The slumping economy has led many in the flooring industry to conclude 2009 will be a make-it-or-break-it year for them. Organizers of the Surfaces meeting scheduled for Feb. 3-5 in Las Vegas say they are well aware of these concerns and have responded with an agenda that addresses the challenges ahead.
Topping the list is the first general session ever scheduled for a Surfaces meeting. The focus of the session, set for Tues., Feb. 3 at 8:30 am, is reflected in the title: Prevailing Through the Current Crisis – An Industry Wakeup Call! The discussion will include top executives weighing in on ways to keep business going. It will begin with opening remarks from the chairman of Mannington Mills, Keith Campbell.
Some of those planning to attend Surfaces note the stakes could not be higher. Paul Engle, vp marketing for Royalty Carpet Mills, says the number of flooring stores operating in the U.S. may drop as much as 30 percent by next summer, compared to two years ago when housing prices began falling. He adds that those that make it through the downturn will emerge better positioned then ever. The current conditions have positioned Surfaces 2009 as an indispensible part of the equation, he says.
“One reason retailers come to Surfaces is to get reacquainted with their vendors,” Engle notes. “They want to reconnect with the management at those vendors, but they also want to see which vendors are the status quo, which are moving forward and which are laying back. They can get a good overview of the industry that way.”
Additionally, the show acts as a support network. “Retailers are coming to Surfaces wanting to get a feel that what’s happening to their business is not unique to their business alone,” Engle says. “They want reassurance.”
Jeremy Gorr, a senior marketing manager for Custom Building Products, adds that the decision to attend reflects a company’s commitment to the flooring business. “Surfaces is important to Custom Building Products because the show is important to our industry. When the economy stabilizes and begins to turn around, much of what has happened at Surfaces will have an effect on the future of our collective business.”
MAPEI’s operational marketing manager, Steven Day, agrees: “The Surfaces show is an industry staple, and we feel it is important to be a part of the show in order to assure attendees we are prepared for the year ahead.” He adds that there are many advantages to attending. “It provides people with tools and solutions to move their businesses forward. The conferences, exhibits and product demonstrations will give them ideas to attract new customers and insights into how they can improve operational efficiency while they plan for the future.”
In good time and bad, a top priority for exhibitors is to showcase their most eye-catching new products, remarks Patricia Flavin, sr. vp marketing for Beaulieu of America. Beaulieu plans several additions to its Bliss residential carpet line including Bliss for Kids “For trendsetters, Bliss will introduce Flirtation, a sexy, high fashion look with luxurious patterns and textures. And for Healthy Home we have extended our line and added zinc to our Silver Release technology,” Flavin says. She adds: “We believe Surfaces is an important catalyst for the industry and is even more important when business is struggling. If ever there was a time to create or maintain a competitive edge for retailers, it’s now.”
For more information, visit www.Surfaces.com.
NFT at Surfaces: Styling Excellence Awards, New Product Pavilion returnNational Floor Trends will once again be honoring the most innovative and creative new designs in flooring with the annual Styling Excellence Awards. Showgoers are invited to pick up a ballot at the NFT exhibit (Booth 116), examine the nominated products, and then cast their vote either at the exhibit or online at www.ntlfloortrends.com.
Additionally, NFT will be hosting the New Product Pavilion in association with sister publications Floor Covering Installer and TILE Magazine. The Pavilion, situated adjacent to the NFT exhibit, was launched at the 2008 show and is devoted exclusively to products in every category that are making their debut at Surfaces. Showgoers are encouraged to browse the display before heading out to visit other exhibits. Added this year will be a Best New Product award presented by show organizers.
“The NFT Styling Excellence Awards and New Product Pavilion are perfect fits for Surfaces,” remarked Jeff Golden, editorial director and publisher of NFT. “They also reflect NFT’s longstanding commitment to showcasing the ingenuity and talent that drive this industry.”