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Al's column

COVERINGS UP: Maybe it was the improving economy; maybe it was the show’s return to Florida; maybe it was the abundance of firsts offered. Whatever it was, the 2012 edition of Coverings not only stopped a three-year decline, attendance jumped 19% for the nation’s largest tile and stone show. According to show officials, registration figures climbed above 22,000 and helped make Coverings the success it was. It appeared all segments were up, with the biggest increase going to architects and designers, which saw an 84% spike in attendance, followed by fabricators (up 69%), installers/contractors (up 26%) and distributors (up 16%). While admitting the economic turmoil is far from settled, Karen Fendrich, show director, said, “These numbers are valid indicators the tile and stone industry is in a recovery mode.”

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NO STONE UNTURNED: With the old adage attendance at East Coast shows generally draw greater numbers than those held in the western half of the U.S., Coverings officials say the move back to Florida may have helped figures and are hopeful next year’s staging in Atlanta will prove to be just as beneficial. While Atlanta will be a first for Coverings, this year’s show had plenty of new attractions to help woo attendees, including Coverings Central, a 1,500-square-foot area embracing social media and networking, which featured 18 social media sessions delivered in 15-minute presentations. Another first was Contractor Days, which included a guided tour of top resources on the show floor as well as allowing contractors to meet with company executives they may not normally have experienced by themselves.

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SEPARATE INDUSTRY: Recycling is a major part of the floor covering industry and a key reason why the industry is considered a leader in the overall environmental movement. But, as the recycling side becomes more mature, as is the case with the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), which just wrapped up its 10th anniversary conference (see story on page 5), it is interesting to note how more and more separated it is from the actual flooring industry. In some ways, this could be seen by some of the people who attend the CARE conference over the years, people who, up until CARE came into existence, had little to nothing to do with the flooring industry—collectors and processors of recyclable materials, members of the plastics industry and entrepreneurs, to name a few.

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NUMBERS DON’T LIE: People from different industries being involved in a flooring-related cause may not sway some carpet recycling has morphed into its own, unique business, but consider how the recycling business has compared with carpet sales, specifically during the recession. In 2011, just 1% less carpet was diverted from landfills than 2010, but that is still nearly 28% higher than what was being diverted in 2006 when the majority of the flooring industry reached its high-water mark in sales. And, though the final sales figures are not yet available for what the carpet segment did in 2011, barring some unexpected miracle, chances are they will in no way make up for the nearly 38% drop between 2006 and 2010.

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SAFETY TIME: Did you know May is Building Safety Month? What started out as a week-long celebration and awareness campaign in 1980 has grown into a month-long international event. Presented by the International Code Council it is designed to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create and sustain safe and sustainable structures. What a great opportunity for the flooring industry—nationally and locally—to tie into the event by promoting the various safety aspects of today’s modern floors. Many communities are holding events. Visit icc-foundation.org to learn more.