February 4/11, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 18
By Steven Feldman
So here we are again, adding yet another page to this diary that began 25 years ago. Yes, 25. Silver anniversary. Time does fly. I remember walking around the Sands Convention Center in 1995 like it was yesterday with only two thoughts: Get me the hell out of here, and I can’t go back to the horse racing industry soon enough. Two and a half decades later, you couldn’t pry me from this industry with a crowbar.
Interesting story: The first person I talked to at my Surfaces debut was Michael Raskin. Stumbled upon his booth (it’s a phrase; I was sober) where we got to talking. Turned out the best man at his wedding interned for me at a horse racing magazine in 1986. Totally random. Twenty-five years later Michael was the first person I stumbled upon at Eye Candy the Monday before the show began (not making any sobriety statements this time).
Anyway, it still blows my mind how we prepare for this show for months with such anticipation, and it’s over in a flash. It’s a virtual whirlwind—gym, breakfast meetings, show, cocktail receptions, dinners, late-night meet-ups at Eye Candy. I was even somehow coaxed to exit my comfort zone and go zip-lining. Such are the trials and tribulations of Surfaces week.
So, what were my takeaways from Surfaces, er, TISE? First, SPC, rigid core, SPC, rigid core. Everyone has their own iterations. I saw a bunch putting 1.2mm real wood veneers on top of the core. Many put their own spin on the core. It’s kind of like where we were with laminate in the late 1990s. Hopefully the category will endure and avoid the proverbial race to the bottom.
Next thing: The Surfaces show floor is becoming increasingly populated with Asian companies. Practically all are seeking OEM or private-label business. Many hardly speak English. Here’s a business idea for the Informa folks—provide translators. It can only help business. My business partner, Dustin Aaronson, has been advocating this for years.
What about traffic? Most exhibitors I spoke with felt traffic was off a bit, but the quality of attendee was as good or better than in years past. No one I spoke with felt the impending Domotex USA show had any impact; rather, it was the Shaw Flooring Network event on top of the show and the CCA shows the week before.
As for products, COREtec Stone to me is a home-run product. It may be a category unto itself. It doesn’t compete with anything except stone or ceramic, and it installs at (I’m guessing) half the price and half the time. Piet Dossche, the genius, refuses to rest on his laurels.
For the second year in a row, I was impressed with the Arte Mundi space. Their wood products are truly unique.
The aforementioned Raskin parlayed his fascination with Brooklyn into a namesake collection that drew rave reviews.
Reconnecting: Happy to see old friend Mara Villenueva-Heras, the former VP of marketing at Armstrong, back in the game, taking the same position with Emser just weeks before the show. Along the same lines, good to see another old friend, Jean-Sebastien Roy, stepping in at Preverco, hopefully for the long haul. Last but not least, Keith Wiethe resurfaced at Home Legend; it had been a long time.
Random thoughts: You can always count on Mohawk to make a big splash, and it did not disappoint by closing the show on Thursday with The Band Perry… If Provenza is not on your radar it should be… PR people are an interesting breed—most are assets but some are impediments; just saying... Apologies to Beauflor’s Nick Brown if I harassed him on the treadmill at 6 a.m…. I truly believe Cleo from Congoleum will be a hit… If Eye Candy shut down at midnight I think we’d all be better off… Remember this name: Celeste; no, it’s not a supermodel—it’s a brand you will be hearing about this year… Mannington’s new products always overwhelm... Team Finkell—Don, Allie and Emily Morrow—continue to put their best foot forward with their respective brands… Wickham’s booth was a deserving Best of Surfaces winner… Just when I could tell the difference between Bob Shaw’s identical twin grandkids, Joe and Will Young, they get haircuts… Tip of the week: How do you get through Surfaces in one piece? One word: Prednisone.