From the opening bell, those of us who have closely observed Surfaces from its founding knew this was going to be a real winner, a true barn burner. While the figures aren’t in as I write this, I firmly believe they will prove that if this year’s show wasn’t a record breaker, it was close to it. Thousands and thousands turned out for Surfaces 2003. No doom and gloom in sight. Strong, positive feelings held center stage.

The energy level of exhibitors and attendees was sky high. Exhibit booth after exhibit booth greeted attendees with mind-boggling arrays of product. Styling and product improvements, along with technological breakthroughs, were the rule not the exception. The enthusiasm and optimism left no doubt that the floor covering industry is dynamic, and that the opportunities are truly unlimited.

Doom and gloom got buried at Surfaces. The consensus: Surfaces 2003 wrapped the industry in excitement, energy, enthusiasm, and exhilaration.

For many years, exhibitors on the lower level of the Sands Expo Center were not happy campers. Traditionally, the action was on the upper level. Not so any more — the lower and upper levels were both jam packed, crowded with interested and enthusiastic attendees.

There was plenty of action to go around. The giant manufacturers had huge exhibits that were constantly crowded. But crowded too were the booths of medium and small companies. Surfaces definitely offered something for everyone. At every turn, the eyes were filled with dramatic products and all of the ingredients necessary for retailers, distributors, contractors, installers, and cleaners to capture healthy and profitable sales.

It was obvious that exhibitors took extra pains this year to ensure that they not only brought products to market but that they outdid themselves in their presentations. They did a better job than usual in that regard. Their efforts were rewarded with better attention and greater interest from attendees.

Exhibitors were impressed by the quality of those who visited their exhibits. High marks went to Surfaces by every type of manufacturer — carpet, resilient, ceramic, stone, wood, rubber floors, rugs, cushion, installation supplies/accessories, and cleaning equipment and chemicals. The attendees remarked that Surfaces, more than ever, really showcased the huge variety of products and programs that are available for all segments of the industry.

Chris Davis, CEO of the WFCA, said of Surfaces 2003: “When we wrestled with the concept of selling Surfaces, we honestly felt we had taken it as far as we could go with the resources available. We felt it was time for someone else to take over in order to take it to the next level. Hanley-Wood has done just that. They’re standing on our shoulders and have proven to be the partner we had hoped they would be. I thought this year’s Surfaces was the best yet.”