Las Vegas—With every major flooring manufacturer represented, and with international attendees returning at their highest level in years, Surfaces ’24 very much hit the mark as the industry’s most important flooring event.
“A lot of what I heard was, ‘It’s back,’” Amie Gilmore, Informa show director, told Floor Covering News. “People were happy. A lot of our big leaders from Informa were here and they were happy, too.”
While final numbers were still being tabulated at press time, Gilmore said more than 20,000 attendees filled Mandalay Bay Convention Center across three days, eclipsing attendance numbers for 2023.
This year Surfaces returned to its normal show hours of 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the first two days and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on the final day, resulting in an additional hour the first two days. Gilmore said exhibitors used that time wisely to schedule more appointments, which led to additional sales. “People wanted the extra time, and we had a good response,” she said. “I met a lot of first-time people at the show, which I love.”
Surfaces returns to a Tuesday-through- Thursday format next year, Jan. 28-30, at Mandalay Bay. Unlike this year, there will be no Super Bowl in town— which forced the show to be held a week earlier than usual.
Gilmore said that before the 2024 show had ended, multiple suppliers had already re-upped for 2025, in some cases seeking larger spaces. International attendance, meanwhile, which had waned significantly during the pandemic, continued to make a comeback with greater representation from Asia and Europe.
Exhibitors attested to the mood of the show. “I feel better about 2024 today than I did when I got here,” said Ralph Grogan, commercial president, flooring division for Meridian Adhesives, which oversees the Taylor brand. “The show exceeded our expectations.”
Jared Coffin, vice president of product management for The Dixie Group, said he was kept busy by swarms of retail visits the first two days. “The mood among retailers was really good, which is a pleasant surprise,” he said. “Everybody was positive; there was a good vibe out there.”
Flooring dealers agreed Surfaces 2024 stood out in a number of ways. “I thought it was a good Surfaces, busier compared to the previous year,” said Michel Vermette, CEO of America’s Floor Source, Columbus, Ohio. “Better goods overall stood out. Everybody had a laminate offering to go after Mohawk’s RevWood. Everyone had a WPC to go after COREtec. There were more sustainable stories, more patterns to go with higher-end goods, which was nice to see. Overall, a lot of companies came to play and put their best foot forward.”
Vermette said the vibe among exhibitors and fellow retailers was positive, and he was not alone in that observation. “The mood was good with more excitement in some booths like DreamWeaver, Stanton and Mohawk,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network. “Although some vendors said traffic was down, they actually did more business in Vegas than they did at the Dallas show. I’m glad we attended.”
Bruce Odette, president of Denver-based Carpet Exchange, added, “The landscape for Surfaces was buzzing with excitement as suppliers unveiled a wave of innovations. This year’s enthusiasm inspires a positive outlook for business in 2024.”
Color innovation was the common denominator among the mills exhibiting at Surfaces, as new merchandising displays and technology enhancements were introduced—with the goal of bringing new vitality to the segment.
According to flooring retailers, Stanton showed an array of beautiful new carpets including Marilyn, Monte Verde, San Vito. “They had so many new styles it was hard to pick our favorite, but the focus on color was refreshing,” said Susan Hadinger, CEO of Hadinger Flooring, Naples, Fla.
Excitement was also noted at The Dixie Group booth, which continues to impress with its nylon offerings and recent focus on decorative. And, of course, Mohawk and Engineered Floors flexed their muscles with an array of new offerings that will be shipping to retailers in the first quarter.
If there was any lingering doubt about the resurgence of the laminate flooring segment in the U.S. market, those questions were put to rest by the sheer number of laminate brands—both existing suppliers and newcomers—at the show.
“We’ve been putting a strong focus on the laminate flooring category for many years now, and we’re one of the largest suppliers right now in California for waterproof laminate,” said Isaac Lee, marketing director, Eternity. “But when you look across the showroom floor here it seems that more companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Ultimately, it’s good for the industry and encourages more innovation in the category.”
For Eternity, as well as other companies specializing in laminate flooring, the resurgence does not come as a surprise. Laminate flooring has long been associated with durability and scratch resistance. However, in recent years, those attributes have only improved as suppliers leverage new technologies in the areas of performance and water resistance.
The resilient category remains the one to beat—outselling every other flooring category of late—and suppliers came to play. From new eco-friendly and recycled iterations of rigid core flooring to elevated SPC and even new entrants into the WPC subcategory, there was no shortage of innovation in resilient flooring at the show.
SPC, for example, may have been hit hard in 2023 by detentions at the ports and even low-end products giving the construction a bad name, but the category hit back this year. Most flooring suppliers tackled the issue of quality head on and launched higher-end, thicker boards with advanced technologies aimed at showing the consumer the true might of SPC.
However, PVC-free may become the name of the game if this year’s show is any indication. Major players and those tried-and-true brands just entering the category made a play for sustainability in the hopes of capturing younger consumers who seem to put “the greater good” first.
Tile is arguably the most beautiful flooring category of them all and definitely flaunted that fact at this year’s show. There to show its true prowess—and undoubtedly to fight off the advances of resilient—the show floor was flush with highly stylized tile capable of tackling all manner of surfaces within the home, indoor and out.
Suppliers noted that while tile has been taking a hit from the likes of rigid core and even laminate of late, there’s light at the end of the tunnel with new technologies and designs capable of stealing back its share of the market.
From next-gen 3D printing to luscious textures and even new merchandising displays designed to ease the selling process, there was no shortage of must-have tile products at this year’s show.
The wood flooring sector is not going to sit idly by while look-alike alternatives—such as laminate and LVP—continue to eat hardwood’s lunch. While many of the laminate, SPC and hybrid/rigid core products aim to deliver more value to the consumer, a significant portion of the hardwood products showcased at Surfaces 2024 targeted the upper range of the flooring market—a place where many competing hard surfaces fear to tread. These range from trendy, wide-and-long-plank products to more specialty, customized floors featuring advanced finishing and surface texturing applications.
It’s all part of an initiative, hardwood suppliers agree, to further separate the hardwood flooring category from the entry-level, me-too brigade while giving distributors and specialty retailers a wider array of products that generate much higher margins and, by extension, profits.
(For detailed coverage on each category, check back to fcnews.net throughout the week, or see our latest print issue of FCNews.)