For those at the 2013 edition of Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas — held from January 29 to 31 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV — the electricity on the show floor was evident. Hanley Wood, owner of the exhibition, reported a renewed sense of energy and excitement that was apparent in many ways, including the seemingly endless line of attendees waiting to enter the exhibition hall on the opening day of the show. Statistics show attendance shot up 4.3% compared to last year.

“We are very optimistic about the state of the industries we serve after Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas 2013,” said Dana Teague, Group Director of the exhibition. “There was a new and energetic buzz on the show floor that consumed both attendees and exhibitors throughout the duration of the show. We are confident that everyone who was in attendance will find rejuvenated success in 2013.”

With 699 exhibiting companies, this year’s exhibit floor sprawled over 341,419 square feet, which provided an ideal arena for attendees to view thousands of product lines under one roof. While Surfaces welcomed 166 new exhibiting companies, StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas ushered in 38. Attendees hailed from 78 countries and more than 100 exhibiting companies came from key global markets such as Italy, Germany, Spain and Taiwan.

“We sold booth space until the latest possible deadline on Monday, the day before the show started,” said Amie Gilmore, Associate Show Director. “Companies understand the significance of being in the show and how it can impact the future of their business. It is necessary to be at S2 to stay competitive.”

To help attendees and exhibitors navigate the show floor, a Mobile App, sponsored by FCA Network, received a positive response for the second year. The free app allowed attendees to quickly find exhibitors, seminars, speaker information, and more from iPhones, iPads, Androids and Blackberry devices. Users were also able to connect to Facebook and Twitter feeds, hotel/transportation options, local restaurants and more.

Show floor attractions

In addition to the numerous displays of floor covering products, including tile and natural stone, installation and maintenance products, machinery, tooling and accessories, S2 had many other features to draw the interest of attendees. The New Product Marketplace — sponsored by TILE Magazine, Floor Trends and Stone World — returned with a new location in the Bayside Lobby and featured a sampling of the newest products for attendees to browse through before making their way to the manufacturers’ booths for additional information. A new voting process was introduced in 2013, allowing attendees to cast their vote via text message. Surfaces’ Best New Product of 2013 was awarded to Tile Redi for its product, Redi Trench. StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas’ Best New Product of 2013 was awarded to Omni Cubed for its product, Pro-Cart AT2 All-Terrain Countertop Installation Cart.

The S² Theater featured action-packed live product and installation demonstrations which instructed attendees on how to use, sell and install the latest in floor covering products, tools and technologies. Moreover, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) was on hand to explain its new certification program, Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT), which it developed along with the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), International Masonry Institute and National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). Tile Council of North America (TCNA) manufacturer member companies are contributing to development of the modules and tests.

ACT will address four technically challenging installation areas of current importance: large-format tile installation and substrate preparation, mudwork, shower pans and membranes. A specific certification will demonstrate the installer’s skill in each of these four segments. Association leaders provided live demonstrations of the proposed skills test on the show floor.

Tool Alley featured exhibitors showcasing the latest tools and technologies in floor covering installation. In addition, the Tool Alley stage held daily live product demonstrations so attendees could see the tools in action. Chris Grundy, host of DIY Network’s “Cool Tools” was on-hand to assist with the demonstrations on the Tuesday during the show and signed autographs for exhibitors and attendees.

Another celebrity sighting could be found at Crossville Ceramic’s booth, where John Gidding of HGTV’s “Curb Appeal” was stationed to greet and talk with visitors about design trends. Gidding, who was born in Istanbul, attended American schools in Turkey and Switzerland before entering Yale University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in architecture. He also earned a Master’s degree in architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

Educational program

This year’s education program was stocked full of in-depth information and proven strategies to benefit floor covering and stone professionals. With a 20% increase in education session attendance, many of the more than 70 education sessions were filled to capacity with attendees serious about learning the latest information in business, sales/marketing, flooring installation, tile installation, building design and trends, care/maintenance/restoration, sustainability and stone fabrication/installation.

Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas continued to offer the S² Masters Certification program for the second year, allowing education program participants to qualify for a “Master” status in any of the eight tracks offered in the program. Attendees were required to take a minimum of eight hours to receive the certification, which includes a certificate, mention on the show Web site and a ribbon to attach to their badge at next year’s show.

Planning is already in the works for next year’s edition of Surfaces | StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas. Returning to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the exhibition will be held January 28 to 30, 2014, with the conference program beginning on January 27.

Surfaces 2013 Product Review: See Slideshow