After a four-year absence, Armstrong says it will return to Surfaces next year with a 2,800 sq. ft. Product Showroom located in Hall D adjacent to the show floor. The company says it plans to have about 50 representatives on hand for the show in Las Vegas including CEO Frank J. Ready.

Show organizers said Ready has also agreed to participate in a panel discussion during a newly added Opening General Session event that is scheduled for Feb. 3, the first day of the show. Scheduled to join him for the discussion are Ralph Boe, COO of Beaulieu; Tom Davis, president and CEO of Mannington Mills; Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Industries’ Residential Division, and Randy Merritt, president of Shaw Industries. Gerri Willis, a correspondent for the cable-TV network CNN, is slated to moderate the discussion.

“We are very excited to have Armstrong returning to Surfaces,” said the show’s marketing manager Kelly Cooper. “It really shows that during tough times the people in this industry come together and push in the right direction.’’ She added that the decision to add an Opening Session to the show schedule was an effort to bring attendees together and discuss the “future growth, the economical forecast, product trends, challenges to traditional retail channels and more.”

Armstrong spokesperson Carlene Moloney noted the company’s Product Showroom would be similar in concept to the New Product Pavilion that debuted at last year’s meeting. The Pavilion, which was sponsored by National Floor Trends and its sister publications Floor Covering Installer and TILE Magazine, provided showgoers a chance to see many of the products being introduced at the show in one area. She said the popularity of the New Product Pavilion influenced the company’s decision to rejoin Surfaces. While admission to the Armstrong Showroom will be by appointment only during the first half of the show it will be open to show attendees Feb. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. and Feb. 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While Armstrong had been a long time participant at Surfaces, the company stopped exhibiting after the 2004 meeting to focus on regional events. Cooper said the decision to return to the show using a showroom format is a less costly way to assure visibility without constructing and staffing a full exhibit, as Armstrong once did.  

In announcing Armstrong’s return to the industry’s most significant trade event, the company’s vp of sales Paul Murfin said: “We are pleased to announce that Armstrong will hold public hours during Surfaces where customers can preview new products and merchandising displays and discuss how we can work together to build their business.”

Surfaces 2009 is set for Feb. 3 -5, 2009 (Tuesday – Thursday) at the Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas. For more information on Surfaces, please visit www.Surfaces.com or call ( 800) 547-3477.