. There's still plenty of time to sign up so plan on seeing us in Myrtle Beach next month ... after all, it's tax deductible.