Industry reconnects with vigor in Las Vegas
Las Vegas—“The show is back,” declared Dana Hicks, TISE show director. The “show,” of course, was Surfaces 2022 —the first fully vested flooring convention since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Surfaces 2021 took place, it was held in June and lacked the attendance and exhibitor support of typical shows.
The Surfaces 2022 event, meanwhile, featured all the major players as well as top-tier flooring retailers. “From an effort standpoint, I’d give the show a 10,” Hicks told FCNews† “I give it a high score because everyone worked so hard. Exhibitors worked hard to make sure to get freight here. The attendees who were here wanted to be here. You are not traveling right now unless you are serious about your business.”
Hicks joined many retailers in lauding the presence of Shaw Industries—and its key brands—with putting a wrap of the grand event. “The return of Shaw Floors is a big plus for the industry,” Hicks said, adding, “they have already re-upped for next year and want a bigger presence.” Nina LoCiero, vice president of marketing and digital commerce for Shaw’s residential division, commented that the Shaw space was an ideal example of how “we have reimagined product selection online and in store, with storytelling integrated into the experience. Everything was created as a way to illustrate how we are actively driving and delivering highly qualified leads to our retailers.”
Informa Exhibitions, the event organizer, tweaked the Surfaces 2022 show hours this year, with Tuesday and Wednesday ending at 4 pm and Thursday at 2 pm Exhibitors were allowed to stay longer at their booths on Tuesday and Wednesday to hold events if they chose, Hicks said. “We received very positive feedback without soliciting for it in terms of the show hours. The earlier ending time gives people a break and allowed for post-show events.”
What Surfaces 2022 may have lacked in overall attendance compared with pre-COVID-19 shows, it more than made up for in quality attendees, including retailers. The cancellation of the CCA Global winter convention resulted in more retailers attending Surfaces this year. “I had forgotten just how huge the show is,” said Cathy Buchanan, president of Independent Carpet One Floor & Home, Westland, Mich. “It was great to see so many Carpet One members in atten- dance and I was grateful to both Shaw and Mohawk for hosting our private events for those who made the trip.”
Other retailers who regularly attend Surfaces gave the show high marks. “Most importantly, it was great to be able to get together as an industry again,” said Sam O’Krent, president of O’Krent Floors, San Antonio. “Even though the attendance wasn’t at 2020 numbers, the people who did attend were serious and interested in improving their businesses.”
Sam Roberts, president of Roberts Carpet and Fine Floors in Houston said he was delighted to see such heavy participation from the industry’s largest vendors. “Having Shaw, Mohawk and others back on the show floor was certainly great for Surfaces and for the dealers in attendance. For the first time in some years almost all of the most important manufacturers were represented on the show floor.”
Judy Rosas, Sergio Rosas Flooring, Valencia, Calif., told FCNews she was excited to make new connections and reinvigorate old ones at the show. “I am new to the flooring business. I went to Surfaces with the idea that I would meet more men and that my husband would make more contacts. The best part was that I met more contacts and women in this industry. The Women’s Leadership Conference was the highlight. I refreshed my skills and regained confidence that I can succeed in this business. I have a huge bandwidth of resources, too. I also met new flooring manufacturers and reconnected with vendors that we currently work with.”
Of course, Surfaces is ultimately about new product introductions and innovation, and Surfaces 2022 offered plenty of that.
With carpet now a room-by-room purchase as opposed to whole house, higher-end products are dominating the landscape as consumers willingly spend for luxurious products for their bedrooms that look great and are durable.
At Surfaces 2022, products featuring 100% New Zealand wool were in high demand as several mills showcased new offerings with the high-end fiber. Wool fits into the burgeoning decorative segment that is defined by patterns and colors. Stanton is the recognized leader in decorative; however, The Dixie Group is making a big push with the likes of its 1866 by Masland and Décor by Fabrica brands.
When it comes to the resilient category, it was clear that it’s no longer about getting products to market first in an effort to be seen in a crowded category. This year’s suppliers rolled out high-tech, style-focused products that each captivated attendees on their own distinct merit.
Surfaces 2022 saw the additional of several heavy hitters in the resilient category to the show floor. Cali Floors, for example, held its inaugural exhibit at the show. The company pulled out all the stops, exhibiting products across categories—from its growing vinyl portfolio all the way to outdoor flooring options, including decking, rugs and turf.
Shaw Industries made a big splash in its return to the show, putting the spotlight on four brands—including Shaw Floors—together under one umbrella. In SPC, Shaw’s Floorté brand unveiled its Paragon Plus Natural Bevel— SPC planks featuring an innovative bevel and natural color lines.
Armstrong also returned the show after being “gone for too many years,” Michel Vermette, president and CEO, told FCNews† “This is a big coming out for us, residentially,” he said.
In terms of product, style and design as well as technology took center stage. For example, Mohawk showcased its RealPlank Technology—its innovative realism technology system that helps achieve the most authentic look and feel in LVT. Lions Floor, a fairly new entrant to the SPC field, broadened its offering with 36 new SKUs. And Karndean showed off its innovative chevron pattern, which drew many visitors to the booth.
More of a resurgence than a comeback. That’s how suppliers described the rising interest in the laminate flooring category in the US over the past two years, culminating in a strong showing of both existing laminate suppliers as well as new entrants to the field. Industry observers say it’s partly due to supply chain issues—retailers are looking to domestically made products in light of shipping delays related to imports of SPC, LVP and the like.
Another factor contributing to the category’s growth is the level of innovation being applied to boost the product’s water-resistant performance as well as its visual realism.
Some standout products at the show include Mohawk’s RevWood Premier, which utilizes high-tech Signature Imprint technology; additions to Mannington’s storied Restoration collection; the high-performing, realistic looking SKUs found in Lamdura from Inhaus; as well as new products from The Dixie Group (Tymbr) and Engineered Floors’s Dream Weaver brand (TimberStep).
Introductions across the hardwood flooring spectrum continued to focus on wider/longer planks in visuals, colors and stains that consumers crave today. There was also a strong emphasis on pattern, with many vendors showcasing herringbone products. The latest introductions also played on various surface finishing techniques, including cerusing, wirebrushing and intricate multi-step stain treatments.
Suppliers are looking to raise the ante in terms of product performance, durability and resistance to moisture. Standout launches include TimberPlus from Mannington; Dogwood from Bruce; UltraWood from Mohawk; and Joinery from Shaw.
While Surfaces was not overrun with tile suppliers, there were of it like they are shopping in a catalog and getting their inspiration from us—not just here are new products and new displays.”
Emser Tile also came to the show with a new strategy. The company showcased its tile collections via inspirational trend walls that ran the gamut from Nordic to Authentic Materials to Biophilia, Artistry and Modern Industrial. “This year we focused on the trends and showcasing the products that fit within those trends,” explained Kathy Greene, director of brand strategy and communications.