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More exhibitors, education in store for Wood Expo

HGTV’s “Cousins on Call” stars John Colaneri, left, and Anthony Carrino will address wood trends when they host the Expo’s Award Luncheon.

By Matthew Spieler

Volume 26/Number 22; March 18/25, 2013

St. Louis—Anyone wondering whether the wood flooring industry is recovering from the recession needn’t look any further than the upcoming Wood Floor Expo by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA). Set for April 2 to 5 in Dallas, the show is projected to have more exhibitors, more attendees and more educational opportunities than years past.

Last year’s Expo was recognized as one of the 50 fastest-growing shows in 2012 by Trade Show Executive (TSE), qualifying in all three categories—Net Square Feet of Exhibit Space, Number of Exhibiting Companies and Total Attendance.

“It was clear from the feedback that NWFA provided a strong return on investment,” said Michael Martin, NWFA’s president and CEO. “We look forward to exceeding the expectation in 2013.”

Martin noted attendees will have even more from which to choose as nearly 80 booths have been added—even after the 100 additions in 2012—along with a host of educational and networking opportunities, including appearances by Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri, stars of HGTV’s “Cousins on Call” (formerly “Kitchen Cousins”). And, at press time, attendee registration is ahead of last year, which saw a 30% increase over 2011.

“Our efforts have focused on rebuilding the show and bringing significant value to our attendees and exhibitors,” Martin told FCNews. “Our objective is to bring our attendees more products and services under one roof to help them grow and improve their businesses while bringing our exhibitors a very targeted and motivated audience.”

Consequently, the show will host more than two dozen educational sessions divided along four tracks—management, marketing, technical and CEUs for architects and designers who are approved for continuing education credits through the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC). AIA certifies CEUs for professional architects, while IDCEC does the same for professional designers.

The CEU-approved courses are “Back to Basics – Wood Flooring 101,” providing information about the characteristics of hardwood and the different types of wood flooring available; “It’s Not Easy Being Green—Sustainability of Wood,” exploring the green attributes of wood flooring and green building programs; “This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Floor—Ornamental Wood Floors,” exploring the decorative design options available with wood floors such as borders, medallions, hand-scraping and mixed media, and “Beauty is More Than Skin Deep—Maintaining & Refinishing Wood Floors,” presenting the importance of maintenance in the specification process, as well as the refinishing options available for hardwood floors.

Architects and designers can attend all four sessions as well as the trade show at no cost.

Martin explained the CEU courses will become part of the new NWFA CEU library and will be available to association members for use as a marketing tool in their local areas. “The library will eventually offer a multitude of CEUs covering a broad range of wood flooring topics at various skill levels.”

Beyond the individual seminars, of which there are approximately two dozen scheduled, the opening general session on Wednesday, April 3, will feature Howard Putnam, former CEO of Southwest Airlines. Putnam will discuss the rise of Southwest from a small regional carrier to a major industry leader and the important role customer service played.

Day 2’s general session, “Coming Out of the Woods— Industry Issues, Trends & Forecast,” will feature a panel discussion of industry editors and publishers, including Steve Feldman of Floor Covering News. HGTV’s Carrino and Colaneri will host the Awards Luncheon on Thursday and address wood flooring trends in modern design. They will also present the Wood Floor of the Year Awards along with other NWFA honors including Community Service and Industry Leadership.

“In the past, our speakers have been mostly prominent athletes, but our attendees told us they wanted to hear about ways to make their businesses more successful, so we’ve made a concerted effort to change our keynotes,” Martin said.

Other learning opportunities will also prevail. The exhibit hall will host demonstrations on the latest tools, equipment and products at the Demo Theater and Exhibitor Demo Stage.

The Demo Theater will feature an all-star group of wood flooring experts showing attendees how to take their skills to the next level through a series of 45-minute workshops. Topics include tricks of the trade for prefinished repairs, handling moisture testing with OSB, prepping a floor for stain and setting up the edger. The Exhibitor Demo Stage will give manufacturers the opportunity to showcase their products in a live setting.

Two supplementary educational events are planned for the final day. Both full-day affairs run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the Field Equipment Repair workshop, a popular session will cover the care and maintenance of field equipment, the basics of diagnostics and on-site repair. It will be offered in both English and Spanish. The NWFACP Inspector Symposium is broken into two tracks for inspectors and industry professionals covering topics ranging from moisture issues to inspection procedures.

Networking opportunities will also be available for attendees, including the opening and closing receptions as well as the awards luncheon, and once again a host of prizes will be given away. To tie in the appearance of Carrino and Colaneri, “Our big giveaway is a kitchen vs. man cave makeover,” Martin said.

Last year, he added, more than $50,000 in prizes donated by exhibitors were given away and this year is “shaping to be even bigger.”

To learn more about this year’s NWFA Wood Flooring Expo, call 800.422.4556 or visit nwfaexpo.org