Volume 26/Number 25; April 29/May 6, 2013
by Lou Iannaco
Atlanta—Spending most of its recent history in Orlando, Fla., many had concerns about how the 2013 edition of Coverings, the largest domestic tile and stone show, would fare with its change of venue. As it turned out, the main concern was not so much Atlanta itself, but the facility in which the event took place.
Held in separate spaces with a connecting hallway, navigation did prove troublesome for some at first, but as Coverings attendees became familiar with the Georgia World Congress Center, by the middle of the first day exhibitors saw steady traffic and enjoyed a profitable opening.
“New venues are always just a little more time consuming,” said Karin Fendrich, COO of National Trade Productions (NTP), which runs Coverings. “They don’t have to be hard; you just don’t have the paved path you’ve walked down. As something new, this has gone so well. It’s been an easy sell for the exhibitors. It crosses over to their Orlando market just enough, but not too much. It brings them something new. Attendees are pouring in.”
Heading into the show, Fendrich noted attendee registration was trending in single digits behind 2012, which she saw as encouraging given the event’s new venue and market. With 17,000 attendees preregistering, she said the final number of attendees ends up being 20,000 to 21,500 due to the large number of on-site registers.
Regarding the total number of exhibitors showing at the World Congress Center—more than 900—this year’s edition matched that of last year’s show. “For a new market, the numbers are astounding,” she said. “The A&D community here is so strong, and that has been a positive aspect.”
Fendrich was excited about the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Tiled Bench exhibit in one of the hallways. Coverings, along with the interior design department at SCAD, created a 10-week course in which students learned tile design. Six benches were on display. “What the exhibit represents is Coverings entering into the A&D community. Young people who may not be thinking of tile and stone as their future while in school now have been introduced to it in a very positive and creative way.”
Other show highlights, she noted, were the improved contractor tours; Project Green, a program recognizing sustainability; new and remodeled commercial, institutional and residential projects featuring tile and stone, and the CID Awards which celebrate the creativity and technical know-how of tile and stone use in residential and commercial projects.
Exhibitors echoed Fendrich’s positivity and excitement.
“The show was very successful for us,” said Marianne Cox, director of marketing at American Marazzi. “We’ve had great feedback on our new products and we’ve seen many of our customers.”
However, Cox noted the venue’s layout seemed to be confusing to some attendees. “The only challenge was explaining how to get around. Other than that, we love Atlanta. Having the show here was a great idea.”
Tom Smith, president of Cooperativa Ceramica d’Imola, saw Atlanta as a new and exciting experience. “This isn’t a town you typically think of for tradeshows. But with a beautiful downtown and so many great restaurants, it really has contributed to a good experience. We couldn’t be happier with our outstanding turnout.”
Ceramica d’Imola had six new products on display, including two wood-look offerings, Vein and Wood, and proudly touted being the first overseas company to become Green Squared certified.
The wood-look trend continued at Coverings as Florida Tile displayed its new Magnolia line, a high-definition porcelain featuring an 8 x 36 plank available in six colors. Sean Cilona, the company’s director of marketing, noted Magnolia was one of the big hits of the show for Florida Tile.
Marazzi also displayed a new exotic porcelain wood look, Harmony, featuring four colors in rectified 6 x 36 and 9 x 36 sizes which attracted much attention to the company’s booth.