The 36th annual National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Expo, running April 12-14, brought a myriad of education and demo sessions, including business insights, tech talks and a four-part tech demo. Participation was high and the energy was even higher.

With the tagline “Navigate Your Future,” the Expo opening session focused on the challenges the industry has been facing, including supply chain issues, inflation, labor challenges and economic trends. Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D., The Bowtie Economist, entertained attendees with his quippy delivery of an economic update and advice on navigating the future of flooring. Eisenberg shared a few key takeaways for 2022: it will be a good year despite the challenges, the Fed will keep raising rates and spending on services will increase.

Michael Martin, president, NWFA, announced the Wood Floor of the Year Awards while Brett Miller, vice president technical standards, training and certification, NWFA, provided commentary on each project. Neuroh Hardwood in Nashville, Tennessee won the Best in Color/ Finished and Textured Wood category; J.L. Vivash Custom Wood Floors Ltd. in Paris, Ontario won Best in Circular Curve; Colpron Custom Floors in Emmett, Idaho won Best in Parquetry; Custom Floors Unlimited in Houston, Texas won Best in Marquetry or Inlays; State of the Art Wood Floor Gallery in New York, New York won Best in Historic Restoration; Czar Floors in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania won Best Use of Technology; Peachey Hardwood Flooring in Reedsville, Pennsylvania won in the Manufacturer Spotlight category; Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company in Dallas, Texas won the Best Staircase category; and Integrity Floors in Tampa, Florida won the Members’ Choice award.

As of the Expo, the NWFA reports that through its partnership with the Gary Sinise RISE Foundation Program 63 homes have been completed for military veterans and their families. The total NWFA member companies that donated to this program to make this possible total 143. During this announcement, Martin took the opportunity to recognize those in the industry who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces who were among those in attendance.

On everything from business advice and insights for those looking to grow their businesses to sales tips to lock down bids to tech talks on OSB, moisture testing and concrete prep, there was something for everyone in the education sessions. Running simultaneously was the four-part Tech Zone Demo taught by NWFA regional instructors, including Jon Namba, editorial director, FCI; Ben Totta, co-owner, Totta Hardwoods; Jason Elquest, owner, Blackhawk Floors, Inc.; Ron Zimmerman, UBC trainer, Carpenters International Training Fund; Todd McDonald, president/owner, Maple Ridge Handscraped; Jared Fitzgerald, contractor, Southern Oaks Flooring; John Alford, president, Alford's Custom Hardwood Floors, Lenny Hall, president/owner, Endurance Floor Co., Inc.; and Steven Seabaugh, contractor/owner, Seabaugh's Hardwood Floors.

The trade show doors swung open Wednesday morning to a flood of attendees who swarmed the booths and demonstrations. Exhibitors reported non-stop traffic throughout the day and most were still going strong at the close of the trade show floor. On Thursday, the tradeshow experienced a different kind of attendee. Local high school students toured the floor alongside industry pros like Marquis Wright, owner, Mr. Wright Flooring, Renee Tester, VP marketing, ecommerce and digital, QEP, and Dee Lenston, technical and training manager, Bona. Students participated in the Expo Student Day deemed “Learn the Ropes” where they were exposed to flooring as a potential career option.