Surfaces Show Guide - January 2011

Change, it seems, is the agenda for this year’s residential retail flooring show. Hanley Wood, which owns both Surfaces and StonExpo Marmomacc, is
co-locating the shows for the first time, billing the combined show S². The shows will exist side by side, on the same show floor, but, naturally, Surfaces exhibitors are grouped together, as are StonExpo Marmomacc exhibitors.

According to Kelly Cooper of Hanley Wood, the total footprint of the S² show is approximately 350,000 square feet. Last year Surfaces was approximately 330,000 square feet. And Hanley Wood expects between 400 and 500 flooring exhibitors this year—roughly the same as last year. Some manufacturers, such as Mannington, will exhibit at locations off the show floor but within Mandalay Bay. Still others, like Faus, will locate in a different facility entirely. Educational events for the show start on January 24 and run through January 27. Exhibits open on January 25.

Since the current economy has depleted trade show attendance in general, Hanley Wood offered early bird incentives to help make it more affordable for people to attend. Through December 16, attendees could sign up for educational events free of charge. Regular price for the educational events is $99 for World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) members and $125 for non-members. Attendance to the exhibit floor was offered at a reduced rate as well; however, though the early bird special is expired, admittance is still quite affordable at $15 for WFCA members and $35 for non-members.

Founded in 1976 by Michael J. Hanley and Michael W. Wood, Hanley Wood began as a custom publisher and grew into a company that not only publishes media but also organizes exhibitions and produces market intelligence data and marketing materials. In 2000, the company acquired Surfaces from the WFCA. At its peak in 2006, the show had 40,558 attendees and 1,070 exhibiting companies. Hanley Wood operates 15 other trade shows as well, including the DeckExpo, the International Pool, Spa, Patio Expo and World of Concrete.

Another major flooring show that’s on the move is Coverings, the 22-year-old tile and stone show that has cycled annually in the spring between Chicago and Orlando. This year the show is coming earlier than ever (March 14 to 17) and it’s also moving to Las Vegas—to the Sands Expo and Convention Center, in fact, the venue Surfaces just relinquished.


The relocation of Surfaces from the Sands Expo to Mandalay Bay, at the other end of the strip, offers returning attendees the opportunity to experience a whole new side of Las Vegas. Set at the southern end of Las Vegas Boulevard, Mandalay Bay boasts a number of shopping and dining options, including restaurants by two of America's most prestigious chefs, Charlie Palmer and Wolfgang Puck.

The facility has a host of entertainment offerings in addition to its gambling floors. The Shark-Reef Aquarium is a 1.6 million gallon, predator-based aquarium that features over 2,000 animals. And Disney's The Lion King musical is presented nightly (except Mondays) in the Mandalay Bay Theater. If you're looking for nightlife, the facility boasts the Eyecandy sound lounge & bar, a high-tech version of a classic cocktail lounge; House of Blues Music Hall, whose stage has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan and B.B. King; and the stylish Mix Lounge, among others.

Of course, the southern end of the strip offers casinos shoulder-to-shoulder, so if the Mandalay Bay doesn't have what you're looking for, another resort likely will. The casino resort is flanked by Four Seasons and Luxor, while Excalibur, New York-New York, Monte Carlo, MGM Grand and Tropicana are all within walking distance. Mandalay Bay is also directly across the street from McCarran International Airport. The Surfaces show will be housed at Mandalay Bay through at least 2015.


Floor Focus is sponsoring a new feature, The Trends Hub, at this year’s show. The Trends Hub is a 1,000 square foot space on the show floor that will be filled with the hottest product introductions, furnishings and art. Exhibitors can submit products for The Trends Hub. Victoria Redshaw, owner of U.K. business development and trend forecasting company Scarlet Opus and a Surfaces speaker, is designing the space. At the show, Redshaw will present the Scarlet Opus Star Award for the most innovative product submitted to The Trends Hub.

Furnishings for The Trends Hub will be provided by Las Vegas Market, a furnishings event that is being held concurrently with Surfaces at World Market Center. Surfaces and Las Vegas Market are cross-badging and providing shuttle service between the two shows. The Las Vegas Market has an audience primarily composed of interior designers, while the bulk (40%) of the Surfaces’ audience is retailers. Collaboration between the shows will give both events exposure to expanded audiences. 


If you're hoping to explore the entire Strip during your time in Las Vegas, the monorail is a convenient means of travel. The train begins--at its southernmost point--at the MGM Grand, then parallels the Strip as far as Harrah's, doglegs down to Paradise Road for the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Hilton, and angles back to the Strip, terminating at the Sahara. The trains run late into the night: until 2:00 a.m. on weekdays and until 3:00 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Monorail rides are $5.00 per trip. A one-day pass can be purchased for $12.00; a three-day pass is available for $28.00. Tickets can be purchased online or at any of the seven monorail stations throughout the city. Stations are located at MGM Grand; Bally's/Paris Las Vegas; Flamingo/Caesar's Palace; Las Vegas Convention Center; Las Vegas Hilton; and Sahara. Trains arrive every four to 12 minutes.

There is a smaller monorail that shuttles between Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur. The train operates 24 hours a day and is free. It's worth using if you're heading for the monorail at MGM Grand, which is only a short walk from Excalibur.

Eighty-five percent of Surfaces attendees report that the introduction of new products is why they attend the show, according to Hanley Woods’ Cooper. Surfaces’ Product Showcase, introduced in 2008, is designed to offer attendees insight into what’s new. Product Showcase will again be a part of the 2011 show, albeit in a new form. This year, there will be Product Showcase displays in the lobby, and signage at exhibitor booths will denote new introductions across the show floor.

On the first floor of the show, the S² Main Stage will offer ongoing education events and hands-on demonstrations during Surfaces. Main Stage topics will include installation, business, design and current trends.

Surfaces offers attendees many opportunities to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and Learning Units. The America Institute of Building Design, the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration, the Interior Design Continuing Education Council and the National Kitchen and Bath Association will all offer approved courses at Surfaces. Cooper notes that, on average, attendees take two educational classes at Surfaces. However, with all the educational events available, there is the possibility to get almost half of CEUs completed at the show. Throughout the history of Surfaces, most educational classes lasted three hours; however, in 2009, the show began offering one-and-a-half hour classes as well, so that attendees had the opportunity to spend more time on the show floor.

Surfaces assembles a panel of industry leaders to decide what educational events to offer. The panel represents different segments of the flooring industry, including small retailers, larger retailers, the media and the design community. Each year, Surfaces conducts a call for papers, requesting topics for consideration. The committee then works through these submissions and decides what subjects will be most timely and useful for Surfaces’ attendees. 

Designer Day, another event sponsored by Floor Focus, will take place on Wednesday, January 26. As of early December, Designer Day events, which cost $40 and include lunch, were already sold out. Surfaces is considering adding an additional tour to the day’s line-up based on attendee interest.

Currently, there are five Designer Day events on the books, beginning with Annette Callari’s talk, “Increasing Sales through the Psychology of Color,” at 8:00 a.m. Callari serves as the sales and marketing specialist and special projects designer for Leonard’s Services & Design Centers in southern California. In her talk, Callari seeks to equip listeners with the ability to use color as a selling tool. 

At 10:00 a.m., Redshaw of the Scarlet Opus will lead participants on a Speed Tour of the Surfaces show floor. Redshaw’s tour will highlight the show’s newest products and concepts and will conclude with a recap of the year’s directional trends. 

Redshaw serves as the lead trend forecaster and managing director at the Scarlet Opus. She is also the industry specialist lecturer of trend forecasting at The University of Huddersfield, where she tutors final year students of design.

Stephanie Vierra, president and owner of Vierra Design and Education Services, will present a talk entitled “Whole Building Design” at the Lunch & Learn session, which begins at noon. Vierra Design and Education Services offers educational programs on sustainability and holistic building design. Vierra served as the first woman executive director of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and as director of practice research at The American Institute of Architects.

Vierra’s talk will define the Whole Building Design movement and the resources to support this approach, along with an introduction to the concepts of Whole Building Design with a particular focus on the integrated design and team process. The talk will also include a sample case study to demonstrate the benefits and positive outcome of an integrated process.

At 1:30, Paul Berry, vice president of hotel operations for ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter, will lead a tour of the ARIA in which he will discuss the artistic vision, material selections and creative process of building the facility. Berry has held numerous management and executive level positions, including vice president of hotel operations, vice president of guest services and director of guest services for Bellagio. He was also instrumental in opening The Mirage in 1989, Treasure Island in 1993, Bellagio in 1998 and Bellagio’s Spa Tower expansion in 2004.

Mark Woodman will lead the last event of the day; his talk, “Trends and Directions: Kitchen and Bath,” starts at 4:00 p.m. Woodman will discuss how kitchen and bath aesthetics are extending to other rooms, influencing design, materials, finishes and colors. Owner of Mark Woodman Design & Color, a consulting firm, Woodman has a range of design experience, from creating private residences to selecting the color palettes for communities, including regional and historical collections.

Of course, there are numerous educational events relating to subjects other than design; these range from flooring installation to business, sales, marketing and trends. Floor Focus contributor James Dion will present two courses at the show. On Monday, he will give a talk entitled “Big Box Retailers: Use Their Strategies to Beat Them at Their Own Game!” at 9:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. that day he is presenting “Preparing for the Future—The Customer Today and Tomorrow.”

Lew Migliore, president of LGM and Associates, will present “New Green Floor Covering Backings and Installation Technology” on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m.. And at 4:00 p.m., Damien Patton of will offer “How to Turn Web Traffic into Customers.”

Wednesday brings an array of female speakers including Beaulieu’s VP of marketing Patricia Flavin at noon on “Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer: Women,” and Floor Focus contributor Lisbeth Calandrino presenting “Red Hot Customer Service” at 1:00 p.m. 

On Thursday, Calandrino will encore with “Have Sales Stopped Driving Your Business?” at 8:00 a.m. And Jim Walker of Certified Floorcovering Installers Association presents “Identify and Solve Problems in Carpet Installations” at the same time. 

In total, there are close to 50 flooring-oriented educational events offered over the four days of the show. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register for educational events.

Headline speaker Aron Ralston, author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place, will present “Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Overcoming Adversity” at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday in the Mandalay Bay Ballroom H. 


Janice Clifton, owner of Abbey Carpets Unlimited of Napa Valley, California, and Tom Levi, owner of Levi's 4 Floors, are long-time Surfaces attendees. And both of them agree that new product introductions are among the most significant advantages of the show. Clifton says, "I get to see products that I wouldn't see otherwise--especially in the tile department."

Levi notes that, "The show is great because it gives start-ups an opportunity." Surfaces offers new manufacturers a great chance for exposure to a significant number of buyers--both larger retailers and mom-and-pop flooring stores--an opportunity that they might not have at any other point throughout the year. Levi also appreciates the breadth of manufacturers that exhibit, especially on the hard surface side.

Joe Montemagni, CEO of Baystate Rug in Chicopee, Massachusetts, values the opportunity for exposure to new hard surface product lines as well. He also believes that Surfaces will provide him with the opportunity to meet some needs specific to his business. He is looking for a software system for commercial blueprints, and, additionally, he is seeking other dealers who may be interested in partnering with him on a series of television commercials. The Surfaces show gives Montemagni the chance to address all these needs in one place.

Educational programs are an attraction for these retailers as well. Notes Clifton, "The best subjects right now are those that help us all survive the current economy." Clifton generally attends a couple of education seminars each show.

Regarding educational opportunities, Montemagni adds, "The show has something for everything."

Lastly, Clifton appreciates that the exhibitor displays help her generate new ideas for her own showroom. "There are a lot of great displays. The manufacturers that participate put in a great deal of effort. I look at how they are displaying and take the ideas back to my showroom. It only takes one or two good ideas to be worth the time."

Copyright 2011 Floor Focus