Numbers up for tile, stone show
By Louis Iannaco
Volume 26/Number 26; May 13/20, 2013
Atlanta—While exhibitors at Coverings may have had trepidations heading into the annual tile and stone show’s first-time venue here, the experience turned out to be a positive one as the traffic was steady and, more importantly, the impressive amount of orders that were placed. Show officials who tallied the numbers toward the event’s closing were happy with the outcome.
“The city of Atlanta told us leading into the show that compared to other geographic regions, attendees in Atlanta register late, so we kept being told, ‘They’ll come, but they’ll come late,’” said Karin Fendrich, COO of National Trade Productions (NTP), which runs Coverings.
“Going into the show we were down a little bit from last year,” she explained, “and we kept our fingers crossed. As of day 2, compared to the same day in Orlando in 2012, we were 3% ahead and so far, overall, 6% ahead. So Atlanta was right; they came, but they just came a little late.”
Coverings 2013 hosted over 900 exhibitors from more than 50 countries, and once again the prevailing trends continued to be larger format tiles; inkjet printing, which allows manufacturers to create the wood look that has been so popular in recent years; self-cleaning tiles, and marketing programs and sales initiatives.
Fendrich explained that because registration for the show is free, there is no incentive to register early, which may explain why the traffic turned out to be stronger than initially assumed. According to many of the event’s exhibitors who have been experiencing solid first quarters, the strong performance may have been related to the economy finally showing some recovery.
Pedro Miralles, commercial director for Spain-based Apavisa, remarked, “so far, so good,” when asked how things were going for the company in 2013. As far as Coverings, he said, “We are very satisfied. We’ve seen the customers we’ve wanted to see; that’s the most important thing for us.”
U.S. export manager Vittorio Vaccari of Italy-based Refin Ceramiche, said, “I was a little skeptical about the venue but I had to change my mind. The booth is accessible and people have shown up. I don’t know if it’s because of the location or because the market is picking up, but I absolutely cannot complain about the show.”
At StonePeak Ceramics—a company that has taken a serious approach to the large-format tile trend—digital marketing specialist Brian Edgmon observed positive response to the company’s Plane engineered porcelain floor and wall panels.
Available in four modular sizes up to 5 x 10 feet, the collection is “the first panel option of its kind,” he noted. With features including flexibility and crack and mold resistance, Plane is also heat and
frost proof, and has no artificial binders or VOC emissions. Available in nine colors, Plane is suited for interiors, exteriors, countertops and veneers.
Another popular launch at Coverings was Crossville’s Hydrotect product, a collection of self-cleaning, antibacterial tiles designed for commercial spaces. “We’ve had a very good response from people when we explain the product,” said Lindsey Ann Waldrep, vice president of marketing.
Much like plants harnessing light for photosynthesis, Hydrotect initiates a reaction between oxygen and humidity in the presence of light, both indoors under normal levels of UV light and outdoors in sunlight. The chemical reaction results in self-cleaning, anti-microbial and air purification mechanisms that keep interiors and exteriors clean.
Another highlight for Crossville was its Virtue porcelain tile marble-look collection, which Waldrep said the company tweaked since its introduction at Surfaces. “Everyone is thrilled the product is only one color line. Virtue replicates the look and finish of marble by capturing the aesthetic qualities of the world’s purest varieties—Carrara, Calacatta and Statuario—blending them in a single shade of subtly veined white in two finishes: unpolished and satin.
“To create the authentic satin finish for the collection, our product development team reworked existing technology,” she explained. “The result is a finish that effectively replicates the feel and luster of gently sculpted, timeworn marble.”
The line comes in modular field tile sizes of 3 x 6, 3 x 6 picket, 6 x 6, 6 x 24, 12 x 12, 12 x 24, and 24 x 24 with mosaics available in 2 x 2 hex and 3 x 3. Trim options, including chair rail, crown molding, base molding, single bullnose, cove base, and inside and outside corners, are also available. Virtue is designed for interior floors, walls, countertops and exterior walls in both residential and commercial applications.
One of the biggest commercial product launches for Coverings was an introduction by Florida Tile called Time/2.0. Aptly named, Time/2.0 is the latest generation of Florida Tile manufacturing technology, no-ted Sean Cilona, director of marketing. “Utilizing the latest processes in double loaded porcelain manufacturing, Time/ 2.0 delivers a highly durable, commercial grade body floor and wall surface,” he explained. “Different from traditional marble veining or the ‘salt and pepper’ double loaded looks, Time/2.0 is a contemporary evolution of what today’s specifications require.”
Time/2.0’s color palette consists of nine colors ranging from Snow White to Deep Black. Each color is comprised of a solid body pigment that sets the overall tone of each tile, which are decorated with slightly contrasting shades, created by individual granules of color that vary in dimension, depth, thickness and pattern. “These granules create a tone-on-tone effect unlike any other tile in the market,” he said. “The beauty of the line comes from this simple play on color that on the surface seems simple, but in reality is a complex balance of shade, tone and texture.”
The new line is available in 12 x 12, 6 x 24, 12 x 24 and 24 x 24 in three finishes—natural, polished and textured—all rectified. Trims include polished and natural bullnose in 3 x 12, as well as cove base and corners. Decorative mosaics are also available. Time/2.0 is porcelain tile and GreenGuard certified, suitable for all commercial and residential floor, wall and countertop applications.
Nicole Kelly, director of marketing for Vitromex USA, said, “There has been a lot of interest in our red body, inkjet ceramic products, which is great for our builder price point and also for some of our customers. It helps that we are able to give a different product with a different look that doesn’t have to be porcelain.
“We’ve also been getting a lot of interest in our wood look products,” she explained, echoing the sentiments of other exhibitors who continue to garner major interest in anything that resembles wood. “The inkjet technology has really been a game-changer for different surfaces that people can put on their floor is.”
Other popular wood looks in the Vitromex booth included plank collections, Miami and Madera. “We also have another interesting wood plank product called Rattan,” Kelly said. Rattan is a 24 x 24 product, which gives the appearance of a butcher block. “We’ve gotten a lot of interest in it.”
Innovation was on display in the marketing arena as well, as companies such as Interceramic showcased a new way to make the selling process easier while also creating the potential for add-on sales. The company displayed its Moods line, which acts similarly to an interior designer’s inspiration board. Interceramic chose some of the more popular paint colors in the North American market and displayed how each coordinated with its product to create a breadth of different looks.