An ‘Influencer’ Visits Surface Show

Looking into the Cleo exhibit, one sees a number of engineered floor coverings using digital printing.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Attending the trade show known as The International Surface Event (TISE) last Thursday wasn’t easy. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center parking area was full, so I drove to the Mandalay Bay visitor parking building and walked…a dandy hike…to the convention center. TISE, incidentally, is the largest North American flooring event serving all the floor covering industry. Organized by Informa USA, the 800-exhibitor event is a combination of three shows: SURFACES, StonExpo/Marmomac and TileExpo.

Once in the convention area, I needed to find the press room to pick up my badge. Backtrack, I was told, and then take the escalator to the ground floor. Once below ground, I was officially directed to the press room, but couldn’t find it. I went back and forth several times and saw no signs for the press room. Finally I spotted another usher who explained that the “press room” was actually the room marked “Influencers”. Those who say journalism is dead may be right. No longer am I a press journalist or a staff writer, I am an “influencer”.

Influencer my eye.

My first stop was in the Mohawk exhibit which promised a range of “all-pet” products. I knew Mohawk as a carpet company and wondered about the “pet” thing. (I have three pets and one of them is occasionally forgetful that we have a doggie door.) The first gentleman I met was quite nice, but when I wanted him to talk on a video, he got quite nervous and said he’d only been with the company a short time, and Mohawk had public relations folks for that and….I hate speaking with PR folks. I was told to stand by and that gentleman would find me a spokesperson. I waited and waited. Then a woman approached and asked if she could help. She was from the Mohawk Marketing team, but she wasn’t the “right” person to answer my question either. I told her I just wanted a short video and….she said she had to find someone else, so I waited again. (Love those big companies.) Finally, Jason Randolph arrived to talk with me and he was great.

As it turned out, Randolph’s was the only video I got that day because my camera was having video card problems. I walked the show floor anyway and was overwhelmed with the possibilities of floor and countertop coverings. Real wood floors compete with vinyl and tile “look-alikes”. A company called “Eighteen 50” had a display of wood wall coverings, designs to make an accent wall quite memorable. The folks at arte mundi featured “crystal element floors” featuring Swarovski crystals imbedded in floor tile. I can’t imagine vacuuming or mopping floors with imbedded crystals, but they are available.

Viper is a company that makes tools for cutting, grinding and polishing stone & tile. They also had a number of attractive displays of their cutting blades.
Photo by Diane Taylor

I asked the origins of stone floor tiles and found one importer who featured tiles from Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Italy and China. One of the big pieces of equipment I saw lifts out pieces of quarry marble large enough for multiple countertops.

I saw my first Cement Board and received an explanation from the folks at National Gypsum. I received a lecture on why stone countertops are, in some situations, superior to man-made solid-surface countertops. I looked at adhesives, drilling machines, transporter carts, porcelain wood tiles, rubber flooring, software for estimating projects, etc. I also noted an over-use of the word “luxury”. Lots of “luxury” brands of flooring were on display, but none that claimed to be “not very fancy”.

Pre-show estimated attendance at TISE was 25,000 participants.

Among the niche publications with booths at the show, Floor Trends had an ad that I was glad to read: “If you are reading this, print is not dead. 96% of B2B (business-to-business) professionals still read print magazines.” (A great many talented influencers must work for Floor Trends.)

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