Laticrete International Technical Service Director Calvin McGee climbs the company's "310 Wall," held in place by Latapoxy 310. The company awarded cash prizes to Surfaces attendees who climbed the wall the fastest.

Football players have the Super Bowl. Movie stars have the Academy Awards. Floor covering professionals have Surfaces.

From Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, Surfaces 2002 attendees and exhibitors took control of the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas to partake in the annual Hanley-Wood produced and World Floor Covering Association-sponsored flooring extravaganza. Some 35,312 participants explored the 500,000-square-foot space, marveling at the flooring wares and innovations of 917 exhibitors.

While the nation's current social, political and economic climate could be described as tense, Surfaces exhibitors made valiant efforts to showcase their newest products in eye-catching and lighthearted ways. Casual conversations among exhibitors and attendees exuded a cautious optimism about business prospects for the coming year.

Former model Kathy Ireland promotes Shaw Industries' Shades of America collection at the company's Surfaces booth.
Of course, show exhibits - as always - ran the gamut from spellbinding to whimsical. Award Hardwood's booth featured a singing duo performing a pseudo-disco tribute to hardwood floors. The lyrics of 1970s-era disco tunes were cleverly morphed into praises of the company's flooring products.

Both DuPont and Bruce Hardwood greeted visitors with animal themes and "spokesmammals." DuPont awarded stuffed bulldogs to those who visited the company's exhibit booth, while Bruce Hardwood's Andy Acorn, a bigger-than-life squirrel mascot, made the rounds amid the displays erected by the Armstrong Wood Products group.

But new products were not the only shining stars at Surfaces; the trade show also attracted celebrities who built reputations outside of the floor covering industry. Former model Kathy Ireland appeared at Shaw Industries' exhibit to promote the company's Shades of America carpet line.

At the Witex booth, which sported a boxing ring motif, show attendees lined up to get the autograph of former heavyweight boxing champion "Smokin' Joe" Frazier. Some were lucky enough to pose for photos with the champ.

Surfaces 2002 also featured a broad slate of educational workshops and seminars covering topics that ranged from how to better sell floor coverings to women, to measuring moisture content in concrete floors. Experts from all areas of the industry and the business world at-large helped attendees find new ways to make their companies more profitable. More than 20 of the seminars were approved for WFCA continuing education credits.

For the fifth straight year, the WFCA brought together winners from regional competitions to compete in its National Installation Contest, which again was co-sponsored by National Floor Trends and Floor Covering Installer magazines. After a grueling, two-day competition that saw the finalists participating in a written exam, repair work and a hands-on project, four installation professionals emerged as the best the industry has to offer in both the carpet and resilient categories.

The winners are: Kenneth J. Frango, 1st place, carpet; Mike Suffia, 1st place, resilient; Kevin Twohig, 2nd place, carpet; and David R. Rowden, 2nd place, resilient.

While exhibitors competed throughout the event with neighboring booths for face time with attendees, Surfaces 2002 organizers made sure of one thing: Everyone - from manufacturers to retailers - came out a winner.