All told, the 500,000 square feet of exhibit space at the Orange County Convention Center is expected to reflect a business that continues to grow and evolve.
"We are witnessing a major change in the flooring industry, as interest in, and sales of, hard surfaces such as tile and stone are challenging sales of other flooring materials," said Tamara Christian, president, National Trade Production and Coverings' show director. "Ceramic tile has doubled its share of the flooring market over the past decade and has had double-digit sales gains for four of the past five years. Hard surface flooring is a major player in the industry."
"The high volume of sales and upgrades tells us that the industry understands that Coverings, unlike any other show out there, is the most comprehensive tile and stone marketplace in the Americas and that is truly the preferred forum for all things hard surfaces," Christian added. "The 2004 show proved without a doubt that Coverings is the place where the flooring industry comes to do business."
"Coverings offers its exhibitors a tremendous opportunity to network not only with current customers but also existing and potential suppliers," added Jim Dougherty, vice president of marketing and business development for tile manufacturer Crossville, Inc. "We exhibit at Coverings each year because we get excellent exposure to an audience that is there to do business on the show floor."
A survey of those at last year's Coverings found that purchase orders finalized at the show accounted for about 30 percent of the average buyer's yearly total. In addition, an overwhelming majority- 92 percent -of those polled said they expected to make purchase decisions based on their participation in Coverings.
This year's meeting will begin on Tuesday, May 3 with Dave Barry, a humor columnist for the Miami Herald, who will give the keynote address from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. The morning program will also include the presentation of the annual Spectrum and PRISM awards.
Other speakers, conferences and seminars presented at the conference will address a range of issues shaping the flooring business. Many of the seminars will be directed at architects/designers, installers, dealers, distributors and fabricators aim to raise awareness of current trends and applications for ceramic tile in the U.S. Included are programs offering ASID, AIA, or Florida State Continuing Education Units.
Other highlights include:
• Leatrice Eiseman, principal of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training, and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, returns to Coverings on Tuesday, May 3 at 12:30 to present "Color Trends: How Will They Change?" She will identify the newest trends in color and consumer buying habits. Eiseman is the author of four books about color and is regularly quoted in a wide range of fashion, interior design and graphics publications.
• Barry Wood, of "Trading Spaces," one of the top-rated shows on The Learning Channel, will present at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 5. Best known for his work on the show, Wood is said to be part artist, part architect, and part rock star. His background experience and free spirit usually assure that the sessions he leads are part educational and part fun.
• On Friday, May 6 at 8:00 a.m., Bruce Van der Linde of Virginia Tile, who has his own talk radio show in Virginia where he's known as "The Tile Guy," will discuss "Media and Its Impact on the Floor Covering Industry."
• "What's Available in Distribution/Retail Software and Why Should I Use It?" - For distributors and dealers, this session will make attendees aware of the products available on the marketplace and educate them on the importance of software systems for tracking inventory and customer relationship management.
• "Embracing Change in the Building Industry" - Targeted to installers and specifiers but useful to all attendees, this presentation will examine some of the trends in home building such as open spaces, larger kitchens and bathrooms, changes in ceramic tile and stone and how the demand for wood building materials is creating conditions that installers, specifiers, salespeople and builder/remodelers need to consider before starting their next jobs.
• "Designing For Our Future Selves: The Baby Boomer Generation" - Now that the Baby Boomers have come of age and reached success, they are ready to purchase or renovate their last homes. This session looks at some of the design innovations created for this fast-growing population segment.
For more information on Coverings, visit www.coverings.com or call National Trade Productions at (703) 683-8500. Organizations sponsoring Coverings 2005 include Assopiastrelle (Associaition of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractories Manufacturers), ASCER (Spain's Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Associaition), TCA (Tile Council of North America), CTDA (Ceramic Tile Distributors Association), and NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association).
Coverings is also co-sponsored by: the Marble Institute of America, American Institute of Architects (Orlando chapter), The American Society of Interior Designers (Florida North, Florida South and Florida West Coast), International Interior Design Association (Florida Chapter), the National Association of Floor Covering Distributors, the Terazzo Tile and Marble Association of Canada, the Tile Contractors' Association of America and the Tile Heritage Foundation.