Coverings 2004 will feature an expanded lineup of conferences, seminars and workshops to appeal to the wide range of attendees -- including retailers, contractors, installers, designers and more.

Coverings, North America's preeminent showcase for ceramic tile and natural stone floor coverings, will feature a greatly expanded educational program for 2004, according to show organizer National Trade Productions (NTP).

This year's show will offer a variety of speakers, conferences and sessions tailored to appeal to the specialized interests of the individual exhibitors and attendees who participate in the event. Each community -- including architects/designers, installers, distributors, dealers and fabricators -- can attend free seminars that will help raise awareness of trends and uses for ceramic tile and natural stone and, ultimately, increase their business opportunities in the United States.

Now in its 17th year, Coverings will take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., March 23-26. More than 26,000 attendees from around the world will have the opportunity to meet with 1,000 exhibitors who will display their wares across 500,000 net square feet of floor space.

Sponsoring organizations of Coverings are ASCER (Spain's Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association), Assopiastrelle (Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractories Manufacturers), the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and the Tile Council of America (TCA).

Event co-sponsors include: the Marble Institute of America, American Institute of Architects (Orlando Chapter), the Associazione Italiana Marmomacchine, the American Society of Interior Designers (Florida North, Florida South and Florida West Coast), the Construction Specifications Institute (Greater Orlando Chapter), International Interior Design Association (Florida Chapter), the Terrazzo Tile and Marble Association of Canada, the Tile Contractors' Association of America (TCAA) and the Tile Heritage Foundation.

"When we took over the management of Coverings, we knew the show was widely respected for displaying some of the most exquisite tile and stone the world has to offer," says Tamara Christian, Coverings' show director and president of National Trade Productions. "We now want to take Coverings to the next level and provide a series of forums to promote the business of ceramic tile and natural stone.

"We have scheduled sessions on everything from mosaic design to green building to supply chain management to showroom marketing and the finer points of generating media exposure for products," Christian adds. "We think the new hall, new sessions and new management will provide a fresh perspective to this beautiful show "

Immediately after the annual PRISM and Spectrum awards winners are announced, keynote speaker Steve Forbes will kick off the show on Tuesday, March 23 at 8:30 a.m. President and CEO of Forbes Inc., and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, Forbes is an influential pro-growth advocate, and a writer and speaker on domestic- and foreign-policy issues.

Other highlights of the educational program include world-renowned architect William McDonough, who will headline the featured session, "Redesigning Real Estate: Building for Sustainable Prosperity," Tuesday, March 23, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. On Wednesday, March 24, from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the spotlight will shine on Michael Payne as he discusses "Designing for the Sexes." Host of the HGTV show of the same name and founder of Michael Payne Design, he has offered high-end design services to national and international clients since 1980. Payne also hosts a regular online chat on the HGTV Web site and his first book, "Let's Ask Michael," was released in the spring of 2003.

Color specialist Leatrice Eiseman returns to Coverings on Thursday, March 24, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. to discuss "Color Trends: How Will They Change?" Eiseman, the principal of the Eiseman Center for Color Training and Education and the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, is the author of four books on color and is widely quoted in fashion, interior design and graphics publications.

Jon Trivers, president of Marketing Wit and Wisdom, makes an encore appearance at Coverings on Thursday, March 25, from 9 to 9:50 a.m. to ask the question, "When Will Ceramic Tile Outsell Carpet?" Before becoming a leading retail consultant, Trivers was the president of Abbey Carpets.

On Friday, March 26, from 9 to 9:50 a.m., Michael Fortino, the founder and president of The Fortino Group, will discuss "Markets, Machines and Milestones of the New Millennium." Fortino has built a reputation as one of the most renowned strategists on dealing with change in the corporate environment.

Tamara Christian, Coverings' show director and president of National Trade Productions, is seen here displaying the show's newly revamped Web site.
Coverings has developed more than 40 new conferences and sessions to appeal to each of their primary attendee audiences. Several of the sessions which will offer credits for course completion. Some of the 2004 Coverings conferences include the following: "Sell More of What You Have to Customers You Already Have." Jim Dion of Dionco Inc. will conduct a workshop geared for distributors and retailers that seeks to identify ways to increase business by more than 20 percent from the customers who are already in the store.

"The Sustainable Value Proposition: Green Building - LEEDS Requirements" will be led by Paul Bertram of PRB Design. Bertram will walk through "sustainable" value propositions as they relate to sustainable, green and LEED industry initiatives.

In "Designing with Mosaics and Glass," David Ling of David Ling Architects will present case studies and walk through some of the technical and design elements necessary for a successful mosaic installation.

NTP has also developed a series of Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that include a moderator speaking to small, specialized groups.

"We think SIGs are one of the most effective ways to promote collaboration on ideas and issues to a select group of attendees," notes Christian.

The SIGs scheduled for Coverings 2004 include: Fabricator's Forum; Dealer's Forum; Distributor's Forum; Residential Contractor Forum; Commercial Contractor Forum; Design/Build Professional Forum; Remodeler Forum; Central and South America Forum; Mexico/Border States Forum; and the Brazilian Forum.

With its expanded lineup of educational seminars, as well as the latest in ceramic tile and stone products and technology, Coverings 2004 looks to be the best show to date in its 17-year history. For more information on attending or exhibiting at Coverings, and to obtain a complete listing of the conference sessions, visit on the Internet or contact NTP at (703) 683-8500.