March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20
By Reginald Tucker
Excitement is building for the 2018 National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) conference and exhibition, set to kick off April 11–14 at the Tampa Convention Center. Continuing on its steady growth trajectory for the past seven consecutive years, NWFA will feature scores of vendors showcasing the latest in hardwood flooring products, installation tools and accessories; and dynamic keynote speakers and expert technical demonstrations.
NWFA 2018 expects to draw hundreds of specialty hardwood flooring contractors, retailers and distributors from around the globe. The three-day event offers attendees 20-plus hours of educational programming, invaluable networking activities, an exhibition teeming with stylish new products and installation tools as well as special events and entertainment. It’s all part of an evolution designed to deliver greater value to all participants.
“We are really looking forward to bringing our industry together for another tremendous show,” said Michael Martin, NWFA president and CEO. “With the continued success of NWFA University and increased engagement with our members, we have more to offer than ever and know that will make this year’s show even better.”
Among the key focal points of the event:
Opening Splash. An opening welcome reception on Wed., April 11, from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., will be followed by a keynote presentation featuring special guests Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, owners of Cousins Maine Lobster who appeared on TV’s “Shark Tank” series. The businessmen, known for growing their small food truck start-up into a national franchise success, will share their experiences with attendees during the keynote presentation.
The owners started their small business in 2012 with one food truck in Los Angeles. In a few short years, they’ve grown to having 20 trucks in 13 cities throughout the U.S. “No matter what facet of the industry you are in, they have a lot of knowledge and expertise we can all benefit from and take back to our own businesses,” Martin said.
Tselikis and Lomac are also expected to serve as judges on NWFA’s “Plank Tank” competition, a play on “Shark Tank,” where contestants pitch their business ideas in the hopes of securing private investment funds to develop those ideas and concepts. The celebrity judges, along with a team of wood flooring professionals, will review previously submitted industry-related business ideas to determine their merits. Three finalists will then present their ideas on stage at the NWFA Expo. The grand prize winner will receive a customized package of NWFA marketing and education products and services valued at more than $15,000. It’s all designed to help the winner bring his or her product/idea to market.
Live entertainment immediately follows the keynote presentation by Cousins Main Lobster. NWFA has invited the Hammerhead Band, which will kick off the Expo with a heart-throbbing steel drum performance.
Expo and product showcase. The trade show floor runs from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, and from 10:45 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Friday, April 13. Here, more than 260 exhibitors spanning hardwood flooring manufacturers, as well as suppliers of adhesives, tools and accessories, will showcase their goods and services.
In addition to the booth presentations, attendees will have an opportunity to view 15 exhibitor demonstrations taking place across the show floor. Following seven consecutive years of growth, this year’s Expo will offer even more education, more hands-on demonstrations and more opportunities to engage with industry professionals.
“Our trade show has grown for the seventh consecutive year, with dozens of first-time exhibitors on the show floor,” said Anita Howard, COO of the NWFA. “Contractor attendee prizes will top $20,000 this year, including a
Lägler TRIO worth $6,000.”
Educational sessions. NWFA attendees are invited to participate in quality programming that will focus on a variety of topics, including sales and marketing, management or industry-specific technical topics. With 20-plus sessions addressing the entire supply chain, this year’s education offers something for everyone.
“This year’s education sessions will take a deep dive into relevant industry topics, including sales, management and technical issues,” Howard noted. “As we continue to implement adult learning principles, our Think Tank sessions will combine conventional presentations with attendee-directed collaborations. It’s a hybrid of traditional and modern learning methods that will engage all generations and learning styles.”
This year’s education program is going to look different than years past. Sessions will include a mix of traditional speakers lecturing on a topic as well as roundtable discussions facilitated by an industry expert. “These interactive sessions are designed to allow attendees to have a more meaningful and impactful experience through peer-to-peer interaction and reflective discussions,” Howard added. “Our hope is that each attendee will leave with something they can practice when back in their daily routines, and that a collaborative and reflective environment will lend to this experience.”
Floor of the Year Awards presentation. The winners of the popular NWFA Floor of the Year Awards will be announced during a special reception from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13, during the “Final Drive.” NWFA developed the coveted awards program to encourage and recognize innovative craftsmanship and design in wood flooring installations.
For this year’s competition, NWFA has revamped the categories to align the awards with its refined Master Craftsman program. The new categories now focus on specific skill sets taught during NWFA training:
- Best circular/curved application
- Best color & finish application
- Best parquet/inlay application
- Best restoration/makeover
- Best textured wood application
The event comes to a festive close after the Floor of the Year awards ceremony with a performance by the Landsharks Band, the official Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band members who also play the music of the Beach Boys.