February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17
By Steven Feldman
Another January, another Surfaces. How is it possible that 24 years have flown by this quickly? And how is it that each year we gear up for months for what has to be the most grueling week of the year, yet the show seems to be over in a nanosecond? An adrenaline rush, indeed, in every sense of the word.
The festivities for us actually begin on the eve of Surfaces with the National Floorcovering Alliance’s specialty vendor showcase, tucked away in a third floor ballroom at Mandalay. Great prep for the big dance. We get to see some of the best retailers in the land along with some quality manufacturers, some familiar and some new faces. It gets the ball rolling for the 17-hour days that include a breakfast, a show, a slew of cocktail parties and late-night social shenanigans at Eye Candy.
So, if you were able to attend Surfaces, you have your own opinions as to what stood out. Here are my takeaways, dear diary:
First, as has been the story for the last few years, Mohawk and its brands dominated the show floor. The focus is on what the company is calling its “hero” products: Air.o, SmartStrand Silk Reserve, SolidTech and RevWoods. The latter is where the company is betting a bunch that the rebranding of its laminate line (see story on page 14) pays huge dividends.
Mohawk also celebrated the official induction of Jeff Lorberbaum into the industry Hall of Fame by inviting about 1,000 of its closest friends. Well deserved.
So now let’s get to the point: What will I remember from Surfaces? It begins with what seemed like 500 companies showcasing WPC, SPC, rigid core and anything waterproof. That was the buzzword of the show—waterproof. Everyone puts their own spin on the category. And another thing, dear diary, that sticks out: Many companies in the Chinese pavilion could not understand our questions but could certainly exclaim “OEM” quite clearly. Side business next year: translators.
What about product? Well, dear diary, that is a loaded question, because I am setting myself up for failure and offending those I will forget and fail to mention. But here it goes: The extension of the Fabrica brand into hardwood was nothing short of fabulous. Showstopper. You’ve never seen anything like this. Yes, it’s niche but a most appropriate representation of the high-end brand indeed.
Speaking of wood, I know Arte Mundi is not a household name, but you will be hearing a lot about this company moving forward. A Best of Surfaces winner for Best Booth under 1,200 square feet (see the next issue of FCNews), this company showcased unique wood designs embedded with Swarovski crystals as well as a blue-stained hardwood called Denim that caught my eye every time I walked past the booth. Ex-Ark-er John Lee is at the helm.
Then there was the coming-out party for Anderson Tuftex, Shaw Floors’ new high-end, multi-product brand. A most deserving Best of Surfaces winner for Best Booth over 1,200 square feet, the wood portfolio is as strong as ever and makes for a perfect marriage to the highly styled Tuftex line. (If only all marriages were this perfect.) Speaking of which, if it were me, I would find a way to showcase the coordination of a piece of wood with a few samples of carpet and vice versa. Sort of like when design-skill-deprived people like me need to purchase the shirt and tie off the mannequin because we cannot coordinate on our own.
And what about USFloors, dear diary? This company continues to innovate and remain ahead of the WPC world, this time with COREtec Stone. Piet Dossche does not know the meaning of “resting on one’s laurels.”
What else? Let’s play random roulette: Always find the Provenza booth to be special… Metroflor’s party at the House of Blues was the event of the week… I like this idea of magnetic flooring that the WFCA is pushing. I just don’t know how many consumers will accept the additional $1.50 a foot… The new Cleo brand from Congoleum is a surefire winner… Nice to see the venerable Gulistan brand back in the game… Allie Finkell is doing a hell of a job at Hearthwoods. Like father, like daughter.
My body still hurts.