The Installation Showcase incorporates seven hour-long presentations from expert installers.

Last year, Surfaces welcomed more than 38,000 industry professionals to the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. Hanley Wood says Surfaces 2006 should exceed this number.

The exhibits are usually compelling, many of the new products are a "must-see" and the setting-Las Vegas-can be a lot more fun than adults should have. Still, these drawing cards are not the chief reason most of the industry will make the trek to Surfaces 2006 early next year. Veterans of the shows say the main reason they never miss a Surfaces can be summed up in one word: interaction.

They anticipate that the trade show, scheduled for Feb. 1-3 at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, will once again be the gathering place for flooring professional. Show organizers say the 2006 show is already on track to exceed the more than 38,000 attendees and 1,000 manufacturers that were on hand for the record-setting 2005 event. The retailers, designers, distributors, sales reps, installers and manufacturers on hand this year will once again have two levels of exhibits to explore. In addition to this extensive showcase of new products, there is a busy schedule of educational seminars as well as live installation demonstrations on the show floor.

Those who are set to make the trip say the agenda may be a bit overwhelming, but it is a perfect way to take the pulse of the industry and find answers to specific questions.

"I'm quite curious to see how our industry is going to handle the uncertainty we're all feeling because of oil prices," says Lee Horwitz, president of Fresno, Calif.-based A&M Carpet. A veteran of the industry who regularly attends Surfaces, Horwitz says he's hoping to find some reassurance about the overall direction of the business. He says he is eager to meet with manufacturers to help him gauge the effect of price hikes and material shortages that have been brought on by the skyrocketing price of oil.

"I want to see how the industry plans on handling the current situation. I especially want to talk with the smaller manufacturers, find out their perceptions of the situation and how it affects them," adds Horwitz. He notes that the ability to have face-to-face meetings with others in the business is the biggest attraction. "The interaction is everything. I spend much more time listening and talking with people than I do shopping. At Surfaces, you are able to cross all party lines, and talk to dealers of every stripe. The information from these talks can be invaluable."

Alan Delahunty, president of Salt Lake City's Floor Coverings by Certified, agrees that Surfaces is an ideal forum for networking. "The show lets me participate in discussion with many different manufacturers and distributors that I normally have little to no contact with," he says.

He adds that another advantage of the show is the opportunity to see firsthand which products are drawing a crowd. "It's important to keep in mind that Surfaces is a trade show, not a show specifically designed to write orders," Delahunty explains. "But if the exhibitors understand the show properly, they can write a tremendous amount of orders. There will be exhibitors at Surfaces who understand the show, and there will be those who are a million miles away from understanding the show. The success lies with that first group."

J.R. Harris, a 51-year veteran of the industry and co-owner of Waldorf Carpet One in Waldorf, Md., urges retailers to keep a sharp eye and an open mind while in Las Vegas. Exploring the latest flooring technologies and enriching their industry knowledge should be top priorities, he says. For his part, Harris says he is drawn to anything that has to do with installation, whether it's the latest tools or how-to tips seen in Installation Showcase demonstrations.

"Every year I look forward to it," he says. "I'm not one of those guys who says ‘We used to do it better.' I can say we do it better now than ever before."

Seven, one-hour installation demonstrations are planned for the show. Expert installers will demonstrate the installation of hardwood, resilient, ceramic, stone, carpet and self-leveling compounds. The Installation Showcase, which is sponsored by Laticrete, is produced in conjunction with the World Floor Covering Association, the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Assoc., Floor Covering Installer and National Floor Trends magazines.

According to Michelle Troop, Surfaces senior show director, flooring retailers will also have the opportunity to widen their perspective during the popular Surfaces Conference Program. The 2006 schedule offers 42 courses in six tracks: Marketing, Business, Sales, Design, Installation and Window Coverings, which is positioned as an extension of the Window Coverings Pavilion. "These sessions are designed to provide strategic information that attendees can take away and apply to their businesses right away," says Troop.

Editors and columnists of BNP Media's NFT, FCI and TILE magazines will be among the presenters slated to participate in the Conference Program, which is sponsored by Mannington. NFT columnists Janet Carter and Dave Gobis will present pre-show workshops Jan. 31 ("Making the 5th Wall an Important Feature" and "Ceramic Tile: Meeting the Consumer Demand," respectively). Al Stewart, editor of NFT, will moderate the retailer panel "Retailers' Most Valuable B2B Practices," 4 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 1. Earlier in that day, TILE columnist Patti Fasan will speak about "Trends in Ceramic Tile," 8 to 9:30 a.m. On the last day of the show, Feb. 3, FCI editor John Moore, FCI columnist Jon Namba, Mickey Moore of NOFMA, and Paul Micalizzi of TCNA will present "Common Causes of Installation Failures."

On the final day of Surfaces one lucky attendee will win a 2006 Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The winner will be selected in a drawing of names collected by electronic badge readers at designated exhibits. They include Anderson, Beaulieu of America, BR-111, Camelot, Columbia, Dixie Home, Faus, Gulistan, Invista, Mannington Mills, MAPEI, Nourison, Pinnacle Interior Elements, Royalty Carpet Mills, Quick-Step, Solutia and Wilsonart.

For further information on the show, phone (800) 547-3477 or visit