Once again, Coverings attracted design enthusiasts—from flooring retailers and installers to interior designers and everyone in between—for three days of tile education, product demonstrations and show-stopping displays.
North America’s largest tile and stone exhibition made its return to Orlando, Fla., with a new logo and creative campaign—not to mention a huge array of the latest products, services and programs offered in the category.
According to show officials, more than 25,000 industry professionals attended the event, and attendance generated a 10% increase over last year’s show in Las Vegas and a 12% increase from 2012, the last year Coverings was held in Orlando.
“The strong attendance at this year’s Coverings is a valid indicator of growth in the tile and stone industry—overall, this was our largest show since 2008,” said Karin Fendrich, Coverings’ show director.
In addition to attendee growth, Coverings experienced a surge in the number of exhibitors showcasing innovative new products. In total, the event hosted 1,094 exhibitors from 41 countries, representing a 12% growth from 2014.
Designers from near and far were present to see the latest in tile design first-hand. For Désirée Ammam, making the trip to Coverings from Honduras was well worth the distance and wait. Ammam and her team are currently in the process of building an event and convention center in Honduras, and the team’s designers put production on hold to visit Coverings in search of eye-catching tile designs for the center’s floors and accent pieces for its walls.
“We found out about this [show] and we waited with our orders,” she said. Once completed by the end of the year, Ammam noted the center—which is being added to a hotel—will be the largest of its kind in Honduras. “It will be the biggest one. For Honduras, there’s nothing like it.”
For interior designers Jeannine Rohtla and Susan Bardin of Peacock + Lewis Architects and Planners, in North Palm Beach, Fla., a two-hour drive and day trip was just enough time to visit the show in search of new and revitalized trends.
“The textures we are seeing are unbelievable,” said Rohtla. “We just came out of [the Petra Antiqua] booth and everything looked like jewelry. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Something we haven’t seen anywhere.”
Something they haven’t seen is exactly what the two were looking for at the show. “Some booths are standing out and are totally different than everything else,” said Rohtla. “That’s what we’re here to see. We want to bring our clients the newest, latest and greatest that doesn’t currently exist in our area.”
Bardin also welcomed the revitalization of popular wood looks on display at the show. “We have seen a lot of the wood-looking tiles in new and different ways here. I’m personally getting tired of the wood look, but there’s always an application for it and the clients still want it. So, it’s nice to see new versions, textures and colors [at the show].”
Coverings was just a stone’s throw away for Orlando-based interior designer, Martica White of L2 Studios. A first-time attendee, White visited the show in search of inspiration and information.
“I’m here to see what inspires me; to take pictures and to get information for my library,” she said.
Retailers visiting the show had extra pep in their steps; all reporting that business is doing well this year.
“The last four or five years have been pretty rough for the entire building industry,” said Jennifer Neil of Tile Sensations in Knoxville, Tenn. “But now, all of a sudden, people are ready to spend money.”
A Coverings veteran, Neil attends the show almost annually to not only see what’s new in the market, but to maintain relationships within the industry.
“The relationships are really important,” she said. “So, even if I don’t see something new, I think it’s important to be in touch with the people I buy from and other industry people that I don’t have any other chance to see.”
Neil uses social media platforms to stay connected with fellow industry professionals and customers. “Because of the Internet and social media, you can have customers anywhere—doesn’t really matter where your showroom is anymore.”
Thanks to Coverings’ Social Media Lounge, Neil’s cyber connection went uninterrupted during the show. The lounge not only allowed her to recharge her mobile device, but to socialize and network with colleagues.
“I’m a big Twitter person,” she added. “We actually do ‘tweet-ups’ here at the show in the Social Media Lounge.”
Unlike Neil, retailer Jessica Cheek of Savannah Surfaces in Hardeeville, S.C., was a first–time Coverings attendee, visiting the show in hopes of learning what’s new in the market, and what’s exiting stage left.
“[Coverings] keeps you abreast of everything that’s new and on the forefront, but it also lets you see what’s on its way out,” she said.
For Cheek—who mainly works with high-end residential customers in the popular Hilton Head, N.C., vacation area, and historic Savannah, Ga.—knowing what designs are trending is critical to keeping her high-end business growing, and her clientele satisfied.
“We work on a lot of second homes and vacation homes,” she said. “Business is definitely picking up. The economy is coming back; people are building again and have expendable incomes.”
Coverings merged all sides of the tile industry, which made it the ideal show for husband and wife duo Melanie and Adam Gould.
For Melanie, a newcomer to the industry, some would say she has perfect timing. “I’ve only been in business for less than a year, and business is very good.”
As Melanie continues to build her portfolio and industry network, she turned to Coverings to uncover new products, and to learn more about the products her clients want.
“Since I am a new business, I only have so many vendors. So, to be able to find new products that I can present to customers will be really nice. I have already picked up five new vendors that I’m really excited about.”
Her husband, Adam, a contractor and owner of American Custom Tile & Design, in Nashville, Tenn., reported Coverings met his expectations—highlighting the best materials and options for a variety of tile installations with demonstrations and education sessions.
Even with nearly 30 years of flooring installation under his belt, Anthony Deserio of Interior Remodeling in Parlin, N.J., frequented the live demos offered at Coverings to learn new ways to work with large format and longer tiles.
“They can be very difficult to work with,” he said. “That’s why I came—to see new techniques and tips.”
Artie Atkin of Schoch Tile and Carpet in Cincinnati, hoped the educational opportunities at Coverings will help spark interest in the industry, and keep those that are in it encouraged.
“Education is very important, especially in this industry,” he said. “You don’t see many people getting into the trade anymore because of the economy, but hopefully there’s some interest and people can train [here] and get certified.”
Atkin, who has had 14 of his installers complete the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s (CTEF) certified tile installer program, praised the program and its instructor. “Scott Carothers does a heck of a job.”
According to installer Rafael Lopez, earning the Advanced Certification for Tile Installers (ACT) for large format tile will set him apart in the industry. “Advanced certification is important because the market is looking for people who know what they are doing.”
Coverings organizers are preparing for next year’s show, which will take place at McCormick Place in Chicago, April 18 to 21—promising more education, information and demonstration of all things tile. At press time, officials announced the show, which was originally scheduled to occupy McCormick’s South Hall will now take up both the South and North halls.