Gauging an inaugural event, especially a trade show, can be a difficult thing, as there is nothing to which it can be compared other than the expectations of all the parties involved—the show’s owners/promoters, exhibitors and attendees. And even then, one has to be careful as some will have unrealistic expectations based on their wants and needs as well as previous experiences with other trade shows.

So it was with the first staging of The International Surface Event East (TISE East), though in this case it seems the vast majority of people came to the event keeping their expectations tempered knowing this was a first-time show and would be nothing like its sister event in Las Vegas next month.

Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Florida, TISE East by all accounts received good feedback from exhibitors and attendees to make owners Hanley Wood Exhibitions excited for the show’s future.

“We were satisfied with the attendance at TISE East,” noted Amie Gilmore, the show’s director. “For a launch event, it was expected to be small and used as a foundation for the years to come. Our exhibitors made contacts, sold product and were able to promote their business, the audience that attended was the quality they were looking for.”

She added, “We only expect with our well-known brands that the attendance will increase in the years to come. We’re already planning for next year, taking the feedback we gained and making necessary tweaks here and there.”

Dana Teague, vice president of Hanley Wood, added, “TISE East attracted a completely new audience, compared to our sister event in Las Vegas. It translated into new business for our exhibitors. Our goal from the very beginning was to create a unique trade show experience that allowed attendees to take full advantage of educational offerings, certifications and networking, in addition to the exhibits and buying opportunities.”

Melvin Silvers, president of Engineered Floors’ Dream Weaver carpet division, was one of the exhibitors who agreed with both Gilmore and Teague. “We had a really good show; we’re very happy we decided to exhibit. We picked up a number of new accounts from the Florida region and even saw people from all along the East Coast.”

Max Woods, the company formerly known as Max Windsor, made its formal debut under its new owner Peter Spirer, who showed he hasn’t lost his flair for creating both products and an exhibit space people will flock to in order to see what is happening. Besides having models getting body painted in front of the audience, the industry Hall of Famer was showcasing new wood styles in extra large formats because “that is the only way for someone to see the true design, texture and breadth of the product. A small sample doesn’t do these unique designs and textures justice.”

For Steven Wang, owner and designer for Measure Square. “TISE East worked great for us. We had plenty of qualified leads with big operations looking for measure estimating technologies. It was a pleasant surprise to see a lot of familiar faces from our East Coast customer base.”

Anita Howard of the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), said the organization “will definitely participate [in TISE East] again. We had many opportunities to meet with new people and walked away with new members. We also were able to establish relationships with new exhibitors for our own show. Hanley Wood is a great partner, and we’re looking forward to its shows in both January and next fall, as well as having its team at our show in April in St. Louis.”

Attendees also seemed pleased with the first-year show. Keith Spano, president of Flooring America and Flooring Canada, said “Surfaces remains an important organization in the flooring industry. Surfaces East presented a great opportunity for me and other members to connect. I look forward to seeing how the conference continues to evolve over the next few years.”

Larry Lyday, president of One Stop Flooring America in Mount Vernon, Ill., noted, “Our group was excited to attend Surfaces East. It’s early for this new venue, however I thought the location and overall layout was well done. Next year, we hope to see a more diversified group of companies in the flooring business. We look forward to seeing how Surfaces East evolves next year and begins to look more like the winter market in Las Vegas.”

Kelby Frederick, co-president and owner of My Flooring Texas in Dallas, said, “Our goal was to seek out new and unique products to try to gain a market advantage before the traditional winter markets. We were hoping to see new hardwood, laminate, LVT/LVP and carpet in addition to new tile products. However, tile and stone definitely dominated the show. With that said, it was great to have the opportunity to network in the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) booth. At Surfaces Las Vegas, it’s so large and hectic that it’s difficult to find the time for networking. At the Surfaces East show, it was nice to have a neutral place to speak with other industry people.”

Gilmore concurred with Frederick, noting, “The show had a more intimate feel. You were able to really talk to the exhibitors and attendees and take more time to visit with manufacturers.”

Overall, Hanley Wood reported 185 companies exhibited in an area covering more than 50,000 square feet and that attendees came from over 50 countries, which is “a strong indicator of the industry’s need for an East Coast buying event.” Local attendance was solid, she added, with participating business owners from more than 30 cities in the surrounding Miami area.

Along with the exhibit hall, TISE East featured a strong educational program with over 50 sessions targeting to specific audiences, such as specialty retailers, architects, builders, installers, distributors and more.

There were also “Walk & Talk” sessions that incorporated tours of the TISE East show floor and utilized the exhibit hall as a classroom, allowing attendees to gain perspective from industry experts with three different areas of emphasis—Equipment & Tooling, Luxury Trendspotting Floorcovering and In Our Green Shoes: An Eco-Agenda.

Michele Nebel Peake, TISE East’s conference manager, said, “Our goal for the education program was to provide meaningful and timely educational opportunities in a variety of formats. Because TISE East was a new event, we were free to experiment with new and alternative methods of delivering education to our audience. We plan to capitalize on our successes and offer bigger and better opportunities in 2015.”

Scott Humphrey, WFCA’s CEO, called the educational part of the show “excellent. The teacher-to-student ratio allowed for more specific expertise to be applied directly to the challenges of session participants.” As for the rest of the market, he added, it was an “excellent show for WFCA. We signed new members and reconnected with existing ones. With the hectic pace we keep on a day-to-day basis, having the opportunity to actually listen to the needs of our members and potential members was priceless. For an industry that is usually resistant to change, this was a great start. I look forward to 2015.”

Teague concluded, “Overall, we are very happy with the results of TISE East. We believe a solid foundation was established for our East Coast event and we’re already planning for a bigger, better 2015 showing.”