Surfaces buzz still hums weeks after event ends

By Megan Salzano—Las Vegas—It’s been three weeks since Surfaces 2022 kicked off here in a major way and attendees and exhibitors agree the energy remains palpable. From much-needed business transactions to energizing educational events and the ever-popular networking opportunities, the conversation in the industry has yet to shift from the success of the show.

“Across segments of the show and across all attendee segments, the interest and the importance of being at TISE mattered a whole lot—people were more vocal about how important the show was and how excited they were to be there,” Dana Hicks, TISE show director, told FCNews† “I think the attendance was good considering the new variant that had exploded after the holidays, and I think it supports the fact that the industry wants to be together.”

Surfaces 2022 saw 15,000 attendees make their way to Las Vegas, according to Hicks, including droves of first-time attendees who were treated to the show’s inaugural First-Time Attendee Reception, which was held Feb. 1. According to Informa, the reception will be expanded for 2023.

“It was my first-ever Surfaces and first foray into meeting so many wonderful people in this industry in a big way,” said Deb Evans, owner and principal, Buzzwords Marketing, based in New York. “As a relative ‘newbie’ to the industry, I found the depth and breadth of products and services to be astounding—it’s hard to get the scope of the industry until you see how big it really is.”

Another big hit and a first-time event for Surfaces was the Women’s Leadership Conference, which was held Monday, Jan. 31. “The conference was a big success,” Hicks told FCNews† “It’s nice to guide that ship, and the passion for it is really exciting. The reception at the end of the day was important. I think now that we have a full year ahead to plan, we can really expand that whole program. That’s something we’re definitively moving forward with next year.”

Attendees also noted the importance and value of the leadership conference—the first event of its kind in the industry—and the women and women-inspired events it drew to the show. “The work Women of the Flooring Business [group] is undertaking to move the industry forward is incredible, which includes helping to get this conference off the ground,” Evans said. “I got to meet so many amazing and inspiring women who are up to great things.”

The Women’s Leadership Conference was a hit among attendees at TISE 2022.

For Connie Snyder, territory manager/sales representative, PG Long Floor Covering, the show also helped create valuable female connections. “This was my first year at Surfaces and I felt really honored that my company chose me to attend with them,” she said. “Currently, I am the only female rep with our company. I was able to join the Women in Leadership Power to Inspire events for a short time Wednesday morning, and I knew this was most definitely the inspiration I was looking for within the flooring business. Very happy to have found this group.”

Kyle Hedin, owner, Illustrious Hardwoods, Mesa, Ariz., also took note of the impact women made at the show—and continue to make in the industry overall. “I saw women hit the stage in a big way, and more than just what Women of the Flooring Business [did there]† crystal sims, [the first female finalist,] made a huge splash at the installation competition, and her family and friends helped push her presence there even further.”

Hedin added that Surfaces has always been more than just a place to find new product, it’s a forum to connect with other industry members in a meaningful way. “Connections have been made in many facets of the industry at this past show that I believe will have lasting effects on this industry,” he told FCNews† “As an installer who now has a small flooring shop, seeing the products is great but it is not my draw. I love going and connecting with people. I like seeing what kind of tech is being used. I want to find ways to connect installers and retailers and manufacturers. The reason I attend is to build relationships. Those are more valuable than any product presented to me.”

Ken Ballin, owner, Skyro Floors, West Creek, NJ, agreed, adding, “It was a smaller show than previous years but the same great people. The installation competition and the after-hours networking made it entirely worth the trip. It was awesome seeing everyone together again!”

Deb DeGraaf, co-owner of DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich., simply said: “It was a great week. It felt almost back to normal—busy and in person!”

Exhibitor experiences

Mohawk’s Adam Ward shows off the new Pergo Extreme looks.

Attendees weren’t the only ones pleased with Surfaces. Exhibitors lauded the event and Informa specifically for moving forward despite obvious challenges. At the end of the day, for many, it was about the quality of attendees who showed up.

“I think the show has been great,” Amber Leigh Martinson, senior director of marketing, Dal-Tile Corp., told FCNews during the event. “It exceeded our expectations. We’re thrilled. It’s really good to see people in person again. I think this industry is built on the relationships and having that face-to-face time and encouraging those relationship is very important.”

Jenne Ross, Karndean Designflooring, noted the energy on the show floor during the event. “I really love walking the show and seeing so many people back here,” she said. “And there are so many innovations to see again. It warms my heart to even walk by the WFCA booth, where people are doing peer-to-peer discussions and see dealers share their ideas with one another—that is so important. And I’ve personally been busy for two days. It’s wonderful.”

Steve Sieracki, senior vice president of residential sales, Shaw Industries, pointed to the return of the Shaw Floors brand to the show floor and the impact the event has on business. “The traffic has been very consistent and what we’re able to communicate with our customers is also very consistent. When they walk into the space, they are empowered to see all of Shaw and the power of all four brands. We’ve been here with our A/T, COREtec story but they’re happy to see Shaw Floors. We can’t show this in a showroom—you can’t replicate this when you’re trying to carry samples into a showroom. The fact that they’re able to work from area to area to area and see the story, hear the story and feel the story makes a huge difference. Surfaces is an impactful event.”

For Mohawk, the powerhouse event was a reminder that the industry is ready to get back to business as well as much-needed, one-on-one interactions. “I think what’s really nice is nobody really knew how many customers were really going to show up, so I think while it’s not what it was in 2018 or 2019, it’s pretty dang close,” said Adam Ward, vice president, resilient. “I think we’ve got to get on with it. We’ve got a strong market right now. It’s been really two years since we’ve got to do focused introductions for the whole industry. And I think Surfaces starts the year off right in saying this is us getting back to normal.”

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