Coverings 2016 posted an uptick in attendance, welcoming more than 25,000 show-goers and 1,100 exhibitors of tile and stone products to McCormick Place in Chicago. Not only did attendance increase over last year, it was also up 15 percent over 2009—the last time Coverings was held in Chicago. Exhibitors polled during the show seemed to confirm this, mentioning that the event was busy and bustling, with an elevated level of energy.

Atlas Concorde used the show as a launching pad for Atlas Concorde USA, a new company based out of Franklin, Tenn., featuring the tagline “Styled in Italy. Proudly American.” According to Maurizio Mazzotti, president of the new company, “We will blend American style with Italian creativity to present something new [to the market].”

Davide Saguatti, marketing director for Atlas Concorde USA, stated, “We are launching nine new collections that combine the contemporary and the classic, with one metal, one wood and one fabric collection.”

The nine collections are: Redeem, a wood-look tile; Fray, a distressed fabric look; Forge, offering metallic shades evoking the look of corrosion and oxidation; Ridge, a mix of traditional and rustic stone looks; Path, featuring a vein-cut travertine visual; Eon, a marble look with lots of variation; Motion, a veined marble look; Sign, a travertine marble visual with delicate veining; and Get, a metropolitan-inspired look.

Florida Tile’s exhibit featured a furry blue microbe mascot standing outside the booth and interacting with customers, as a nod to the partnership between Florida Tile and Microban antimicrobial protection. Sean Cilona, Florida Tile’s director of marketing and product development, stated, “The theme for us this year is the commercial side of the business. We have new presses and new equipment in Kentucky and so are able to do larger sizes.”

He also announced a new partnership. “We are going to be the exclusive supplier of the Cotto d’Este brand in the U.S. It’s an ultra-premium luxury porcelain line, and the most installed thin tile in the world. We’ll be supplying the product through our inventory and our sales team in the U.S.”

Soci returned to Coverings after several years away. According to Connie Gumm, Soci’s vice president, “It’s our first year back since 2011. We’re returning with a new booth, a new logo and a new website. We’re also unveiling our first-ever porcelain line.”

New Products for Contractors

Gino Soroker, brand manager for first-time exhibitor Kemper System America, showcased his company’s Kemperol 022, a solvent-free, fully reinforced, two-component resin waterproofing system.

“Our company has been around since 1957,” Soroker explained. “We are generally a spec-driven product, and are well-known by architects for our exterior-grade waterproofing and roofing systems.”

The company noticed that contractors were using its exterior-grade waterproofing product indoors, so Kemper developed a system that’s easier to use in interior applications under tile. “The system includes a resin, reinforcing fleece and silica sand, which is broadcast into the resin while it is still wet,” Soroker stated. “We came to Coverings to tell the [tile and stone] world about it.”

Kemper System wasn’t the only seasoned manufacturer testing the waters of the tile market. Joel Guth, president of iQ Power Tools, demonstrated his company’s iQTS244, a dry-cut tile saw with integrated dust control.

“We started building our first units 15 years ago, but we are primarily known for masonry saws,” Guth noted. “We looked at the growth going on in the tile industry, and decided to bring our 15 years of saw technology into this.”

The saw incorporates a 92 CFM high-output vacuum that starts running as soon as the saw turns on, a filter system designed for easy cleaning and a dust containment tray that only needs to be emptied once a day, Guth said.

Shane Smith, marketing manager for Bellota, demonstrated his company’s POP Tile Cutters, which can be used to cut porcelain, ceramic and mosaic glass tile via a replaceable tungsten carbide cutting wheel. “Rubber pads secure tile to the base when scoring, and absorb shock when breaking the tile,” he explained.

Tony Pasquarelli, Custom Building Products’ director of marketing services, previewed two new products: SpeedSlope and RedGard SpeedCoat. “SpeedSlope is a rapid-setting sloping mortar. SpeedCoat is a rapid-curing waterproofing membrane,” he said.

He added that the products are designed for the rapid installation of custom-made showers. “People remodeling now are either ripping out an existing bathtub and putting in a shower, or expanding their existing shower. They are throwing away the idea of a standard-sized shower. These products offer flexibility to those remodelers.”

Coverings 2017 is slated for April 4-7, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. For more information, visit