With the addition of TileExpo, the International Surface Event – which included Surfaces, StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas and the new tile show – saw a 7 percent increase in attendance over the 2013 meeting. A total of 706 exhibitors from 90 countries showcased their latest products and services for three days recently on the two-level, 350,000 square-foot show floor at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Again and again, the staffs of Floor Covering Installer, Floor Trends and Tile Magazine heard positive impressions from exhibitors both about the turnout and the mood of attendees. Many said it was one of the best shows they had attended in recent memory, with customers lining up at their booths and plenty of new contacts made.

FCI sponsored or co-sponsored several events at Surfaces. In cooperation with Floor Trends, Tile and other BNP Media brands, FCI was part of the New Product Marketplace, which showcased some of the newest products in both floor covering design and flooring installation. FCI also sponsored Tool Alley, an area of the show floor dedicated to the latest tools and installation products. Additionally, the magazine helped sponsor two certification events with happy hours for installer members at both the International Certified Floorcovering Installers (CFI) certification for ceramic, laminate and wood flooring, and the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) exhibit for its Certified Tile Installer (CTI) and the industry-wide Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program.

CFI CEO Jim Walker said he was grateful for all the support given to his organization by the World Floor Covering Association and show organizers Hanley Wood. “I have to give a lot of credit to WFCA. I have heard all of my life that retailers like to beat up on installers, but I can’t say thank you enough to WFCA for all they have done for us. And ever since Hanley Wood has taken over Surfaces, they have put a lot of emphasis not just on floor coverings, but how to put these products in. I’m as excited now about installation as I was 20 years ago.”

 He added that he sees the need for skilled installers only increasing. “When the economy went bad, a lot of installers got out of the business. Now there’s a real lack of qualified installers out there. Retailers are looking for installers. Large workrooms are looking for installers. Everyone is scrambling to get good installers with the accountability that comes from a lot of experience.”

According to Scott Carothers, CTEF director of certification and training, both the CTI and ACT programs were proceeding smoothly at the show. “We have three union and three non-union members testing side by side. It’s been a great experience, with good traffic for this certification that tests skills, knowledge and abilities.”

He said the CTI certification requires installers to first take a written test before they can proceed to hands-on testing. “The written test is taken first so it enforces what they know, so they can be up to speed on the current best practices. Then they move on to the hands-on portion.” To move on to ACT certification, installers must first either complete a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program or be CTI certified.

Exhibitors weigh in. According to Base King’s Chris Skaare, office manager, Surfaces was an ideal venue for the company to show its EnviroStix pre-applied adhesive system as well as its new EnviroHealth 100 percent PVC-Free resilient tile, plank and sheet products. “Surfaces is one of the leading flooring shows in the world today, and we get a lot of exposure by coming here.”

Dennis Schlisner, Base King president, added, “EnviroHealth is specialized for the healthcare industry, is 100 percent recyclable and made in Dalton, Ga.”

Chris Eichman, Bostik marketing communications manager, said the show is valuable for his company. “Just the name Surfaces says it all – it covers everything in flooring. There are a large percentage of dealers and contractors at this show, and they’re here to make more money.”

Along with officially launching its new brand identity with the gecko logo, Bostik launched a wide array of new adhesives, grouts and mortars including Ultra Set SingleStep2, GreenForce,  Glass-Mate, PowerElastic and LVT-Lock. “We’ve upgraded our products, launched new adhesives and introduced new technologies at this show,” Eichman said.

The company also worked with Creative Edge to create a waterjet-cut sign showcasing the new Bostik logo, made of rubber and set in a field of marble, which was then installed using Bostik’s products and technologies. “We wanted to show both the versatility of Bostik products and what we can do with waterjet,” noted Jim Belilove, Creative Edge president.

Cal-Flor Accessory Systems’ exhibit featured a new natural wood floor oil; Seal Tite, a water-based seal for engineered and laminate floors; and a prototype of Scratch Away for LVT. “That product is going through testing right now,” said Marcos Silva, sales and marketing manager. “The natural wood oil is the result of a customer request.”

Anthony Pasquarelli, Custom Building Products corporate brand manager, said his company was not using the show to simply launch a product or two. “We want to approach things from a total systems standpoint.” Newly announced was the company’s Flooring Installation Systems, a collection of subfloor preparation products for use under all types of floor coverings.

“We’ve had some of these products in our line before, but now you can get a self-leveler, patch, primer and moisture control in one system. Instead of coming out with individual pieces, we now have a comprehensive collection,” he said. “The line will slowly be developing over the next couple of years.”

Exelia Flooring unveiled a virgin PVC interlocking tile flooring system at the show. Khaled Batniji, sales manager, said, “It’s made out of durable PVC, 7mm thick, and is resistant to corrosion. You can have a forklift or pallet jack go over it with no problem. It’s floating, with no glue required. It can be installed with a mallet or hammer.”

Roger Barker, Fortifiber market manager, flooring, said the traffic for his moisture-control underlayment products had improved this year. “Last year we didn’t have nearly as much traffic. This year we partnered with the National Wood Flooring Association as part of their pavilion, and we’re doing pretty well here.”

For Franklin International, the big introduction was the company’s new Titebond Wood Flooring Tape, featuring a proprietary pressure-sensitive adhesive that offers initial strong grab and reaches full strength in 72 hours, aimed at any type of engineered or solid hardwood floor.

Franklin International’s Mark Schroeder, director of marketing communications, noted, “Attendance has been fairly robust. At first glance it’s a strong turnout. What we like about Surfaces is you get to see everything under one roof, with a variety of end-use customers and all the channels present here. It’s a good use of one’s time and energy.”

New introductions to H.B. Fuller’s Tec brand included Design FX grout featuring a reflective effect for ceramic, porcelain, stone, glass, metal and mosaic tile, and several additions to its adhesives lineup.

“We’ve expanded our Tec brand flooring adhesives to have a complete, full line,” said Kristin Fritts, H.B Fuller/Tec senior brand manager. “Surfaces is the perfect venue for debuting these additions to the product line. We have design-inspired grouts, products for waterproofing, crack isolation, same-day installation products and more.”

Bethany Sanker, James Hardie marketing manager, said the company was using the show as a chance to refresh the brand. “We want to focus on the workability of the HardieBacker product, emphasizing how easy it is to cut, and how it offers consistent, simple installation. We also have new supporting materials including an installation video and a completely revised installation guide.”

InstaFloor North America’s Tom Paxton, sales/marketing, was busy demonstrating the InstaLay self-adhesive acoustic underlayment. “It’s a peel and stick product made from recycled tire rubber that offers a loose lay installation over existing flooring and can be used with radiant heating. It’s new to the United States, but has been around for years in Europe.”

According to Bas van Genderen, InstaFloor North America’s managing director, “This is a completely new product to this market and people from every level have shown serious interest. The attendance to our booth has been very high. It’s been above expectations – sometimes even a little overwhelming.”

MAPEI’s new introductions included the Ultracoat product line for wood floor finishing and maintenance, Flexcolor CQ ready-to-use grout and ShowerPerfect Installation Kits for tub-to-shower conversions in hotels, hospitals, dormitories, condominiums and apartments.

Luigi Di Geso, MAPEI Americas president and CEO, also unveiled MAPEI’s new advertising and communications campaign called “World of MAPEI.” Featuring a distinctive illustration of buildings where MAPEI products have been used around the world, the new branding is meant to reflect MAPEI’s complete line of products in the construction industry. “We are not just a flooring installation products company,” he said.

Jim Kelly, an independent agent who helped guide attendees at the MP Global Products exhibit, spoke about the company’s wide range of underlayment products including the new QuietWarmth Film radiant heating system, as well as the new line of rubber interlocking tile flooring. “The great thing about Surfaces is it’s a captive audience,” he said. “People want to learn what’s new out there, so they come here.”

According to Michelle Miller, North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors executive director, “Surfaces represents the industry, and it’s another touch point to visit with members while supporting the industry.” NAFCD sponsored the Distributor Lounge at this year’s show.

Miller also promoted the Member Needs Survey, NAFCD’s first one in three years. “We want to see what challenges our members are facing, and bridge some of those challenges. This survey really focuses and helps tailor our direction, with surgical precision. It helps us move forward, and will show us where we need to go in the next three years.”

Thomas Guilfoyle, Royal Adhesives & Sealants OEM business development manager, flooring adhesives, talked about the company’s new Moisture Lock 9000 moisture control system. “It’s a one-coat, 100 percent solids moisture vapor reduction system for new or existing concrete floors,” he said. “People seem interested, and traffic has been very good.”

Karen Bellinger, Schonox business development, said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout. “We have been extremely busy and holding lots of demos. We’re really happy with the attendance.”

She said the company was showcasing its entire product line, including AP and APF self-leveling underlayment, and Roll and Go adhesive for use with LVT. “We want to show that we offer so many different solutions. We really just want to educate people on what we’re doing.”

USG Corp.’s newest products included the Durock NST (New Slab Technology) System and a new custom shower tray program. Phil Ciesiulka, director of business development, said the NST system “helps concrete contractors accelerate the process, including any moisture mitigation and self-leveling. All issues go away, you can move forward faster and take care of any issues up front. You can speed up the process if you go into the project with the spec written around this system.”

Regarding the custom shower tray program, Scott Crandall, national account sales and business development manager of USG’s Substrates and Specialty Division, noted, “We realized not every shower program offers customers a custom option. We manufacture these trays out of three-pound expanded polystyrene foam, in virtually any size or shape. They are shipped out in three to five days.”

Thilo Hessler, Versatrim president, displayed his company’s SlimTrim moldings for LVT, as well as Extra Tall aluminum and Standard PVC VersaEdge products for laminate, vinyl, hardwood and engineered floors. “Surfaces is a great venue for meeting your current customers and updating them on your latest products,” he said.

Wagner Meters used the show to unveil its new flooring and concrete testing kits(find out more in the Product Focus elsewhere in this issue). “We’ve been getting really good feedback on the kits. This has been one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. It’s a lot more positive, and there are some great discussions being had. The entrepreneurial juices are flowing again,” said Jason Spangler, Wagner sales manager, flooring division.

Kristine Elledge, W.F. Taylor marketing coordinator, said the company was showing a range of products including FreshFloors green flooring cleaner, the MS-Plus line of adhesives and Bond N Weld seam sealer. She said she enjoyed Surfaces for the variety it offered. “I love that it’s a whole range of companies, not just flooring but flooring tools and installation products, as well as all the hands-on demonstrations and seminars.”

Upcoming Surfaces events. The International Surface Event East, a regional version of the International Surface Event, is set for Oct. 20-22, 2014, at the Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Fla.  Additionally, the International Surface Event will be returning to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Jan. 20-23, 2015. As part of Design & Construction Week, it will be taking place at the same time as the International Builders’ Show, the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and the Las Vegas Market.

For more information, visit www.surfaces.com. Visit the digital edition of our magazine for exclusive additional photos from Surfaces 2014.