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Coverings: Ceramic segment invigorated with innovation, style

ORLANDO, FLA.—The use of state-of-the-art technology to create innovative products has become standard practice in ceramic tile. And late last month Coverings 2010 served as the industry’s showplace for innovation, texture, style, color and education.

“We felt the momentum, energy and buzz of a show that, much like the world, is coming back from a really tough 2009,” said Jennifer Hoff, president of National Trade Productions (NTP), manager of Coverings. “We had many new programs we believe helped do that. The show was up 5% in attendance with 23,500 attendees, and up [about the same amount] in space as well.”

In a sign that the economy might be finally beginning to rebound, there were nearly 160 new exhibitors at this year’s show. “The fact that the number of first-time exhibitors nearly quadrupled from last year is irrefutable evidence that the show is an invaluable opportunity for both exhibitors and attendees.”

One of the programs Hoff Americana, “captures the warmth of its coasts, the romance of its rolling hills and the grandeur of its mountain ranges,” Lyza said. A moderate-priced porcelain stone tile in four colors and a variety of sizes, this series was designed for commercial and residential applications. Another hot product for the company was its UltiMetal collection, which was voted a Coverings Select winner for porcelain/ceramic tile floor.

At Stonepeak, a Select winner for porcelain/ceramic tile floor with its Caesar collection, technical director Noah Chitty noted how the company’s patented Active clean air and antibacterial ceramic technology exemplifies StonePeak’s commitment to a healthier environment. “Active facilitates a photocatalytic reaction to remove pollutants from the air and eliminate bacteria on the surface of the tile. We launched it last year, and people are asking more questions about it. It’s good to see people show a genuine interest in the technology, trying to decide where it has applications. They see it as a path they can now take.”

Focus on education

Returning to Coverings for the third year was the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) certification program, an intensive four-and-a-half day series for professional installers that included hands-on skills testing and the industry’s only standards based accreditation. CTEF executive director Scott Carothers led a session called, “It Pays to Be Certified,” and was joined by several program graduates who discussed their experiences.

Other sessions of interest for distributors and retailers included “Forecasting the U.S. Ceramic Tile Market,” an in-depth look at where the industry is headed in 2010 from Coverings veteran Donato Grosser; “Trends in Tile and Stone for Retail Work,” an overview of the emerging trends in the use of tile and stone in retail design, and “Marketing in a Recession 101,” a three-hour workshop that offered real solutions for gaining a competitive edge in today’s economy.

-Louis Iannaco