Editor’s note: Due to unforeseen circumstances FCI editor Michael Chmielecki was unable to attend the NWFA show in St Louis. FCI editorial director and NWFA instructor Jon Namba offers his take on the record-breaking show, which grew another 15 percent in attendance and participation over last year’s show, according to the organization.
This year’s National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) Expo, with its sold-out show floor, was held in St. Louis, the organization’s hometown. The event marked the 30th anniversary of the association and those who attended had a ball—and yes the sports metaphor was intentional. The event was held at Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams. One evening, the NWFA arranged for a large group of expo attendees to visit Busch Stadium in several attached suites to enjoy a Cardinals game, relax with friends and network. The Cardinals even won that night.
The 2015 Expo theme, “Play it Forward,” focused on growing members’ businesses through service to others. Plenty of education was offered to attendees, with more than 20 hours available in skill tracks on management, marketing/sales, technical skills, design, collaboration and legislative concerns.
The day prior to the official kickoff, the NWFA Certified Professionals held their symposium. I had the opportunity to instruct the Certified Professionals retail sales professional track with my colleague Don Conner. We were quite surprised at the large number of attendees (72) that will be working to become NWFACP Certified Sales advisors with an online written test.
The technical information didn’t stop in the classroom either. On the show floor hands-on demonstrations in two theaters ran throughout each day of the show. The show floor featured everything under the dome, with wood products for retailers, distributors, and installers.
During the general sessions, Michael Martin, president and CEO of the NWFA, and Jeff Fairbanks, chairman of the NWFA and vice president of sales for Palo Duro Hardwoods, introduced some great personalities. These included baseball legend Ozzie Smith, who announced NWFA’s partnership with the Gateway PGA Reach Foundation for underprivileged youth; and “Coach Bill” Courtney, a lumber mill owner, high school football mentor and subject of Oscar award-winning documentary “Undefeated,” who centered his talk around leadership. Super Bowl champion Isaac Bruce and John Mozeliak, general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, also spoke.
Actor Gary Sinise discussed his Gary Sinise Foundation, which provides services and “smart” homes to veterans who served our country and have lost limbs. Sinise also took the opportunity to announce a partnership between his foundation and the NWFA, as NWFA members will be involved with the installation of wood flooring in the foundation homes.
Next year’s expo will be held in Charlotte, N.C., April 27 to May 1, 2016. Hope to see you there! For more information, visit nwfa.org.