National Floor Trendsmagazine will sponsor two panels at Surfaces 2002 in Las Vegas. On Wed., Jan. 30,NFTSenior Editor and longtime industry stalwartHoward Olanskywill moderate “Thinking ‘Outside the Box’ to Outfox the Big Boxes.” In this session, Olansky will lead a panel that includesJeff Cowanof House of Carpets Carpet One in Modesto, Calif. andRon Leachof San Rafael, Calif.-based Rafael Floor Coverings Inc. in a discussion focused on ways to thrive in a marketplace populated by a growing number of big-box retailers. The panel will detail field-tested strategies that have proven effective in competing with and beating the mass merchandiser’s business model.

During “Installation as Competitive Advantage: Why the Installer Should be the Specialty Retailer’s Best Friend,” NFT Publisher Jeff Golden will lead a panel of retailers and contractors in a discussion of how maintaining a skilled crew of installers can win customer satisfaction and loyalty. Panelists scheduled to participate in the discussion include Alan Delahunty of Floor Coverings by Certified in Salt Lake City, Dave Stafford of Alexandria, Va.-based Commercial Carpets of America and Tom Jennings of Bud Jennings Carpet One in Lawrence, Kan. The session is scheduled for Thurs., Jan. 31.

On Wed., Jan. 30, NFT’s sister publication, Floor Covering Installer, will sponsor “The Inspectors’ Corner: What the Inspector is Looking for When a Claim is Filed.” A cross-section of inspection professionals representing the manufacturer, retailer and installer segments of the industry will discuss some the most common problems inspectors find when they are called in, the specific things an inspector from each segment looks for when a claim is filed, and the best approaches to avoiding these types of claims in the future. FCI Editor Jeffrey Stouffer will moderate.

In addition, NFT columnist Janet Carter will host three seminars. Her “Good Showroom Management & Selling” presentation will take place on Tues., Jan. 29. Carter returns on Jan. 30 with “Selling to Women” and “Basic Design Principles for Your Showroom.”