The International Surface Event, held recently in Las Vegas, sets a hopeful tone for the year. The show – which this year included not only Surfaces and StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas, but the addition of TileExpo as well – grew 7 percent in attendance over last year. While some of that can be attributed to adding a new tile show to the already expansive venue at Mandalay Bay Convention Center, it doesn’t change the fact that the trade show has grown almost 10 percent in one year.

Seeing those numbers is one thing, but being part of the show floor is quite another. In a word, it was busy. I had to fight my way through many crowds to get to some of my booth appointments, and once I made it to the booth, more than once I had to wait several minutes for the people manning the exhibits to finish with their current customers before they could see me. If you didn’t make it to Surfaces this year, there are still plenty of other opportunities to increase your product knowledge and installation know-how. Aside from Coverings and the regional International Surface Event East later this year, upcoming conventions from industry trade groups offer ample opportunities to talk shop with your peers and better your skills and understanding. Really, there are almost endless training and educational opportunities out there for installers who want to know the latest techniques and methods, so take advantage of them.

FCIInstallation Awards News

In the last issue I gave a little teaser about our new Installation Awards. In short, you can submit your favorite installation projects in a range of categories, from soft to hard surface, in both residential and commercial settings. You can find out the details at

We are very excited about this new awards program and being able to highlight some of the best and most creative installations from our readers. We are also excited to report that the awards now have a sponsor.

At press time, ProKnee has not only agreed to sponsor the awards, but will generously award one pair of ProKnee kneepads to each of the first-place winners in all 10 categories. Additionally, ProKnee noted “we would be willing to give all participants a 25 percent discount on any purchases prior to cut off” of the contest (which is in mid-April).

This type of generosity reminds me why I love being part of this industry. Meeting with you guys at trade shows and regional events always leaves me impressed by your knowledge, your friendliness and your down-to-earth nature. I’m looking forward to seeing you around the show floors soon.