While attendance totals were not available at press time for The International Surface Event (TISE) 2017, held last Jan. 17-20 in Las Vegas, most exhibitors informally polled by FCI believed that attendance was at its highest point since the recession hit. Some were already saying they were planning to exhibit next year.

“We are committing to Surfaces next year with a bigger booth,” stated Chuck Hall, DriTac vice president of sales, who was excited to share a rebranding of his company complete with an updated logo, streamlined website and the new “Adhering to Excellence” tagline.

Myrna Block, DriTac executive vice president, said the rebranding reflects the company’s continued growth and focus on eco-friendly adhesives. “We have trees on the label to show our sustainability. We’re also one of the only adhesive companies made in the U.S. and overseen by U.S. ownership. Our new image says that we’re growing, and we’re happy to put our products against anybody else’s.”

She also sees one area where the company can improve. “We have put a new focus on training our customers and installers. Our products are excellent quality, but that’s not enough. In order to truly service our customers, we have to train them.”

Several other manufacturers were using TISE as the launching pad for a rebrand. Bill Treiber, Artistic Finishes technical sales and education manager, was celebrating the integration of MoldingsOnline into its parent company. “Artistic Finishes has always been our parent. As we expand our horizons, it’s nice to go forward with one name,” he said.

Treiber was also excited to show his company’s newest product Enduracor, which puts a wood veneer wrap onto a waterproof core. “It’s highly functional, long-lasting and aesthetically pleasing. Our focus is what separates us in the accessories niche.”

M-D Pro, formerly Loxcreen Flooring Group, was also promoting a rebrand. “The show is the first time everybody gets a visual of our rebrand. Our customers say they are pleased at the consolidation because there were so many brands we were selling under,” explained Julia Vozza, M-D Pro marketing manager. “We went with M-D Pro because we sell to distributors and contractors. The name creates more brand awareness going forward.”

Among the products she was displaying were Cinch Floor Transitions—which comprise four profiles featuring 3M self-adhesive tape on the back—and a Prova linear drain and modular pan system. “The modular pan system cuts down our SKUS to three for retailers and distributors. You simply buy a center or end drain pan kit, then an extension kit to build it out to any size.”

Along with rebrands, TISE also played host to several anniversaries. MAPEI was celebrating its 80th year in business, and used the event to roll out a contractor contest where the grand prize will be an Arctic Cat Wildcat X recreational off-highway vehicle. According to Diane Choate, head of marketing for MAPEI, the company continues to grow more prominent in the construction industry.

“We haven’t moved away from flooring, but we’ve moved more and more into infrastructure. We have products for structural strengthening, concrete admixtures and products for use in tunnels such as below-grade waterproofing. MAPEI has become a global presence in the construction industry.”

The company’s newest flooring installation product is Mapeguard UM, a crack-suppression and waterproofing membrane that also equalizes vapor pressure. It can be applied over young concrete and single-layer plywood floors. The product is designed for use with latex-modified mortars when installing ceramic tile and natural stone.

MP Global Products’ Jack Boesch, director of marketing, was celebrating both his and the North American Laminate Flooring Association’s (NALFA) 20th anniversary with a display that switched between the MP Global and NALFA logos.

Boesch stated his company had strong ties to the trade group. “We were the first associate member of NALFA. When they started, it was just for laminate manufacturers. [Late NALFA president] Bill Dearing was such a great guy, and the group has done a lot for us.”

He also displayed a new underlayment product for use in basements. “It’s the same fiber product but elevated, which creates airflow and allows vapor to dissipate. The cure to moisture is airflow,” Boesch said.

Peter Barretto, Torlys president and CEO, spoke about the new Multilayer Flooring Association (MFA) of which he is a founding board member. The MFA is planning to set ASTM standards for the new generation of rigid polymer core hybrid floors, often called rigid core flooring or WPC flooring by various manufacturers.

Barretto stated, “We want to create some basic standards around performance, safety and sustainability. We are all competitors working together to make this standard. Once we’re all in the same pool, we can then compete and see who makes the biggest splash.”

One of the companies showcasing a rigid hybrid floor was Armstrong Flooring with Pryzm, which PR consultant Michele Zelman described as “a new luxury floor with a thermoplastic core and acoustical cork backing. It doesn’t react to temperature or humidity. It’s dent-proof, scratch-proof and stain-proof. It’s 100% waterproof and dimensionally stable.”

Emil Mellow, Karndean Designflooring’s vice president of marketing, demonstrated his company’s Korlok, a 56” by 9” rigid core floor with a 5G locking mechanism and attached backing. “It features a 20 mil wear layer and an IIC rating of 62. It took two years to get this ready. It can go over OSB, tile or other uneven or damaged subfloors. And it doesn’t need acclimation.”

Other products of note

Tec introduced its new RollFast Vinyl Flooring Adhesive. According to Ron Loffredo, Tec’s senior technical advisor, “RollFast lets you get off your hands and knees. You apply the adhesive with a nap roller, which means no trowel ridges will telegraph through. It’s a very thin application, with coverage of 400 sq. ft. per gallon. It’s moisture-resistant up to 90% RH. When it dries clear and there’s no transfer to your hand—usually about 10-15 minutes—it’s ready for flooring. You can also heat weld after 60 minutes.”

Laticrete unveiled Hydro Ban Board. According to Maria Oliveira, Laticrete marketing manager, “Hydro Ban Board is a lightweight panel that’s waterproof and ready to tile. It can be used on floors and walls, and in steam showers. With Hydro Ban Board, we now have a complete Hydro Ban shower system backed by our Lifetime System Warranty.”

Karen Bellinger, business development manager for Schonox HPS North America, shared a preview of the company’s Deco tints for its DSP cement-based self-leveler and concrete topping. “You take two bags of our DSP and mix in one bag of Deco. You can lightly polish it or take it to a high polish. It can be used in retail spaces, schools, driveways and other interior/exterior applications for a decorative finished floor. We have it right now ready to go in the warehouse, but we want to make sure the people who install it are trained first. It opens up a different part of the market for us.”

Stauf’s latest is LVP-777 Pro-Lux adhesive for luxury vinyl tiles and planks. According to Stauf’s Walter Littlefield, “it enables us to work with any type of substrate as long as there are no moisture issues or surface issues. LVP-777 has great green grab and incredibly high shear strength.”

Regis Verliefde, Warmup CEO, showcased his company’s DCM-Pro radiant heating cable and mat. He also announced a certified installer program for floor heating in partnership with the International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI). “The trained installer base will get free and firsthand products. All we ask is that they gave us their feedback,” he stated.

The DCM-Pro system is controlled with the 4iE Smart WiFi Thermostat, which monitors user habits to predict when to turn the temperature up and down. “Essentially, we’re not just selling radiant heating—we’re selling a system. The guys who are really into the business side of things understand the importance of selling a package. You put profit in a package.”

Installers weigh in

We asked installers visiting Tool Alley, attending demonstrations of the Installation Showcase and participating in live certifications with CFI, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI) and National Fiber Installer Certification (NFIC) to share their insights on the show.

When the economy began to show signs of improvement, Brock Richards decided to change careers, leaving his desk job and joining his friends in the flooring installation industry. With less than a year of experience under his belt, Richards attended TISE 2017 with Elite Coastal Construction’s installation team to learn more about the industry.

“The company I work for wanted to expose us to what’s new on the market. [They wanted us to] take a look around at what’s going to make our job faster and make us more efficient.”

Specializing in high-end residential projects, the Elite Coastal team, based in Brookings, Ore., was also on the hunt for products and installation techniques to help them meet the demands of their high-end customers.

In his efforts to continuously learn and grow as an installer, Richards found TISE’s Installation Showcase demonstrations informative and beneficial. He looks forward to periodically attending the show in the future to stay informed about how what’s happening in the industry.

According to Arnoldo Godinez Alonzo of ECS Florocovering in Mill Creek, Wash., “I am here to see the demonstrations of carpet installation. I watched the carpet installation workshops and next year I would like to do the certification.”

Phil Wilcox got started in floor coverings in 1989 and started Contractors Flooring in 1994. In 1999 the business was incorporated as Floor It, Inc., in Santa Maria, Calif. The company’s specialty is property management flooring, along with restaurants, schools, healthcare, businesses and even offshore oil platforms. Phil, his son Jonny and the team of apprentices and journeymen do large commercial projects coast to coast.

“We come to Surfaces because we want to know everything about everything,” Wilcox said. “We just watched an installation seminar about moisture testing. We’re here looking for new tools and attend all the training seminars so that we can be aware of new techniques.”

Joshua Greenwell of DFP LLC, a family-owned and -operated installation company in Northwestern Connecticut, stated, “I just finished two days of [CFI] classes to be certified in carpet installation. I specialize in carpet installations and wanted to enhance my skills. We did hands-on training and gained more knowledge with professionals in the field. Being a certified installer brings an added level of comfort to the customer knowing that their job is in good hands.”

TISE 2018 is set for Jan. 29 through Feb. 1, 2018 in Las Vegas. For more information, visit tisewest.com.