The sense of urgency seen these days in the flooring business may make this year’s meeting the most important Surfaces ever. A great many flooring dealers traveling to the show were hit hard last year by the ripple of a lousy housing market. They’ve come to Las Vegas in search of solutions, fresh ideas and maybe a little encouragement. Given the show’s deep roots in our industry and the major improvements added this year, they have most certainly come to the right place.

Let’s begin with a major addition to Surfaces that we are very excited about: The New Product Pavilion. NFT,together with our sister publicationsFloor Covering InstallerandTILE,is sponsoring this new exhibit as a way to generate exposure for products making their debut at Surfaces this year. It will be included in a 3,500 sq. ft. area adjacent to the Hall G entrance.NFT, FCIandTILEwill also sponsor Pavilions for Decorative Concrete and Hand-Crafted Tile elsewhere on the show floor.

Appropriately enough, the New Product showcase area we are sponsoring is also where you will find our main exhibit. (Stop by and say hello). We wanted to be situated there because we feel it’s in keeping with our commitment to the flooring industry and a reflection of our editorial mission.NFThas long advocated that flooring is, above all else, a fashion business. As we see it, it’s not just about trying to sell flooring. The goal is to help people achieve the home of their dreams. The surest way to drive sales is to evoke passion; and the best way to do that is to break new ground and offer the consumer new and exciting options-something they have not seen before. Many of the products found in these new pavilions will enable dealers to do just that.

Our decision to increase our commitment to Surfaces and expand our presence at the show is also in keeping with the advice coming these days from all corners of the flooring business. Regardless of what segment of the business you work in, industry veterans caution that this is not the time for retreat. Certainly, we are all working in a challenging environment, but we keep hearing that now is the time to pick up the pace and leverage your key strengths. We have always seen our long-standing commitment to Surfaces as a key reason NFT is the leader among publications in the flooring business. If we are going to urge our readers to be assertive and invest in marketing during time of challenge, we thought it might be a good idea to follow our own advice.

Of course, in addition to the three new product areas debuting this year, we will continue our other areas of participation at Surfaces. Once again we are asking for your help selecting new flooring entries that merit our coveted Styling Excellence Award. Showgoers can pick up a ballot at our exhibit (or visit our website and vote for their favorite entry in several categories (Those casting a vote will be eligible to win some nice prizes).

Another high profile event at Surfaces that we are once again very proud to be involved with is the Installation Showcase. In good times and bad, the shortage of top notch installers remains a thorn in the side of the flooring  industry. This is why experts like our Tile and Stone columnist Dave Gobis share their vast knowledge through demos on the show floor. As is the case with a number of our contributors, Dave will also be presenting an educational seminar during the show. Our columnists Sam Allman, Warren Tyler and Dave Stafford will also be leading their own sessions as well.

So, if you are reading this while in Las Vegas for the show, take a good look around. Everywhere you turn, whether it’s on the show floor, the  New Product Pavilion or one of the meeting rooms, you will find a bounty of resources that can make the difference this year. And let’s not forget one of the biggest reasons people come to Las Vegas. There is an unmistakable sense of camaraderie that comes when people gather with a shared purpose. Surfaces reminds us that we are all rowing in the same boat. That’s important to remember; particularly when the water gets choppy.