Coverings 2003 returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., March 24-27. The expanded show will include more than 1,300 exhibitors from 45 countries.

Vision 2003, Coverings' educational series, offers more than 80 complimentary seminars and workshops -- presented by industry leaders and technical experts -- that cover a wide range of tile, stone and flooring subjects.
More than 30,000 attendees are expected to converge on the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., March 24-27 for Coverings 2003, the International Tile, Stone and Flooring Exposition. Last year, Coverings managed the difficult feat of raising attendance by almost 17 percent over the previous year, despite widespread economic worries and a relatively flat flooring market. Event organizers expect to set new attendance records during the upcoming edition of the show.

Coverings 2003 will feature more than 1,300 exhibitors from 45 countries showing off the latest trend-setting products and design applications for tile and stone, along with other innovations in the flooring industry.

The event is being co-sponsored by many leading professional flooring associations from all segments of the industry. Returning co-sponsors from last year’s event include the National Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD), chapters of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA). The Italian Marmomacchine Association (AIMM), whose membership includes the most important Italian manufacturers of equipment for natural stone processing, initiated their co-sponsorship this year in a move that underscores the importance of the show to European markets.

One of the biggest changes to Coverings was the addition last year of the International Flooring Exposition, an annual event produced by the NAFCD that attempts to bring together floor covering sellers and buyers. Though Coverings has long been noted for its emphasis on tile and stone, the International Flooring Exposition features carpet, rugs, hardwood, and other types of flooring materials, and significantly expands the range of products on display during the show.

More than 30,000 attendees are expected to flock to Coverings 2003 to see the latest design trends in ceramic, stone and other flooring materials.
Visions 2003, the educational portion of Coverings, will feature more than 80 complimentary seminars, workshops and courses led by highly regarded industry leaders and technical experts. The program will include a full schedule of courses in each of the following areas: merchandising and marketing, management, design, market trends, installation, stone fabrication, and technology.

Vision 2003 will also feature two master sessions devised for those interested in prospering in today’s ceramic tile industry. Ceramic Tile University is a seminar on how to get into the ceramic tile business in a profitable way, and how to display and sell the products. The main speakers for Ceramic Tile University will be Jonathan Trivers, president of Marketing Wit & Wisdom, and Donato Pompo, president of Ceramic and Stone Consultants.

The NTCA Contractor’s Workshop, the second Vision master session, is a fast-paced technical presentation specifically designed for contractors and their helpers. The program starts with surface preparation and layout, goes through membranes, backer boards, mortars and grouts, and finishes with cleaning and sealing.

In addition, Vision 2003 will serve as an official provider of continuing education units (CEUs) for AIA members and the design groups contained within the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC). Such associations include the ASID, IIDA, Interior Design Council (IDC), Interior Design Education Council (IDEC), National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and International Facilities Management Association (IFMA).

Introduced last year for Coverings 2002, The International Flooring Exhibition features a variety of carpet, rugs, hardwood, and other flooring materials.
Other educational opportunities for attendees include the show’s interactive forums, in which the attendees discuss a specific topic in a roundtable setting. Each table is assigned a facilitator and a separate topic for discussion or problem solving. At the end of the session, each table presents its findings or recommendations to the entire group for further discussions.

“The Fabricators Forum” will be led by Michael Reis, editor and associate publisher of NFT’s sister publication, Stone World magazine. Participants will discuss and share their experiences regarding some of the major issues related to stone fabrication. “The Retailers Forum” will provide participating retailers with the opportunity to share ideas and discuss issues specific to the retail environment.

“The Distributors Forum: Showroom Policies” will be moderated by Rick Church, executive director of the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA). Participants will look at the various issues affecting showroom policies, from setting policies for returns to the handling of samples. “The Contractors Forum,” led by Bart Bettiga, executive director of the National Tile Contractors Association (NCTA), will feature a lively discussion on the important issues currently affecting tile and stone installation.

Always among the highlights of Coverings, the spectacular international pavilions sponsored by trade groups from around the globe promise to be bigger and better than ever. Already slated for Coverings 2003 are a 90,000-square-foot pavilion sponsored by Assopiastrelle of Italy, a 68,000-square-foot exhibit by the Trade Commission of Spain, and a 25,900-square-foot display sponsored by the Tile Council of America (TCA).

With an expanded lineup of exhibitors, a projected increase in attendance and the continuation of the International Flooring Exposition, Coverings 2003 looks to be the largest and most comprehensive show in Coverings’ 16-year history.