The show floor at last year’s Surfaces show. Photo courtesy of Hanley Wood.

This year’s Surfaces 2011 general session will focus on the importance of persevering against all odds, when author and outdoorsman Aron Ralston takes the stage to share his harrowing story of being pinned by an 800-pound boulder during a solo canyon hike and the life-altering decision he made to free himself.

Ralston, who was trapped for more than five days, will present “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Overcoming Adversity” 8:30 to 10 a.m. Jan. 25 at Surfaces’ new venue, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. His story, which was recently made into the film 127 Hours, starring James Franco and directed by Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle, is designed to inspire attendees with its message of perseverance and courage, according to Chelsie Thornton, Surfaces conference manager.

“Aron’s story is sure to inspire all in attendance. His message of goal-attaining, perseverance and hope is applicable both personally and professionally,” she said.

Surfaces, with exhibits running Jan. 25-27 (educational classes start Jan. 24), will be held in conjunction with StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, which features a wide range of both natural stone products and fabricating equipment. Additionally, thanks to a renewed partnership between Surfaces/StonExpo and World Market Center Las Vegas, attendees can move freely between Surfaces/StonExpo and the Las Vegas Market, running Jan. 24-28.

An educational presentation during last year’s show; this year’s show will include a wide range of educational courses and themed designer days. Photo courtesy of Hanley Wood.

“The co-location gives floor covering professionals the opportunity to expand their product offerings and increase their knowledge,” noted Kelly Cooper, Surfaces marketing manager. “This is going to be an exciting year.”

Surfaces will include three themed educational events: A two-day Floor Covering Inspectors Symposium (Jan. 24-25), Designing with Natural Stone (9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 25), and Designer Day (8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26).

The Jan. 24-25 symposium, developed for inspectors, retailers, distributors, manufacturers, installers, specifiers, and architects and designers, will include both presentations and hands-on courses from top experts in the field. Attendees will qualify for two IICRC CEC credits.

The Designing with Natural Stone event on Jan. 25 will offer architects and designers continuing education credits (5.5 LUs/HSWs, including two SD credits) and will feature a case study of the M Resort & Spa in Las Vegas, along with a range of presentations on natural stone and a guided tour of StonExpo.

Aron Ralston will present the General Session at Surfaces. Photo by Michael Alvarez/courtesy of Hanley Wood.

National Floor Trendscolumnist Annette Callari will kick off the Designer Day event on Jan. 26 with her presentation “Increasing Sales Through the Psychology of Color,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. The Designer Day will also include a tour of the Surfaces show floor, presentations from other design experts, and a guided tour of the Aria Hotel & Casino at CityCenter.

Callari will hold another seminar, “Color Visions 2011, PLUS Hot Marketing Trends You Need to Know,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Jan. 27. She is one of severalNFTcolumnists who will share their knowledge with show-goers. Other presentations include: “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About the Commercial Flooring Business,” 3 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 24, presented byNFTcolumnist Dave Stafford, Re:Source Floors owner and president Alan Beswick, and Starnet Worldwide president and ceo Jeanne Matson; and “Marketing Your Business on a Beer Budget,” noon to 1 p.m. Jan. 25, and “Heart and Mind Leadership,” 4 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 25, both presented byNFTcolumnist Sam Allman.

NFTwill again hold its annual Styling Excellence Awards at Surfaces. Show-goers can vote for the best products in a range of flooring categories, through ballots available at the show and online.

Also returning this year is the New Product Showcase. The 2011 edition will feature new products in a glass case in the show lobby. As part of the showcase, Surfaces will hold its annual Best New Product contest. The winner will be awarded during the show and judged by a panel that will include the staffs ofNFT, Floor Covering InstallerandTILE Magazine.

Exhibits at Surfaces/StonExpo will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 25, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 26 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 27. The Las Vegas Market will run 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 24-27, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 28.VisitNFTat Surfaces at booth #S2238. For more information on the shows, visit, and