An Installation Showcase demonstration at last year’s Surfaces.

In an industry that increasingly favors fashionable looks over cookie-cutter designs, it is no surprise that Surfaces is aiming to draw more designers and architects to the show. To that end, show organizers are offering a focused slate of events with an eye toward giving design professionals the best tools to maximize their time at Surfaces, scheduled for Feb. 7-9 at the Sands Convention & Expo Center in Las Vegas. Called the Designer/Architect Show Package, the multi-day program includes targeted workshops and seminars, a special keynote luncheon with famed decorator Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz and a networking reception geared specifically to the A&D community.

The new programs are a reaching out of sorts to the design community, notes Surfaces spokewoman Lisa Robidoux. She notes that Surfaces has not switched its focus: retailer attendance still makes up the bulk of the show. However, she says, it is also important for Surfaces to entice the design community.

“We wanted to get architects and designers excited about the show,” she says. “There are so many new styles, colors and trends out there. And who better to understand them all?”

More than 40,000 show goers packed the floors at last year’s Surfaces event.

Manufacturers say they also have a lot to gain at Surfaces. Not only does the show act as a launching pad for flooring makers’ latest product designs and styles, but it doubles as a meeting ground where companies and their customers can speak face-to-face.

“We go to Surfaces because our customers are there,” says Mike McAllister, vp marketing information systems for Beaulieu of America. “The last three years we’ve had really good attendance at the show, and from what I can see attendance is going to be a record again this year. Surfaces is the easiest and most cost efficient way for us to see all of our customers,” he adds.

John Woolsey,  Anderson Hardwood Floors’ vp marketing, equates going to Surfaces with being a good industry citizen.

“We support our industry and we believe strongly that attending Surfaces is part of the responsibility of being involved in the industry,” says Woolsey, whose company plans to unveil more than 50 new hardwood introductions at the show. “I don’t understand why a company wouldn’t want to go.”

Mannington Mills spokeswoman Betsy Amoroso says she agrees with the sentiment, bluntly stating “Not being at Surfaces is not an option.”

“It’s important for us to support Surfaces, because in doing so we support the flooring covering distributors and retailers who are the lifeblood of our business,” she says. “It’s a good place for us to see our customers and have them see us, at a significant venue that’s important to the industry overall.”

A MAPEI Corp. staffer offers a product brochure to an attendee at Surfaces 2006. The company plans to exhibit again this year.

Ken Peden, Kronotex’s exec vp, says he will use the show to launch the Formica Flooring laminate brand to a wider audience.

“We are extremely enthusiastic about Formica Flooring’s premier appearance at Surfaces 2007. This event offers a tremendous amount of exposure to thousands of retail store owners nationwide, and we are eager to showcase the Formica Flooring product lineup,” he says.

At least one exhibitor says Surfaces remains a can’t-miss show, but one with its fair share of weaknesses as well as strengths.

“Truthfully, Surfaces is not the best venue for finding new distribution,” says Neal Gray, vp sales for tile maker Vitromex. “But Surfaces remains a way for us to really reach the market.” At the show, his company plans to roll out a range of new products including glazed porcelain tiles, a large-format rectified polished porcelain tile, colorful wall and floor ceramic tiles and comprehensive merchandising systems.

If the old adage is true that numbers don’t lie, Surfaces is shaping up to be a potentially record-breaking event. Last year, the show posted record-breaking attendance upwards of 40,000 show goers and 1,000 exhibiting companies. This year, notes spokeswoman Robidoux notes, that record could be shattered.

“This year is poised to be the biggest and best event to date, with more attendees than last year and more exhibitors than last year,” she says. “Without a doubt, this show is going to be the best yet.” For more information, call (972) 536-6400 or

SIDEBAR: Programs and showcases augment Surfaces show

Surfaces will play host to the latest education programs through the 2007 Conference Program. Sessions on the newest techniques and tips in design highlight the slate of business conferences. Additionally, the program will include targeted courses on Marketing, Business, Sales and Installation, to help ensure that retailers, distributors and retailers also have an edge.

Staffers of BNP Media, the parent company of National Floor Trends, will be on hand moderating several of the conferences. These include NFT editor Al Stewart on “Making the Software Investment,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 8; NFT senior editor Howard Olansky (with industry experts Dennis Blake, Ron Leach and Aaron Pirner) on “Controlling Overhead Costs,” 4 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 8; and Floor Covering Installer editor John Moore (with industry veterans Dave Gobis, Jon Namba and Steve Seabaugh) on “Common Causes of Post-Installation Failures,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9.

The popular Installation Showcases will also make a return. Featuring live, on-stage demonstrations, the showcases teach step-by-step installation and troubleshooting for a wide range of flooring materials. The free events are sponsored by James Hardie, with additional support from National Floor Trends, sister publication Floor Covering Installer, as well as the World Floor Covering Association and the Certified Floor Covering Installer’s Association.