Having weathered an avalanche of bad financial news and witnessed a sharp drop in sales, people in the flooring business will have plenty on their minds during our industry’s most important event. But, as the show begins, I want to make a modest proposal: Let’s try and keep Surfaces--the entire show floor, the workshops and meeting rooms--free from needless griping and complaining (orkvetchingas they say in Yiddish). A dour mood is contagious and it accomplishes nothing; and believe me, there is much to be done at Surfaces ‘09.
Having weathered an avalanche of bad
financial news and witnessed a sharp drop in sales, people in the flooring
business will have plenty on their minds during our industry’s most important
event. But, as the show begins, I want to make a modest proposal: Let’s try and
keep Surfaces--the entire show floor, the workshops and meeting rooms--free
from needless griping and complaining (orkvetchingas they say in
Yiddish). A dour mood is contagious and it accomplishes nothing; and believe
me, there is much to be done at Surfaces ‘09.
Even if the future seems murky, standing still is not
an option. Hand wringing is not a strategy. Those who skip Surfaces this year
to save money are as shortsighted as a farmer who fails to re-seed. The seeds
that can help a floor covering business flourish include compelling products,
business know-how and useful industry contacts. All three can be found in every
corner of Surfaces.
Many of you will point out that sluggish sales
have clogged the supply pipeline. Retailers frequently say they can’t sell what
they have in stock. But it would be a huge mistake to neglect the many new
products at this show. There is a new generation of flooring (as well as in-store
displays) that has been engineered to specifically address the demands of a
changing marketplace. This is why we are once again co-sponsoring the New
Product Pavilion at the show (which is where our exhibit is located). It is
also why we will again honor standout products with our Styling Excellence
Awards (be sure to cast your vote at our exhibit). There are many new things at
this show that will help distinguish you from your competitors..
Just a few eye catching examples: USFloors’ new Natural Bamboo
Wovens features bamboo with a weave of cork to skillfully blend two popular
Green products. EcoTekTiles being debuted by Ustek include a built-in
underlayment beneath the top surface tile. They are a snap to install, easy to
replace and look very much like real marble, cork or wood. Kradal Flooring has
a new resilient floor specifically designed to reduce slip and fall injuries
that is targeted directly at older folks and their caregivers. Formica
Flooring’s new laminate Bellezza Botticino in Classic Dark is a beautiful
natural stone with a dramatic mirror finish. Also, a personal favorite:
Mannington has added Urbanite, a resilient floor that looks like the tile seen
in old subway stations. The company is also launching a hardwood display system
that gives dealers maximum flexibility (hence the nameUltraFlex). It is just one of a number of
display systems debuting at the show made in response to dealer concerns about
Then there are the opportunities to learn. The show on
Tuesday begins at 8:30 a.m. with the first-ever General Session (at
the Venetian’s Palazzo Ballroom). TitledPrevailing
Through the Current Crisis-An Industry Wake-Up Call!,it will
include the perspective of six top executives: Rainer Blair of MAPEI of
Americas; Ralph Boe of Beaulieu of America; Tom Davis of Mannington Mills; Tom
Lape of Mohawk Residential; Randy Merritt of Shaw Industries; and Frank Ready
Also, I am
proud to say a number ofNFTcolumnists will be leading sessions. Our retail expert Warren Tyler will teach
showgoers his “POW! ZAP! Supercharge Your Sales!” method (Feb 3 at noon).
Designs in Style columnist Annette Callari will cover “Interpreting
Generational Marketing Trends” (Feb. 4
at noon). Also, our resilient flooring
guru, Ray Thompson Jr., will discuss “Common Types of Installation Failures”
(Feb. 5 at 8 a.m.).
Another highlight: Phil Johnson, group publisher
forNFT, FCIandTILE,will moderate the panel (Feb. 4 at 4 p.m.),Green From Wall Street to Main Street -- It is Not a Passing Fad.Included is an impressive panel: Dave Kitts, Mannington’s vp
environment; Rick Ramirez, vp sustainability and environmental affairs for
Shaw; and Anderson’s ceo, Don Finkell.
These are only a few
highlights of Surfaces this year. And let’s not forget the opportunities for
networking with peers. So, whether you are brainstorming with colleagues,
learning new tricks of the trade or identifying some wonderful new products,
don’t despair and don’t lament your current position. If you are in Las Vegas
for Surfaces, you are in exactly the right place.
Make Surfaces a ‘No Kvetching' Zone
February 13, 2009