HICKSVILLE, N.Y.—As the majority of the industry makes its final preparations for Surfaces 2011, Floor Covering News and Hanley Wood, the show’s owner, are reminding everyone there is still time to add to their market experience by reserving a spot for a class or two from the extensive list of offerings in the show’s educational conference program.
Sponsored by FCNews, the 2011 Surfaces educational conference features 49 courses geared toward the flooring industry, many of which are being offered for the first time. There are also 26 other classes that are specific to either designers or Hanley Wood’s StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas show, being run in con- junction with Surfaces at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Jan. 24 to 27 in Las Vegas. All together, there are 75 educational opportunities of which attendees can take advantage.
With so many courses covering a plethora of topics, the program is broken into tracks to make it easier for attendees to find the classes most appropriate for their needs. This year, the tracks are as follows: Business, Sales, Marketing, Building Design & Trends, Flooring Installation, Stone Fabrication/Installation, Care/Maintenance/Restoration and Concrete (focused on countertops). The final three are primarily geared toward StonExpo attendees.
In addition to being broken into tracks, the educational pro- gram is divided into three components: 1) three-hour pre-show workshops on Mon., Jan. 24; 2) 90-minute seminars held Mon- day through Thursday before and during the market, and 3) 60-minute mini sessions held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The entire program has been carefully developed to cover a wide array of the most relevant topics in the floor covering and stone industries,” said Chelsie Thornton, conference program manager.
Al Wahnon, editor of Floor Covering News, pointed out since the first edition of the publication “we have promoted and written about the importance of education. No matter your position or experience, quality training such as the kind offered during Surfaces helps make oneself a professional and stand out among the competition.”
The aspect of raising one’s skills to new heights has not only remained a constant truth, he added, “it is vitally important as the industry and country continue to maneuver their way out of this recession. There is never really a bad time to further one’s knowledge, but during tough economic times it is critical to get a leg up on the latest trends, technology and techniques.”
In addition to being the official sponsor of the Surfaces seminars, FCNews is once again taking an active part in the program itself as some of the publication’s regular and contributing columnists are either featured presenters or part of an expert panel discussion. And, in each case, the course is part of the many new ones being offered at the show this year.
Most notable is Lew Migliore, author of FCNews’ “Claim File” column and president of the industry’s leading troubleshooting firm, LGM and Associates Technical Flooring Services. His class, “New Green Floor Covering Backings and Installation Technology,” will be held Tuesday at noon.
In describing the class, he noted, most of the new technology in flooring materials exists in the product backings and installation. “With concerns for moisture issues, installation failures and socially responsible flooring products, whatever position a person occupies in the industry he must know about the changes and paradigm shifts that are here now.”
As such, Migliore said participants will learn the newest technologies, techniques and trends in green backings and installation systems and how they can help avoid problems that may require premature flooring replacement. In addition to receiving in-depth information, attendees will get to see and touch the products.
Also, Scott Perron, president of Big Bob’s Flooring Outlets of America and author of FCNews’ “Retailer2Retailer” column, will present, “Wartime Retail: Strategies for Planning and Executing Success” in the Business track on Wednesday at 8 a.m.
From understanding how to design a strategy, develop a plan and execute it, grow market share and gross dollars to identifying the untapped essential data—already present in the business—that dealers must collect in order to properly measure and monitor their success, his session will focus on best business practices and proven strategies that, when followed, promise to give retail stores the necessary edge over the competition.
Perron added the class will discuss the need for dealers to embrace changes in technology, consumer buying habits and effective marketing in today’s economy. It will also go over ways measure employee performance and commit to hold everyone in the company—especially the owner—accountable for success.
In addition to his own session, Perron will be part of a panel discussion in the Marketing track on Monday at 1 p.m. Titled, the “Basics of Competitive Marketing,” the panel also includes Paul Friederichsen, president of BrandBiz, a professional marketing and advertising firm with strong ties to the flooring industry, and fiber industry veteran Christine Whittemore, founder of Simple Marketing Now and author of “The Carpetology Blog” and “Flooring the Consumer” blogs.
Dave Stafford, frequent contributor to the “Installments” column, will be on a panel in the Business track titled, “Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About [the] Commercial Flooring Business.”
Moderated by Sim Crisler, vice president of LGM and Associates, the panel also includes Jeanne Matson, president and CEO of the Starnet Worldwide commercial buying group, and Alan Beswick, owner and president of ReSource Floors in San Diego.
This course, which will take place Monday at 3 p.m., will answer questions about how to do commercial business. Panelists will discuss how to know whether you are ready for this business segment and mistakes to avoid. Emphasis will be placed on questions from the audience.
One of the more eagerly anticipated courses over and above those from FCNews’ columnists is a panel discussion in the Business track on Wednesday at 4 p.m. on the “State of the Industry.” Led by Chris Davis, president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association, Surfaces’ official sponsor, this high-powered panel features the heads of the leading organizations representing the various flooring categories, including Werner Braun of the Carpet & Rug Institute, Dean Thompson of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, Ed Korczak of the National Wood Flooring Association, Eric Astrachan from the Tile Council of North America and Bill Dearing of the North American Laminate Flooring Association.
In addition to discussing the current state of the industry, the group will look at some of the major trends, challenges and opportunities affecting retailers during this 90-minute session.
Dana Teague, director of both Surfaces and StonExpo, said the entire conference is registered with the leading organizations that offer continuing education credits, including AIA/CES, ASID, AIBD, IDEC, IICRC, IIDA and NKBA. “Attendees not only receive valuable knowledge and insight into the floor covering and stone industries, they will receive the continuing education credits required to maintain their status with their respective professional organizations.”
Though the chance to take classes for free has passed, Hanley Wood has changed the conference’s pricing structure. Instead of charging attendees a per-class fee, there is a one-time charge of either $99 for WFCA members or $125 for non-members. This fee gives access to the exhibition halls and allows attendees to take as many classes as they can during the show.
Experts will say it is best to balance the exhibit hall and classes in order to get the full show experience. No matter how one decides to attack the market, when it comes to making the most of what the educational program has to offer, Wahnon concluded, “Those who are best prepared to meet the challenges that lie ahead in the new economy will be the ones who reap the most rewards.”
To learn more about the program or to register prior to the show, visit surfaces.com.