The International Surface Event (TISE) was held in its familiar home of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, but with the 350,000 square-foot expansion of the convention center TISE for the first time showcased the industry’s latest products all on one floor.

To tackle the expansive show floor, appointments and everything else in between, retailer David Arita, president of American Carpet One in Honolulu, brought a team of five employees to Surfaces to see what is trending in the industry and reconnect with industry partners along the way.

“We come to Surfaces every year, and we always stay until the very end. We never have enough time to visit all the vendors we want to see.”

For Arita, attending the show is a fun opportunity to meet with the suppliers he enjoys doing business with—some for over 40 years. A World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) Gold Standard Award recipient for excellence in retailing, Arita and the American Carpet One staff know first-hand the importance of offering a wide variety of products to meet consumers’ demands and needs.

“We are always looking for new products, including new products from our present manufacturers and maybe finding new suppliers and manufacturers to work with,” said Arita.

Seeing new trends is also what brings Barbara Lofton, owner of RemodelMe Showroom & Cabinet Design in Martinex, Calif., back to the show year after year. According to Lofton, events during Design & Construction Week including Surfaces are the ideal place to find products that “do everything from the foundation to the rooftop.”

In addition to TISE veterans, this year’s show welcomed many first-time attendees, as well as some who had taken a hiatus.

“I haven’t been to Surfaces in years,” admitted Shelly Versteeg-Smit of Fishtrap Creek Interiors in Lynden, Wash. For Versteeg-Smit, her absence from the show, like many others, was due greatly to 2008’s economic crisis, which slowed down business for several industries.

But as the economy continues on a steady uphill climb, service providers are once again in demand and design industry professionals like Versteeg-Smit are eager to hit the ground running and get back to business as usual. “Now it’s time to get back with it, and see what’s happening in the industry for the store,” she said.

Accompanying Versteeg-Smit was interior designer and first-time attendee Kathy Jansen, also from Lynden, Wash. For Jansen, attending Surfaces provided the opportunity to see what’s trending in the industry. However, she wished there were more tile and stone products on display.

Be it vinyl, tile or stone, innovation was not lacking at booths as manufacturers showcased their products in eye-catching, elaborate ways. From aerial acrobatics and string quartets, to a Great Dane and a magician, manufacturers pulled out all the stops to display their products in unforgettable ways befitting of the Vegas location.

“The booths present an image of the manufacturer/brand,” stated Lena Thomas of Corona Hardwood in Corona, Calif. “At this show, one really sees who is a player in this industry. Branding and image are very important.”

A regular attendee, Thomas and her team enjoy attending Surfaces to connect with manufacturers and distributors outside of an everyday setting—and to make sure Corona is on the right track with the products it carries.

“Seeing new products laid out in the booths and the excitement the booths create gives us confidence about the products we carry,” she said.

There was no shortage of buzz and excitement at this year’s show; excitement about what’s happening in the industry and excitement about what’s to come.

For more information on TISE 2016, visit

Retailers Sit Down with Mohawk and Google

Making its return to Surfaces this year with a lavish multi-booth party, Mohawk Industries’ presence was felt both on and off the show floor.

Teaming with FloorForce, a digital agency for the flooring industry, Mohawk hosted a Lunch and Learn with Google’s Ben Tyson.

“The reality is, I don’t know anyone that’s bored, sitting at home on the weekends looking at tire websites because they don’t need tires,” said Tom Lape, president of Mohawk’s residential division. “It’s the same thing for flooring—there are not a lot of people out there that are looking at flooring websites that don’t need flooring.”

In fact, every month, Google counts 90 million searches for the word “flooring” according to Tyson, head of sales enablement at Google.

During the hour-long presentation, Tyson educated retailers about the imperativeness of digital marketing and the role it plays in capturing customers online.

“The point of marketing is to create engaging content that moves someone to an action,” he said. “Engage, engage, engage.”

From social media to search engine optimization, Tyson stressed the importance of hiring a knowledgeable team of digital marketing professionals to create engaging web content and to strengthen the web presence of retail operations.

“The days of ‘I got a guy that handles this’ are over,” said Tyson. “The days of ‘my brother’s son’s best friend’s college roommate takes care of this’ are done as well.”

Retailers Robin Whipple and Tim Hyland of Cash N Carry Flooring in Traverse City, Mich., hired a marketing firm to handle their digital and social media marketing efforts, and they haven’t looked back.

“We changed our entire website,” said Hyland. “It took about three months, but we are right back on top again.”

Although there is always room for continued growth and improvement, the Lunch and Learn was confirmation for Whipple that Cash N Carry is heading in the right direction when it comes to digital marketing.