Each new year brings new challenges to the floor covering industry. With that fact in mind, Surfaces 2004 organizer Hanley-Wood is assembling experts from across the spectrum to offer their experience on timely topics including consolidation, consumer awareness, the effect of Big-Box merchandisers and installer recruitment.

Surfaces 2004, which takes place Jan. 28-30 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, will convene its first-ever Town Hall from 7:30 to 9 a.m., Jan. 28, at the Venetian Hotel. During this event, a panel of experts representing a wide range of fields will address attendees' questions and concerns on challenges facing the industry. The panel will be composed of a retailer, manufacturer, distributor, installer and forecasters of residential construction activity and the floor covering industry as a whole. This year's inductee to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) Hall of Fame will be announced prior to the start of the Town Hall.

The Town Hall moderator will be K. Bruce Koepcke, president of New Horizons Marketing. Panelists will include: David E. Polley, vice president of marketing for The Dixie Group; Alan Braunstein, president of Worldwide Wholesale Floor Coverings; James Gould, Misco Shawnee chairman of the board; Tom Jennings CFE, president of Bud Jennings Carpet One and WFCA chairman of the board; Joe Grady, NFT columnist and general manager of Diversified Resources Inc.; Stuart Hirschhorn, research director for Catalina Research; and Kermit Baker, senior research fellow with Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Throughout the duration of Surfaces 2004, industry experts will demonstrate the latest how-to flooring techniques live on the show floor at the Installation Showcase, sponsored by Surfaces and the WFCA. Topics to be covered include patterned carpet and upholstery on stairs; tile and stone installation; moisture, sealers and alkalinity; fiber-optic laminate design; hardwood sales and installation; resilient and rubber flooring installation; and ceramic and hardwood design installations. Demonstrations will take place 11 a.m. to noon and 2 to 3 p.m. on Jan. 28; 10 to 11 a.m., 1 to 2 p.m. and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 29; and 10 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 2 p.m. on Jan. 30.

In addition to the Town Hall and Installation Showcase, this year's Mannington Mills-sponsored Conference Program will afford attendees a chance to broaden their skills and knowledge via 41 all-new sessions. Five targeted tracks -- marketing, business, sales, design and installation -- will give attendees the opportunity to hone in on the key areas of their businesses that need additional direction. In-depth, focused workshops will take place 9 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 27 before the exhibit hall opens. Seminars will take place 8 to 9:30 a.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 28-29, as well as 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 30.

Among the courses are: "Going Green to Make More Green," moderated by Jeff Golden, NFT editorial director and publisher, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 28; "Preventing Flooring Failures: Proper Techniques of Subfloor Preparation," with John Moore, NFT tile and stone editor and editor of the new Tile supplement; NFT columnist Chris Capobianco of Toli International; and Tim Cole of Forbo, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 28; and "Profiting with Custom Flooring Designs," with Phil Johnson, BNP Media group publisher, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 28. On Jan. 29, NFT columnist Janet Carter ASID presents "More in Store: Rejecting the Cookie-Cutter Look," from 8 to 9:30 a.m., and "Make Them Buy From You, Not the Competition!" from 4 to 5:30. Also featured on Jan. 29, from 8 to 9:30 a.m., is "Marketing Your Store's Installation Services," with NFT Senior Editor Howard Olansky; Tom Jennings CFE; Jim Lee, FIANA president; and Marty Murdoch, vice-chairman of FCICA.

Attendees can earn credits toward industry certification programs through many of the workshops and seminars presented at the Conference Program. Many of the workshops and seminars may also qualify for the WFCA certification program, including designations for Certified Flooring Executive, Certified Flooring Professional and Certified Flooring Salesperson. In addition, for the first time at Surfaces, WFCA will offer certification testing from 11 a.m. to noon on Jan. 30.

Additional credits are also accruable by attendees depending on the courses chosen. Attendees can earn credits toward their ASID, AIBD, IIDA and -- new for this year -- AIA certifications.

For more information on Surfaces 2004, the Town Hall, Installation Showcase or Conference Program, telephone (800) 547-3477 or visit www.SurfacesExpo.com on the Internet.