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My take: Do you have what it takes to be a judge?

by Steven Feldman

Unless you’re one of those people who read this magazine from the back to the front, by now you are aware of the big news: the Best of Sur- faces awards is cosponsored by FCNews and Hanley Wood, managers of Surfaces.

“What? Another awards program?” you may ask. Yes and no. The yes is “awards program.” The no is “another.”

While the Best of Surfaces will launch at Surfaces 2012 in Las Vegas from Jan. 24 to 26, this is something that has been on our radar for a few years. I’ve always been enamored with the Best of NeoCon program staged by Contract magazine and the Merchandise Mart, particularly how the manufacturers not only value a victory but also the mileage they get out of it. Countless companies refer to their products as a Best of NeoCon winner, and they are just as elated to win a silver as they are a gold.

We are expecting the Best of Surfaces awards to have similar value in short order. In fact, we believe these awards will become the benchmark of product and program success at this industry’s most important trade show. Here’s why:

1. The name says it all: Best of Surfaces.

2. Unlike other Surfaces-staged recognition programs, there is no cost to enter.

3. The winners will be recognized at the show as opposed to many months after. This provides even more value to the exhibitors who can showcase their recognized products on the spot.

4. Rather than segment the awards by product category, we came up with true measures of excellence: Innovation, Style & Design, Sustainability and Technology. And because this awards program surrounds Surfaces, why not recognize the best booths—large and small.

We are certain the winners will use their recognition in marketing efforts throughout the year as they seek to separate themselves from the masses.

But there’s one thing I’m leaving out, something imperative to making Best of Surfaces a success: you. Taking a page from the Best of NeoCon awards, we must form panels of judges for each category. But instead of architects and designers, we will need retailers. But not just any retailers.

First, you have to be attending Surfaces. Second, you must be willing to evaluate some of the submissions in the six weeks leading up to the show. Third, you must play well with others, meaning you will need to share your thoughts with other members of the panel. And most importantly, you must have a desire to help the most deserving floor covering companies gain their due recognition.

Here’s how I envision this working: After we decide the category for which you will be voting, you and your peers will determine the criteria. You will then receive information on each of the entries. There’s a good chance you may not know the manufacturer in order to maintain a level playing field. The respective panels will then come up with their finalists, which they will view on site on day one at Surfaces. They will have the opportunity to visit booths and ask any questions. By Tuesday afternoon, they will have informed FCNews and Hanley Wood of their choice.

Aside from the recognition of being a Best of Surfaces judge, we are still discussing other tokens of our appreciation. As I mentioned, much of the Best of Surfaces success hinges on your willingness to participate.

Those interested in judging Best of Surfaces can contact me at steve@fcnews .net. I’m hoping you prove to be as excited about this as we are at FCNews and Hanley Wood.