Having just returned from Surfaces I have to say it was probably my best show ever. Despite the slowdown in the economy the mood was more than up beat. We can say that on average business is probably down overall between 15 and 20% for flooring manufacturers but there are segments where business is brisk. Everyone I spoke with was more than happy with this years Surfaces. The consensus was that they were not expecting much and were pleasantly surprised with the results. In particular people selling promotional goods such as Dalton Carpet Mart, did more business than ever before at Surfaces. Another dealer, Bucklers’, who showed for the first time had the same thing to say. Promotional goods are products from carpet manufacturers that are overruns, drops, color changes, etc., all first quality for the most part, but not carried by the original manufacturer. These products can be purchased far below original cost and sold at a higher margin making them a great value in today’s economy.
Other show spaces were very busy as well; Mannington for example had a full house everyday, as did Beaulieu, Centiva, Royalty and Healthier Choice. I also saw and spoke with executives from manufacturers not showing who came to see what was going on. I don’t think they’d have been there if they didn’t think some business was going to be done. And the lower level, always a bee hive of activity, did not disappoint. There weren’t as many exhibitors but those I know and spoke with were very pleased with the traffic and were doing business. The last day of the show didn’t fade either. I left at mid afternoon of this short day and there was still traffic at the show, not what you’d normally expect to see. People who attended were there to do business and it was obvious.
I’ve been conducting seminars at Surfaces for years now and this year had to be the best ever. At my first seminar titled “Flooring Installation: What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You,” they had to keep bringing additional chairs in. There were nearly 100 people in attendance. Later in the day I was on a panel discussion about installation and again the room was full. There was no shortage of attendees and they were there for a purpose and what they learned will give them an advantage in their market.
I’ve always maintained the philosophy that if you’re going to be in an industry you must be involved. Not attending trade shows like Surfaces keeps you away from the action, the adrenaline rush of doing business and from seeing what’s new and different that you can be a part of. It’s an opportunity that should not be avoided. It’s being close to the heartbeat of the industry. If executives of the largest flooring manufacturers attend, even if they don’t show, then everyone in the business should be there. What do they know that you don’t? Surfaces is the flooring industry on full display and to the attendees go the spoils. Many exhibitors, as I stated earlier, were actually giddy with delight at the business they wrote.
Attending Surfaces gives you a leg up on your competition. It exposes you to everything that’s new and different in the flooring industry from flooring materials, to accessories and ancillary items. It is a look at the world of flooring with exhibitors and attendees from around the world. It is a place and chance to catch up with old friends in one place, to conduct business meetings, to cultivate opportunities for business and to map the remainder of the year. It allows you to see things your competitors won’t see no matter how many regional shows they may attend. It’s where the world comes to hawk their goods to the largest and most sophisticated flooring market on earth. This is where you have to be if you’re going to be in the flooring business. As the saying goes, attributed to many, “In the face of adversity lies opportunity.” In a down economy Surfaces was the opportunity everyone in the flooring industry should have taken advantage of. Just think of those who bought truckloads of promotional goods from those giddy suppliers. Those dealers are going to have a product to sell at a handsome profit that their buyers won’t see anywhere else in their market. That should make you envious.