Smart strategies to better navigate Surfaces 2022
For the first time in 15 years, the International Surface Event (Surfaces 2022) will include every major flooring manufacturer on the show floor as an exhibitor. With that being the draw, floor vendors are expected to flock to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to see the latest and greatest flooring products under one roof. FCNews spoke with several seasoned Surfaces retailers who plan to attend Surfaces 2022 to get tips for shopping strategies.
Take advantage of missed opportunities
In most years, dozens of Carpet One and Flooring America retailers would skip Surfaces assuming they got all their product needs from CCA Global’s winter convention, which usually falls within two weeks of Surfaces. However, CCA’s cancellation means some of its dealers will move to Surfaces 2022 instead.
“The cancellation of the CCA show has forced us to spend more time with vendors in Las Vegas,” said Casey Dillabaugh, president of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America, Boise, Idaho. “Despite many of the [big mills] with regional shows it is a big advantage that they are all in the same place at the same time. The return of Shaw Floors to the show this year is also a huge benefit.”
Before joining Carpet One in 1997, John Taylor of Taylor Carpet One Floor & Home in Fort Myers, Florida attended Surfaces annually. After joining the co-op, he no longer felt the need to go to Surfaces regularly. That has changed for this year. “Since the Carpet One/CCA convention was cancelled, we think the benefits will be much greater this year and the show will work a little harder than if we had attended the CCA convention,” explains Taylor.
Appointments are a must…
Visiting surfaces without scheduled appointments is a waste of time, and floor salespeople say they are too busy to waste such a precious resource. “I’ve always made arrangements with manufacturers to make sure we use our time as efficiently as possible,” said Deb DeGraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Michigan. “One thing I’ve learned when making appointments is that I now consider booth numbers and where each appointment relates to each other. After a year of racing from one end to the other and back, we have grown wiser in our schedule.”
DeGraaf said she usually sets aside a day to wander the show and check out booths and products that she doesn’t currently have in her portfolio.
… don’t include yourself though
One of the more strategic retailers when it comes to covering surfaces is Sam Roberts, owner of Roberts Carpet and Fine Floors in Houston. Roberts used to fill his diary with appointments, but finds that no longer useful. “I make an appointment for every morning when the show opens; the rest of the day is spent running the show and stopping to visit all my major suppliers,” he said. “looking at things that I don’t do business with and seem to see interesting things. People don’t run on time. That used to throw my day off and often put salespeople and other dealers in an awkward position when I arrived.”
Observe safety protocols
Retailers attending Surfaces are no strangers to attending shows during the coronavirus pandemic. The National Floorcovering Alliance (NFA) has held several meetings since the start of the pandemic, as have other groups. With the Omicron variant in general, dealers take many different approaches. One is a business-as-usual strategy.
For example, the president of Dillabaugh’s Flooring America’s said the variant “will not change how we approach the show or our interactions.” Ditto for Penny Carnino, COO, Grigsby’s Carpet, Tile and Hardwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma, who noted, “We’re not going to cover the show any other way. We always make appointments with the people we want to see. With regard to COVID-19 or variants, we do not intend to do anything else.”
In a similar vein, while acknowledging that COVID-19 is “real and should be taken seriously,” Taylor added, “thankfully, we live in a state (Florida) where we’ve been able to stay open and operate almost as if things were normal.” . We will respect the rules of the state [of Nevada] and the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Other than that, we don’t plan to do anything else.”
Some dealers are more cautious. As a retailer from Canada, which has urged its residents to avoid non-essential trips abroad, Raffi Sarmazian, president of Sarmazian Bros., Cambridge, Ontario, plans to exercise caution. “We will be careful and wear masks as often as possible,” he said. “Hopefully we don’t get the virus, otherwise we won’t be allowed to enter Canada.”