Surfaces is set for Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Las Vegas.

Each year, the show floor at Surfaces is bustling with retailers, architects, designers, installers, distributors and flooring executives. Though Surfaces’ primary aim is to arm everyone in the industry with the latest products, techniques and knowledge, much of the show’s focus  remains on its core group: retailers. In that spirit, Surfaces will offer a host of new services specifically designed to appeal to  the retail community.

Surfaces organizers are reaching out to retailers this year with the addition of three new product pavilions showcasing the latest flooring and specialty products. Sponsored by National Floor Trends along with Floor Covering Installer and TILE Magazine, the new pavilions will be dedicated to exhibits of New Products, Decorative Concrete and Hand-Crafted Tile.

Show organizer Kelly Cooper, said the new areas will give retailers and other decision makers a chance to preview products in a more timely manner. “These pavilions will show off some of the hottest, latest trends. The high-end specialty flooring in decorative concrete and hand-crafted tile especially will be of interest not only to retailers, but architects and designers as well,” she said.

The Decorative Concrete and Hand-Crafted pavilions will include the actual exhibits of participating companies. The New Product Pavilion will showcase only select new entries in the hope that showgoers will be enticed to visit the full exhibit. Located prominently near the entrance to Hall G, the pavilion will not be staffed except for the NFT, FCI and TILE exhibit located within the pavilion. The remainder of the 3,500 sq. ft. area will be devoted  to new products from all segments of the industry. Additionally, visitors to the pavilion will be asked to vote on their favorite new item  as part of the 2008 NFT Styling Excellence Awards. Additionally, Surfaces organizers plan to present their own Best New Product Award well before the show concludes,  “so the winner can get award signage up before the start of the last day.”

Two high profile events at Surfaces will coincide with the new pavilions. The annual NFT Styling Excellence Awards, which honors the best new designer-friendly products, will include two added categories this year: Decorative Concrete and Countertops (including hand-crafted tile). NFT publisher Jeff Golden, noted that the new categories will make this year’s Styling Excellence Awards the most comprehensive ever.

“Each year, we honor the best new products in the industry with the NFT Styling Excellence Awards,” he says. “The addition of these two categories let’s us open up the competition up to more participants than ever. And by extension, we are making the awards even more useful to designers and retailers.”

Votes can be cast  during Surfaces, or online at Deadline is Feb. 16.

The new pavilions have prompted organizers to make several additions to the highly popular Installation Showcase presented on the showfloor.  Included this year will be special presentations on decorative concrete and metal and glass tiles. The Installation Showcase, which includes a series of live demonstrations by noted experts, is sponsored by NFT, FCI, the World Floor Covering Association and Certified Floorcovering Installers.

The new installation topics are designed to teach installers how to work with specialty flooring. “We’re essentially taking the products from the new pavilions and into the Installation Showcase,” Cooper said “So not only do retailers learn how to sell these new products at the show, but installers learn how to install them.”

The staff of NFT and its sister magazine Floor Covering Installer are also  extensively involved in the other presentations. Classes taught by NFT and FCI’s columnists will include: “Pre-Installation Forum” with Mickey Moore, Peter Craig, Dave Gobis and John Wabake moderating, 4 to 5:30 p.m. Jan 30; “How to Survive and Thrive During a Slowing Economy” with Sam Allman, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 31 and 8 to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 1 (Allman will also teach “POW! ZAP! SELL Like a Superhero” from noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 31); “Banishing Discounts Forever” with Warren Tyler, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 31; “Have You Considered the Commercial Market Possibilities?” with Dave Stafford, 4 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 31; and “Common Causes of Post-Installation Failures” with Jon Namba, Karen Mason and John Moore moderating, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 1.

Also debuting this year is a comfortable Attendee Lounge that will offer  Internet stations, a bookstore featuring titles by many of the speakers at Surfaces, and a place to relax. “Attendees can also make hotel and dinner reservations from the lounge,” Cooper added. “Our retailers are probably our number one demographic in attendance. We’re trying to raise the bar for them and our other attendees as well.”

Surfaces will run from  Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. For more information, visit or call (972) 536-6400.