(L to R) Jon Namba, Karen Mason and Gerald Sloan answer questions from audience members during the panel discussion on Common Causes of Post-Installation Failures.

Surfaces 2008, the floor covering industry’s leading tradeshow, was held in Las Vegas January 30-February 1, offering installers a chance to see the latest product introductions for all types of flooring as well as installation tools and accessories. The show also offered numerous educational opportunities, with numerous installation seminars and product demonstrations throughout the three-day event.

For installers, the high point of the event was the Installation Showcase, a series of hands-on seminars from some of the floor covering installation industry’s leading experts, including: Jim Walker, CEO of the International Certified Floor Covering Installers (CFI), who covered “Correcting Everyday Mistakes”; Floor Covering Installer columnist Jon Namba, technical director of CFI, presented “Name That Tool”, an introductory course on installation tools; and FCI columnist Dave Gobis, technical director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), offered “Tips for Working with Glass and Metal Tiles.”  The Installation Showcase was sponsored by American Express and co-sponsored by The World Floor Covering Association, International Certified Floor Covering Installers Association,National Floor Trendsmagazine andFloor Covering Installermagazine.

The Installation Showcase saw increased traffic this year, from installers as well as contractors, distributors and retailers. The response from participants and audiences was very positive, and shows the growing importance placed upon proper installation techniques.

“It seems that every year I am seeing more installers attending Surfaces,” said Jon Namba. “Many retailers and installers are noticing a slow down in business, but those that attend Surfaces realize that knowledge is power, and by attending Surfaces and the educational conference, they have the opportunity to see what’s new for the upcoming year and can network with their peers to see how they can improve their business,” Namba added.

“The dealers, contractors and installers who attended the Installation Showcase were definitely at the show to gather ideas that will help in increasing their income for the year,” said Jim Walker, CEO of the Certified Flooring Installers (CFI), who conducted an installation seminar on carpet repairs which saw him reprising his now famous $100 challenge to any installer who can locate one of his seams. Walker was happy with the turnout for this year’s Installation Showcase, as well as traffic on the show floor.

“We received many questions about techniques and tools,” Walker said. “The Installation Showcase is well attended each year. At the CFI Booth, the traffic was great. We scheduled 32 events and will return calls to 300 or more interested persons concerning training. For CFI, it was a great show this year because the emphasis appears to be on training, which always returns huge benefits for everyone.”

Capping off a week full of installation-related events, on Friday, February 1, John Moore, editor ofFloor Covering Installer, led a panel discussion on Common Causes of Post-Installation Failures. Panelists included FCI columnist and CFI technical director Jon Namba; Gerald Sloan, technical director of the National Tile Contractors Association; and Karen Mason of Mason Contracting, Inc. During the 1 1/2hour event, installers from across the nation posed their toughest installation questions to the panelists, leading to spirited discussion among the group.

“It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of Surfaces 2008,” said Karen Mason of Mason Contracting, Inc. “The seminars were very diversified and very informative. I felt like Surfaces 2008 tried to expand the interest of the attendees beyond the usual manufacturers and distributors,” Mason added.