A show goer browses products at last year’s New Product Pavilion. The Pavilion, sponsored by NFT, FCI and TILE, is set to return this year.

With Surfaces 2009 fast approaching, organizers say they are working on an agenda specifically designed to help show goers combat the economic slump. The meeting in Las Vegas will begin with the show’s first-ever General Session. Set to run from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3, the session will feature top executives in flooring who will address the state of the industry and how to keep business growing in a struggling market.

Titled “Prevailing Through the Current Crisis: An Industry Wake-up Call,” the session will begin with comments from Keith Campbell, chairman of Mannington Mills and will be followed by a panel discussion. Scheduled to participate are Beaulieu of America’s Ralph Boe; Mannington’s Tom Davis; Mohawk’s Tom Lape; Shaw’s Randy Merritt; and Frank Ready of Armstrong. The panel will be moderated by Gerri Willis, a correspondent for the cable network CNN. The day-one event is being coordinated by Chris Ramey, the founder of Affluent Insights (a consulting firm focused on high-end luxury market), and Jim Gould, president of the Floor Covering Institute.

Surfaces spokesperson Kelly Cooper notes that the perspective of top level executives should prove highly valuable. “This is a session that all our attendees can benefit from, and will hopefully start the show on a positive note,” she said. “It’s designed to give show goers insight into the foreseeable future, and talk about when things might take a turn for the better. It also gives customers a platform to ask these industry leaders directly the questions they want answered.”

She added that organizers were pleased to see Armstrong announce its return to the show after a four-year hiatus. While the flooring maker will not have an exhibit on the show floor, it will be one of several companies exhibiting in a special Product Showroom adjacent to Hall D. According to Cooper, these showrooms allow time for both “private hours and public hours.”

The Product Showrooms are designed similar to the New Product Pavilion, a special area that debuted last year to offer show goers a preview of high profile new products and services being presented at the show. The Pavilion will once again be sponsored by National Floor Trendsalong with sister magazinesFloor Covering InstallerandTILE Magazine. Cooper said the addition of a Best New Product award is likely to increase interest in the Pavilion. Entries will be judged by a panel of experts.

Also debuting at the 2009 show will be Surfaces Elevations which will feature countertops, window treatments, wall coverings and other interior design products. “Retailers want to see all of these choices,” Cooper explained. “They want to see the breadth of products available, not just in flooring, but in the total room.”

Surfaces Elevations, which will be housed in Hall G, adjacent to the New Product Pavilion, will also include a stage for manufacturers including MAPEI, Forbo Flooring and Custom Building Products to present product demonstrations.

Surfaces 2009
When: Feb. 3-5, 2009 (Tues.-Thurs.)
Where: Sands Expo & Convention Center, Las Vegas
More info: www.Surfaces.com or call (800) 547-3477