Final Coverings Numbers In, Sharpest Spike Ever

Chicago, IL, Wednesday May 9, 2007--Registered attendance jumped to nearly 37,000 for the four-day Coverings 2007 tile and stone exposition and conference at McCormick Place Convention Center, representing an increase of 8 percent over last year. The sharpest spike in attendance numbers was among architects and designers, which was up a dramatic 87 percent. What’s more, with almost half—49 percent—of all guests acknowledging they were first time Coverings attendees, plus an interesting shift in regional patterns that pulled in more show goers than ever before from the East North Central, Mountain and Pacific West states, there was clear evidence that Coverings exceeded its goals to expand to new audiences whose interests are in tile and stone.

“Coverings attendance has been steadily on the rise over the past four years, growing 30.3 percent in this period,” reported Tamara Christian, CEO of National Trade Productions, which manages the show. “Tile and stone are emerging as fashion statements in design. And, though housing has slowed, home improvement hasn’t, and consumers are clamoring for the types of style and individuality that these materials can create. The demand is there.”

Certainly, other of Coverings’ attendance figures confirm this, as well.

  • Retailer attendance was up 17 percent.
  • Contractor attendance was up 22 percent.
  • Stone distributor attendance was up nearly 8 percent.
  • Attendance was up 48 percent from the East North Central region; up 28 percent from the Pacific West; 22 percent, Mountain.

Buzz-builders And More…

The tremendous success of Coverings 2007 was the outcome of strategic planning that began even before the 2006 show had wrapped up. The support and sponsorship from all of the key professional associations was almost immediately engaged from the outset, and they actively promoted the show to their members. Some groups even staged board meetings onsite at Coverings as a value-added benefit to their members.

Of course, the caliber of conferences and seminar sessions orchestrated by Coverings has always scored high with all segments of the industry, and this year’s lineup was as stellar as ever, with several of the headliners addressing standing-room-only audiences. The keynote address delivered by Bernard M. Markstein, III, director of forecasting and assistant staff vice president, National Association of Home Builders, sounded cautionary about the housing slowdown, but held out a small bit of optimism for the tile industry because of the flurry of home improvement in kitchen and bath. There was a rush to see and hear acclaimed architect Richard Meier as he took the audience through a tour of his various landmark projects. And, trends forecaster Maxine Lauer packed them in, as she shed light on what is driving some of the styles that were visible on the aisles and what may be coming in ’08 and beyond.

Then there were a number of savvy regional distributors, including Miles Distributing, of South Bend, IN, and United Flooring Distributors, Rockville, IL, who not only encouraged their clients to make the trek, but organized bus caravans to get them there and make it a full-day experience. These two groups swelled the attendance figures alone by almost 1,000.

Mayor Richard M. Daley personally presided over the opening day ceremony, along with the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and other local agencies pulling out all the stops to make sure attendees felt welcome and their business appreciated. In fact, Coverings business most definitely was appreciated, representing approximately $46 million in revenues for the City of Chicago.

The final verdict, though, on whether Coverings delivered on its promise and can be termed a success, rests with the attendees.

“We’ve been coming to Coverings for the past 10 years,” said Tom Evans, owner of Zebra Tile, a retailer based in York, PA. “Most of the distributors we work with have booths at this show, so we see them and pick out our new selections for the year. For me, attending Coverings changed my business. Coming here keeps you in touch with the industry. If you stay home, that’s all the knowledge you’re ever going to get.”

Michelle Engleman and Erin Blakely, of 21st Century Tile are interior design partners and also wholesale distributors in Butler, WI. This was their first Coverings, and they both agreed they would now consider going to Orlando. They attended a LEED conference session, which they raved about. Said Engleman, “Learning about LEED and then finding an exhibitor who sells tiles that met all the criteria was very exciting. Coming here we learned what’s new, what’s out there, what we’re missing from our showroom.”

Many echoed the feelings of Bert Thomas, owner of Straightline Floor Coverings, Fishers, IN, also a freshman attendee. Even though his contractor business is only three hours away from Chicago, he was so impressed with what he saw at the show, he’s already considering going to Orlando next year. “Now that we’ve been here once,” he commented, “we would definitely think about going to Orlando.”

Next year in Orlando, Coverings is scheduled for April 29 to May 2 at the Orange County Convention Center.

Related Topics:Coverings