The opportunities and challenges facing retailers will be front and center at Surfaces 2010, set for Feb. 1-4 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The show’s opening General Session, “Facing Challenges and Winning: A Retail Power Panel,” will bring together seven retail executives nationwide to address ways retailers can stay profitable and build their businesses.

Surfaces will also debut a 6,500 sq. ft. Retailers Pavilion, a dedicated meeting area and exhibit space exclusively for buying groups.

“We’re really hoping that by focusing on retailers, we’ll get some of those folks to come back to the show,” said Kelly Cooper, Surfaces marketing manager. “We understand that the core of the show is retailers, and we want to give them tools, ideas and strategies to not only weather the storm, but be successful in the future.”

The retailer-focused General Session, scheduled to open the show 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, will feature a panel of top executives sharing their experiences and advice. The session will include: Steve Silverman, president of Abbey Carpet; Vinnie Virga, president of Flooring America; Jeff Macco, president of the National Floorcovering Alliance; Jeanne Matson, president and CEO of Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership; Bruce Weber, founder and CEO of American Home Surfaces Group; Scott Perron, president of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlet; and Ron Dunn, co-CEO of CarpetsPlus/Color Tile. Gerri Willis, CNN financial correspondent, will moderate the event.

Surfaces will also host the Retailers Pavilion, with an eye toward helping retailers find new opportunities, according to Cooper. The pavilion will give buying groups “a chance to meet with their members as well as prospective members,” Cooper said. “We’ve never done a pavilion like this before.”

While retailers will be a primary focus of the show, Surfaces will also feature educational courses and events targeted to designers, installers and distributors. Surfaces organizers are planning a Designer Day on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The event will include a keynote luncheon with Kim Myles, host of HGTV’s Myles of Style. The day will also feature a behind the scenes walking tour of the new Encore hotel property in Las Vegas, and a walking tour of Surfaces.

The New Product Showcase (known last year as the New Product Pavilion) will offer showgoers a sneak peak at some of the latest products. The themed area in Hall G is sponsored by National Floor Trends, Floor Covering Installer and TILE Magazine. The Best New Product contest, aimed at honoring the most innovative new product featured in the New Product Showcase, will also return next year, and is sponsored by NFT, FCI and TILE.

The three BNP Media magazines will also sponsor a series of new On-Floor Education Events. The Business and Technology stage (Booth #1254) will be sponsored by NFT. Topics set to be presented at the Business and Technology stage include: WFCA Consumer Study: Understanding the Female Flooring Customer, with Beth Surowiec of Clear Seas Research; and Learn How Retailers Use B2B/EDI for a Competitive Advantage  into Your Operation, by Aaron Pirner of CAP Carpet, Wichita, and Pam Bowe, FC B2B executive director.

The Installation stage (Booth #4670) will be sponsored by FCI and TILE. Ray Thompson, Jr., FCI and NFT columnist will present, Moisture Problems Defined and Solved in an Hour.

Sustainability and Design/Trends subjects will be covered on two other stages.
“These stages are set up for about 30 to 40 people, which will mean a chance for a smaller, more intimate audience,” Cooper noted. “With these new sessions attendees can come in and get a really good educational session, and it’s about all different types of education this year, not just installation.” Plans call for at least four sessions per day, per stage, during the run of the show, she added.

Themed international pavilions will also return next year, showcasing some of the latest products from Italy, China, Mexico and India. Additionally, Surfaces 2010 will see the return of an area aimed at offering retailers and designers a range of ancillary products, including window fashions, countertops, wall coverings and cabinets. Called Surfaces Elevations in 2009, the pavilion will return in 2010 under the name “Above the Baseboard.”

Cooper said the new and returning programs are designed to equip show attendees with the latest information. She noted the show should be especially important to those looking to buy. “There are lots of show-only specials offered at Surfaces, designed to help retailers and distributors save money and make money. People can come to Surfaces and see the latest products and get the latest education. But also, they can quite literally make money by taking advantage of the show-only promotions offered by suppliers.”

For more information or to register, visit www.surfaces.com.

NFT experts to offer insights at Surfaces

Look for these courses featuring NFT columnists:

“Expanding Into Commercial Business: What Is Your Next Step?”
9 a.m. to noon Feb. 1
with NFT columnist Dave Stafford and Sim Crisler, owner and president of LGM and Associates.

“Color Vision 2010”
8 to 9:30 a.m. Feb. 3
with NFT columnist Annette Callari.

“Managing Financials For Business Success”
noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 3
with NFT columnist Sam Allman.

“Heart and Mind Selling”
4 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 3
with San Allman