It seemed to be business as usual at the Surfaces Convention this week. Mannington had moved from the main showroom to a prime spot in the Venetian hallways, and Armstrong had moved from the Hotel of Mandalay Bay to a nice spot just off the main hallway in the Venetian. The net effect of their booth moves and others were a plus for the convention.
The attendees were supposedly over 50% off from last year, however this was not evident to me. It is probably true that the decision makers were there. There’s no doubt that many areas upstairs in the main showroom seemed empty, however, there were many booths upstairs that always seemed very busy.
Downstairs the story was a bit different, with lots of small booths and a grid layout that kept even the most seasoned attendees a little bit lost. The traffic was very steady and very good. Our booth was downstairs, showing primarily residential sheet vinyl and hardwood flooring, and we were extremely pleased with the show.
The show definitely had a California slant for attendees. This would seem normal since Las Vegas is so much closer to the west coast versus the east. Besides west coast dealers, there seemed to be lots of attendees from Canada. This surprised me, but customers from anywhere are good to see. The Canadians seemed very interested in our programs and hopefully will do some business.
The Chinese were definitely there in force, but only seemed interested in selling, not buying. I priced several 12 mil, high-gloss laminate products, and always got a similar answer. The prices ran $.95 to $1.20 landed in Dalton, Georgia. They had no US warehouse, and basically no customer services. They spoke broken English, but I think they tried to explain they had good German manufacturing equipment and their locking systems did not infringe on anyone’s patent.
All in all, Surfaces is an excellent industry show. They have made a go of it without the support of Shaw or Mohawk. Our industry needs an annual show, and I wish these two industry giants would support it. I would also like to see Surfaces move to an east coast location like Orlando or Atlanta, but Las Vegas is fine. Las Vegas is always a fun place to visit, and I guess the powers that be think it is the best location, and maybe it is. A Las Vegas show is a whole lot better than no show at all.
If you missed Surfaces 2009, you missed a great show. I only hope next year will be bigger and better. We’ve got to work hard and work smart to get through this difficult year. Do your business a favor and don’t miss out next year.