Mohawk's Selections 2004 dealer convention in Orlando, Fla., offered attendees the latest information on products and services available to ColorCenter dealers. Attendees learned of new hard- and soft-surface assortments, the availability of complete turnkey programs to retrofit their stores, and important details regarding promotional and sales events.

NFT spoke with a number of attendees on the showroom floor to ask them where they felt the industry is heading. Overall, many of them anticipate a steady rise in hard-surface sales compared to soft surfaces.

David LaFollette, who works in sales for J & R Carpets of Port Richy, Fla., said that he sees customers gravitating toward more ceramic and laminate hard surfaces. "They're just more popular than soft surfaces in the Florida area," LaFollette explained.

Mike Miller, owner of Hastings, Mich.-based Miller's Carpet and Furniture, said that his customers are looking mostly for linoleum and hardwood products. Those clients prefer hard surfaces for "their long wear and cleanability," he said.

Lynn Hoff, former employee of Walker Carpet & Tile in Harvey, Ill., who came to Selections with her husband and store manager Matthew, also said that wood floors and ceramic tiles are more popular than soft surfaces. "This is for two reasons," she said. "First, we're getting more and more builders at our store. And second, customers say allergies are the No. 1 reason they prefer hard surfaces over soft."

However, Hoff added that she and her husband were at Selections 2004 to expand the overall selection of the store, including the purchase of area rugs and carpet remnants.

Jim Tassinari, owner of Central Flooring of Kingston Inc., with three locations in Massachusetts, said that his customers generally seek out tile and hard-surface products. "Hard surfaces offer style, longevity and value," Tassinari opined. "Carpet has gone up so much in the past 10 years. It's no longer a $4-a-yard product."

But Ray Ziamanesh, president and owner of Decor Floor & Window in Sterling, Va., said that, in his area, the "hot item" is soft floor covering. "Soft yarns and carpet are doing really well," he said. "The hardwoods are often priced too high."