Al’s column: A look back on my time at Surfaces

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February 2/10, 2020: Volume 35, Issue 16

By Jerry Levinson

I run Flooring Dealers & More, one of the largest Facebook groups in the retail flooring space. We have over 4,500 members with active conversations daily. It really feels like we are connected to this industry in a unique and active way.

But that pales in comparison to Surfaces. More than 800 brands are represented and attendees from over 78 countries came to the show. I was in awe of the size of the event, even though it was my second time attending. The people in the flooring industry are some of the hardest working people I know, so you can also appreciate the work that goes into orchestrating this massive event.

Here’s my summary of the good, the not-so-good and the “OMG!”

The good. The three days I was there I shot more than 20 videos from unique businesses—some you know, some you never heard of and some you really need to learn about. Websites from the top companies who are also flooring pros were represented. Software and brilliant ideas developed from frustrated flooring professionals who developed tools specifically for our industry.

I saw product launches that reinvent the way tile is being installed. There is a clear presence from people in our industry concerned with not only the labor shortage, but also the quality of the work being done.

The big boys are always there showing off new product launches, great new lines and new displays. But what I love the most are the little guys who are taking a chance by investing in a booth, marketing, staffing and all the costs associated with presenting at Surfaces. For example, PerfectVents.com sells custom vents that match any type of LVT, wood or laminate floor. Another company, OnRivet.com, has developed pricing software to make it easy to put one label (a QR Code) on your samples and keep up to date with prices, sales and specials. Then there was StoneTrash.com which purchases your leftover stone/tile inventory.

All these pioneers are in the flooring business. They created these businesses to solve a problem they have shared with everyone in the flooring community.

The not-so-good. While I was impressed and amazed at who was there (i.e., heavy equipment manufacturers who produce machines used to cut and create custom countertops), I was surprised there were no companies specializing in kitchen cabinets or window coverings.

The OMG. My friend Jason Goldberg, who owns America’s Floor Source and developed Retail Lead Management, has a new brainchild that stole the show. I’ll be honest, the idea seems way too complicated and cumbersome to pull off. Quite frankly, if it were anyone else this idea wouldn’t make it past the cocktail napkin at the bar. Jason spent six months researching and developing his idea, working with installation professionals like Ken Balling and some of the best programmers out there to create TraLaMa, which stands for “Trade Labor Market Place.”

Jason is no stranger to the installer shortage. In his own company, he can go from 100 to 300 installs a week. Even though I run a much smaller company, I can go from 10 to 25 installs a week. I’m anxious to start using it at Carpets of Arizona.

Other highlights: RevoTile, a new floating ceramic tile line from Daltile, which plans to host our Flooring Business Master Class in March in Dallas. Join us if you can—it’s always fun to work with flooring pros to help increase their Profits.

Write me at Jerry@profitnowwithjerry.com

 

Jerry Levinson is the owner of Carpets of Arizona and founder of Profit Now, a consultant business for flooring dealers. He has also authored two books on sales and marketing. In addition, Levinson manages the Flooring Dealer Group on Facebook, which boasts more than 3,000 members.

 

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