Traffic in the main trade show hall was brisk for the entire duration of exhibit hours.

Wood floor dealers, contractors, distributors, and manufacturers from across the nation arrived in Palm Springs for the National Wood Flooring Association's yearly convention under cloudless blue skies and a blazing sun that pushed the thermometer close to the century mark -- unseasonably toasty springtime weather, even by the standards of Southern California's low desert.

This year's convention, which NWFA organizers dubbed the "Education Vacation," was conducted April 25-28 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. All told, 2,485 wood floor professionals journeyed to the event to participate in a wide range of seminars, peruse the product offerings showcased in 409 exhibit booths and partake in some of the various resort amenities available throughout the local area.

Day 1 of the NWFA Convention ended with a poolside welcome reception at the Wyndham Rosort Hotel.
Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann kicked off the proceedings with his motivational opening presentation, The Game of Effective Leadership. From there, the educational agenda of the convention kicked into high gear with seminars that covered management topics -- including employee recruiting and hiring, making effective use of the Internet, pricing strategies, claims handling, and improving customer relations -- as well as wood-specific issues such as troubleshooting finishes and using alternative wood species as a means of increasing profits.

In addition to the trade show, convention highlights included an overview of the NWFA's Advanced School -- which outlined specialized techniques such as working with flooring medallions, insets and mixed-media installations -- and the annual Floor of the Year Awards Banquet.

Demand for exhibit space was so keen that convention organizers set up additional space beneath a big top adjacent to the main convention center facility. Once an initial problem with the air conditioning system was resolved, increasing numbers of show goers began to venture into the tented Pavilion Exhibit Hall.
The results of this year's awards balloting were as follows: Artisan Hardwood Floors of Austin, Texas won in the Experts Division; Chicago-based Birger Juell Ltd. was winner in the Masters Division. The Member's Choice Award in the Expert Division also went to Artisan Hardwood Floors and the Member's Choice Award in the Masters Division was conferred upon San Francisco-based Renaissance Floor In-Lays.

Other winners, and their categories, were: Legendary Hardwood Floors, Terre Haute, Ind., unfinished craftsmanship and design; The Becht Corp., Tewksbury, Mass., best prefinished design; Extreme Flooring, North Brunswick, N.J., best design in a commercial application; Renaissance Floor In-Lays, best use of wood technology; Strobel Hardwood Floors, Jefferson City, Mo., best limited species design; and Mission Hardwood Floor Co., Scottsdale, Ariz., showroom and personal floors.

Next year's NWFA Convention is scheduled for April 17-20 in Orlando, Fla.