Following in the steps of Mohawk, Shaw, Congoleum and Columbia Flooring, Armstrong has decided to bow out of Surfaces 2004.

Armstrong is making its new customer visitation center, Armstrong Avenue, the centerpiece for year-round trade shows in lieu of attending Surfaces, the annual flooring trade show in Las Vegas.

While Surfaces, organized by exhibitor Hanley-Wood, is a leading industry event, Armstrong's strategic plan now calls for achieving "a more intimate contact" with customers, according to the company.

Armstrong Avenue, the company's two-story, 20,000-square-foot center in Lancaster, features Armstrong's full portfolio of products. In 2004, the company says it plans to bring more than 1,000 flooring customers to the Avenue. Customers visiting overnight have the opportunity to stay at the Armstrong Manor, a 19th century home equipped as an inn and conference center.

Armstrong is also planning more than 100 "town hall meetings" with its distributor partners in their local markets, the company says.