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NeoCon East: New innovations, sustainability define the agenda

December 5/12, 2016; Volume 31, Number 13

By Sarah Bousquet

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-05-53-amPhiladelphia—In keeping with its Midwest counterpart, NeoCon East—which took place here recently at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the second year in a row—drew thousands of influential design professionals from the Northeast corridor. The two-day conference and exhibition also provided a platform for roughly 200 exhibitors to showcase their latest products, services and commercial flooring solutions.

“NeoCon East delivered on many fronts, but most importantly it connected the key players in our industry interested in expanding their knowledge and business opportunities,” said Julie Kohl, vice president of exhibitor sales for NeoCon Shows. “With thousands of new products on display, it is in these connections that business happens and market share is won. These relationships are vital to our industry dynamic, and for this reason NeoCon East will continue to gain momentum.”

Exhibitors and attendees alike agreed that relationship building and knowledge sharing continue to be the linchpins of regional shows such as this.

Ralph Grogan, president and CEO of Bentley Mills, explained that the company’s goals this year were two-fold: Highlight new product and network with an entirely new demographic of attendees. “Yes, we are showcasing Lost Angeles as we did at NeoCon earlier this year, but most people here were not in Chicago,” he said. “Philadelphia has a lot going on, and the people here are excited about business and education. I don’t think we lost anyone from Baltimore—NeoCon East’s previous home—and we’ve definitely increased conversations with people from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.”

Others agreed. Karen Ostromecki, interior designer, IIDA, LEED GA, from Rochester, N.Y., thinks of NeoCon East as a “hub for collaboration and learning and a great place to network for future project opportunities.” Being able to view the latest products and trends while conversing with other professionals in the field is critical, she added.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-9-06-30-amIn line with the collaborative theme of this year’s NeoCon East, it was apparent that manufacturers were looking to answer attendees’ requests for new and different solutions. For instance, Procedo Floorings’ Loom+, which is produced by infusing a durable fabric top layer with an LVT bottom layer, received a lot of attention from booth visitors, thanks to its versatility. “Everybody is interested in our loom-woven vinyl flooring because it’s a different product,” said Brent Fike, sales manager. “It looks like—and has—the unlimited design capabilities of a soft surface but provides the durability of an LVT, which has gained interest from the hospitality, corporate and retail segments.”

Patcraft’s Mixed Materials collection drew similar notoriety for its ability to seamlessly use hard and soft surface flooring side-by-side, alone or in multiple combinations. Tara Currier, communications manager, noted the new product is part of a bigger conversation. “We’ve been meeting with the team to talk about well building,” she noted, explaining that designers are increasingly asking how the products they specify effect the way people work, live and interact. “As a manufacturer, we want to be in pace with designers and even ahead of the curve to help them answer these questions with new solutions.”

Several manufacturers also utilized their booth spaces highlight sustainable design options. For example, Shaw Contract discussed big-picture ideas around diversity in design, sustainable processes and healthy living.