There is no question Surfaces is the industry’s largest all-encompassing trade show in North America. And in 2014, it promises to be even bigger and better with the addition of a new trade show, TileExpo running in conjunction with it, along with a host of new events and activities taking place during the four-day event, which begins Jan. 27 when the educational part of the market gets under way.
Surfaces, which is sponsored by the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), takes place the week of Jan. 27 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas and is co-located not only with the new TileExpo show but once again with the StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas market, forming a mega event now known as The International Surface Event. There are even special events taking place the day after, making this truly a week-long affair.
With so many new things happening at the 2014 show, Floor Trends editor Matthew Spieler spoke with Dana Teague, vice president of Hanley Wood Exhibitions, which owns and runs the multi-faceted event, about what attendees can expect to see, do and accomplish at Surfaces.
FT: There are some big changes in store for people attending Surfaces 2014, most notably the launch of TileExpo. Can you expand on what this is, why it is being added to the show and what can attendees expect to see/get from it?
Teague:The co-location of Surfaces and StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, two existing industry leading trade shows, with the inaugural launch of TileExpo creates a mega event—The International Surface Event. This will be the must attend event for flooring, stone and tile professionals.
TileExpo was launched to better serve the needs of the U.S. tile industry. Co-locating this new product spotlight with two established events offers attendees an increased benefit and value. We know most industry professionals sell, distribute or install more than just one product category; therefore, a multi-faceted event offers everything they need at one time and under one roof.
We believe this is a solid, progressive move to strengthen, solidify and improve the flooring, stone and tile industries.
FT: How will the three shows be laid out in relation to each other?
Teague:The show will be laid out similar to last year—on the first floor, attendees will find primarily hard surfaces, tools, and adhesives for Surfaces, along with StonExpo/Marmomacc, and now TileExpo. The second floor will be primarily soft surfaces, resilient, cork, laminate and hardwood.
In order to accommodate the growth of Surfaces and StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas as well as the launch of TileExpo, we had to expand into Hall A on the first floor, which has not been used in previous years.
FT: How many total exhibitors are you expecting? What about for just the Surfaces part of the show?
Teague:In 2013, there were a total of 700 exhibiting companies with 571 of those participating in Surfaces. We anticipate an approximate 10% to 12% growth in company count over last year. Most of this growth is coming from tile companies as well as firms that have not participated in the show in recent years.
FT: How large will the International Surface Event be?
Between the exhibit halls and product showrooms, it will occupy almost 1 million square feet of space—again, a significant increase over 2013.
FT: Is Surfaces just a show for specialty retail store owners and managers to attend? Who else should attend and why?
Teague:Surfaces is for everyone in the flooring industry and with the co-located events, the entire flooring, stone and tile community will find what they need from products to education to networking.
The event serves specialty retailers, distributors, installers, fabricators, importers/exporters, designers, contractors, architects, cleaning, maintenance and restoration specialists and flooring inspectors.
FT: Because of the size and scope of the show(s) it can be very easy for a person to be overwhelmed upon entering, especially if they are a first-timer. Do you have any suggestions, tips or strategies for how someone should “tackle” the event? And, not just a single person, but what about a retailer/contractor in general; how should a business “attack” the show?
Teague:The easiest way to navigate the event is to plan ahead, and the best way to plan ahead is by using the free mobile app developed specifically for The International Surface Event. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry users and is sponsored by FCA Network.
It can be found by searching “Surfaces,” “StonExpo” or “TileExpo” in the app stores.
With the event’s mobile app, attendees can quickly search the exhibitor list, access the floor plan and search educational sessions and events taking place during the week. It also features a new registration function, which allows users to register for the show in advance.
Other features include a calendar, show alerts during the event and social media integration. Additionally, users can access their hotel reservations and information on local restaurants and attractions in Las Vegas.
The mobile app is an excellent tool, which will make the experience at the show very productive. I highly encourage attendees to take advantage of the mobile app in order to make time spent at this mega-show productive, efficient and enjoyable.
FT: Surfaces will once again host the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) training and certification on the show floor, but this year’s format is different. What’s different and why?
Teague:Surfaces and the CFI, through a partnership to provide installation training for flooring installers, offered carpet certification in 2013. Due to last year’s overwhelming response, attendees now have the opportunity to earn certification in wood, laminate and ceramic flooring installation at Surfaces 2014.
The ceramic and wood/laminate installation training and certifications will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28 and Wednesday, Jan. 29 and will feature some of the industry’s top installation trainers.
Those who successfully complete the CFI requirements of installation certification for the laminate and wood course have the opportunity to apply for certifications from the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) and Armstrong.
Each program is limited to 20 people, so register early!
FT: I see where Surfaces is offering new certifications this year. Can you tell us about those?
Teague:In addition to the expanded CFI certification program, we have added new certifications through NALFA and the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI).
We have partnered with ICRI to provide the floor covering industry a new certification at Surfaces: Concrete Slab Moisture Testing Certification. This new program will be offered Monday, Jan. 27 and Tuesday, Jan. 28, offering attendees the opportunity to become ICRI certified.
What makes this important is ICRI offers the only concrete slab moisture testing certification in the industry today.
We are also partnering with NALFA to offer an Inspector Certification and an Installation Certification on Friday, Jan. 31—the day after the show. NALFA’s certification programs help ensure laminate installations and inspections are at the highest possible standards.
These certifications add more depth to our already diversified education program and enhance the continued value the event brings to attending professionals.
FT: Since you mentioned it, let’s talk education. How many educational sessions will be offered? Are they all the same format, time length, etc.?
Teague:There will be 78 classroom sessions and over 80 on-floor sessions and demonstrations at The International Surface Event 2014.
Three types of educational offerings will be available: Two-hour workshops will be offered on Monday, 90-minute sessions on Monday through Wednesday, and 60-minute sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
We made a couple of format changes based on feedback received from attendees. For example, on Thursday, we will only offer education on the show floor. Also, the afternoon sessions will start and end 15 minutes earlier (3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, rather than 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). Again, this was done based on attendee feedback.
We will again be offering the sessions along educational tracks to make it easier for attendees to choose the ones in the areas most important to their needs. The educational tracks for the 2014 event are as follows:
• Sales & Marketing
• Building, Trends & Design
• Stone Fabrication & Installation
• Flooring Installation
• Care, Maintenance, & Restoration
• Tile Installation
FT: How many sessions are new or different from last year?
Teague:More than 50% of the topics being presented this year are new. Here are a few of them:
• New Social Media and Web Boot Camps
• Business Succession and The New Healthcare Law and Tax Code
• Identifying and Installing Today’s Carpets
• Carpet Installation and the New S-600 Standard
• Tips for Improving Cash Flow
• Habits of Highly Effective Small Business Owners
• Luxury Vinyl Tile
• Protecting the Family and the Family Business
• Color, Style and Floor Décor – Geography Matters
• Introduction to Radiant Floor Heating Systems
• Do You Have a Digital Shoplifting Problem? – How to Prevent Showrooming
FT: Who are the people who lead these sessions; where do they come from?
Teague:We lean heavily on our Education Advisory Council to help us select speakers. They are immersed in the industry and really know who the experts and thought leaders are. The council is comprised of 26 members—14 who specifically represent Surfaces. The council experts represent cleaning and restoration, industry publications, social media, marketing, distribution, retailers (national and small), interior design, manufacturing and the CFI.
Some of our notable speakers are Jon Namba (Editor’s note: Namba is the Editorial Director of Floor Trends’ sister publication, Floor Covering Installer), Christine Whittemore, Eric Astrachan, Jim Walker, Tim Provence, Lew Migliore, Robert Varden, Brian Gracon, Paul Friederichsen, Jonathan Train, Jeff Macco, Tom Jennings, Jeff Train, Sam Allman, Chris Ramey, Annette Callari, Warren Tyler, Peter Craig, Jim Dion and Lisbeth Calandrino.
FT: Beyond just the educational sessions, there seems to be a number of other “programs” available at the show. Almost like extracurricular activities. Can you expand upon each of these?
Teague:As you know, education doesn’t just take place inside of classroom walls. The International Surface Event 2014 will offer many other learning opportunities.
Here’s some of what will be taking place:
• The Trends Hub will return to Surfaces 2014 as the best place to discover the future of flooring. Attendees can hear about and preview what’s trending in products, colors and textures for 2014. This year’s theme inspiration was taken from a Curator trend—an eclectic collector trend with a museum mood.
We have also expanded the number of design sessions presented in the Trends Hub. In addition to seeing the hottest new trends, “Live in the Hub” will give attendees the opportunity to join featured designers for 15-minute presentations revealing trends and products.
• The Business Enrichment Center (BEC) was first introduced at the 2013 show and was very popular. This mega-center of activity, education and networking features an on-floor education stage with seating and free presentations, a charging station, and free Wi-Fi.
We will also continue to present social media sessions in the BEC Social Lounge, as they were very well attended last year. These are quick 15-minute hands-on demonstrations on topics such as blogging, Google analytics, Facebook, SEO, etc.
• The Event Main Stage will return with presentations and hands-on demonstrations by exhibiting companies.
• Tool Alley makes a return appearance with exhibiting companies displaying the latest in tool technology and techniques. Chris Grundy of DIY Network’s “Cool Tools” will interact with visitors to this area and will assist participating exhibitors as they demonstrate their latest tools in action.
• Our Designer Day Program sells out every year. It is a full day of design sessions, a speed trending tour of the show floor, and an off-site tour for interior designers and other professionals interested in upcoming trends in flooring and other surfaces.
• The Experience Retailer and Inspector Symposiums, presented by Textile Consultants & LGM Associates, is designed to give specialty flooring retailers and inspectors an opportunity to expand their knowledge base and learn new techniques.
• The ChromaZone Workshop, presented by Color Marketing Group, will also return. It is a results oriented color forecast event. This workshop will be of interest to interior designers and other professionals interested in color forecasting.
• Designing with Natural Stone Day, presented by Marmomacc, is being offering in 2014. It is a full day of continuing education and tours for building design professionals.
• On the StonExpo side, we feature the CAGE and StoneLIVE Stadium. From the chain-link fence surroundings to the expert led down-and-dirty demonstrations, the CAGE allows attendees to see the latest in stone fabrication.
Attendees can grab a drink and relax on the bleachers in the StoneLIVE Stadium to watch the demos via live streaming and big screens.
FT: Talk about the Surfaces Masters Certification program. What is it; what does it mean?
Teague:We launched the Masters Certification program in 2012 and it has been a huge success. The Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas Education Program, which grew 20% last year, proved to be a leading provider of top-quality education once again by awarding 336 Masters Certificates to attendees who completed more than eight hours of course work during the 2013 show.
Attendees can receive a Masters Certificate in any of the eight offered tracks. It is a way for attendees to demonstrate their commitment to continuing their education. Attendees receive a printed certificate worthy of framing, their name on the show website and a special ribbon for the following year’s show badge.
We are very proud of this growing program and are seeing it gain notoriety as one of the industry’s most important certifications.
FT: It looks like there are about a dozen pavilions throughout the three shows. Can you describe some of them; what they bring to the show, and what attendees can expect to gain?
Teague:We create pavilions to highlight product categories and to provide attendees with centralized areas where they can find the newest products and learn new ideas and techniques.
For 2014, we are featuring the following pavilions:
• Surfaces and the NWFA are once again partnering to create a hardwood flooring pavilion. Dedicated to hardwood flooring products and NWFA members, the NWFA Hardwood Flooring Pavilion and Lounge will allow for networking and browsing among new manufacturers and suppliers of innovative hardwood products.
• In the Cleaning & Restoration Pavilion, attendees can get answers to their care and maintenance questions, find the latest tools and even try new techniques for cleaning and restoring all types of flooring.
• Various mills will display sustainable New Zealand wool carpets and rugs in the Wools of New Zealand area. In this large, prominently located section, retailers can see the brilliant color and feel the softness of wool.
• The Marmomacc Pavilion features international exhibitors showcasing stone materials, machinery and products for the protection and care of stone surfaces. This pavilion will host continuing education on stone and stone design.
• Natural stone will be on display in the Stone Pavilion located adjacent to the just mentioned Marmomacc Pavilion. The Stone Pavilion provides fabricators, architects and designers a designated area focused on using natural stone in their current and future projects. Attendees can go and have an open dialog with the pavilion participants about the value and benefits of using natural stone.
• The newest product pavilion highlights laminate flooring and will educate attendees on the benefits and installation of this product category. Through a new partnership with NALFA, the NALFA Laminate Pavilion and Lounge will showcase laminate flooring, and will allow for networking and browsing among new manufacturers and suppliers of innovative laminate products.
FT: Will you be offering a recycling program again for exhibitors and their booth materials for after the show?
Teague:Being green has become the new way of exhibiting at Surfaces and StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas. We are very proud of the great accomplishment we have achieved with the help of many partners.
For the second year in 2013, we partnered with Mountain Re-Source Center, Tile Partners of Humanity, Freeman, United Services and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on a recycling initiative focused on post-show product donations.
The 82 participating exhibitors were very generous, offering thousands of square feet of material, which filled seven 53-foot semi-trailers to capacity, more than doubling the donations from the 2012 initiative.
The materials were delivered to River Valley Community Outreach Center in Gridley, Calif.; Central West Virginia Outreach Center in Gassaway, W.Va., and Las Vegas Habitat for Humanity to serve multiple families and community improvement efforts.
Additionally, the Mandalay Bay was successful in recycling a large amount of the remaining materials left in both the Bayside and Shorelines Exhibit Halls (including residual cardboard, aluminum, paper, plastics, pallets, etc.).
This program is making an impact in many lives and brings light to the many ways recycling efforts such as ours can be implemented.
FT: What about lodging? The Mandalay Bay can be pretty expensive for the average person, especially if more than one is coming from a company. Has Hanley Wood made any arrangements with hotels to offer attendees discounts?
Teague:There are nine hotel properties available in the official hotel block, offering a variety of accommodation levels and price-points.
Reduced rates are available over show dates at all official properties for as low as $31 at the Excalibur up to $295 at the Four Seasons—the newest luxury hotel in the block.
In addition, if attendees book within the block by going to surfaces.com, there are other perks available. For example, if an attendee books a 3-night stay at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino by Dec. 31, he will receive a $120 food and beverage credit to be used at the outlets on the property.
Other hotels are offering similar promotions.
Beyond just offering discounts for lodging, we have made arrangements with a number of airline and car rental companies to offer special promotions to people attending The International Surfaces Event.
FT: What about the partnership with Las Vegas Market? Is that continuing for 2014?
Teague:We are excited to announce we are extending our strategic partnership. The International Surfaces Event and the Las Vegas Market will continue to be co-dated in 2014 and2015.
The Las Vegas Market, held at the World Market Center Las Vegas campus, is an international home furnishings showcase that combines style and inspiration like no other market. Retailers and designers can shop product offerings from trendsetters in all home furnishings categories—from furniture and mattress to home décor and gift.
The Las Vegas Market features 1,000 world-class manufacturers and fresh new resources as well as educational, networking and hospitality events all week long.
Registration benefits will be available for those attendees who wish to participate in both events and complimentary shuttle service will be provided between the venues.
Surfaces and the International Surface Event will be here before you know it, so now is the time to make your plans to attend the industry’s most important market of the year. Through the surfaces.com website, Hanley Wood has made it simple and painless to register, reserve a hotel and make travel arrangements, as well as help you map out your schedule for the entire event.
The exhibit hall runs from Jan. 28 to 30, while the educational conference begins Jan. 27 and goes through Jan. 30, along with NALFA certifications taking place on the 31st.
To learn more, visit surfaces.com or call (866) 860-1975.