This was the best Surfaces ever—or at least as good or better than the last Surfaces I remember as being stellar and exceptional.
For example, I remember when Surfaces was canceled because of COVID in 2021 and moved to June of that year instead. That show floor was smaller, but the attendees and exhibitors were all like-minded and so very glad to be there … the whole awareness of remembering what normal was like. It was a special moment in time, and everyone breathed deep and was grateful.
Surfaces was always impactful to me for one reason or another, and I’ve been going for two decades now—at least. As for me, I work the show like a job and take as much advantage as I can of the new products, new methods, new ideas and meeting new friends. I usually bring back multiple bags of swag, and make barters for the products the vendors expense away as often as I can. Sometimes I get some really neat stuff that I use right away, and some of it is really neat stuff and I want to keep it new, like a trophy. Examples are really nice work hats with really nifty logos, and small prizes I win for spinning the clicker wheel at a booth. It’s so much fun, and a time to meet old friends I only see once a year but chat with constantly on social media through the year.
After the show is over, I scan all the business cards, flyers, brochures and notes into folders for future use. Utilizing this type of saved info is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat if a client has a challenging visual and you can actually make it happen because you saw it at the show. Some clients wonder why I’m the only one who had the idea, but the idea wasn’t really mine—I just knew about it and passed it on.
Some takeaways also include connecting with mentors I call or text during the year when I have a tough application to manage. With just a push of a few numbers on my phone, experts far more knowledgeable than I pick up and coach me—people who may not have responded so quickly if I had not met them at Surfaces and exchanged business cards and decent conversation for a few minutes.
This year I met three or four Facebook friends I’ve had for years but had never seen face to face. Real pros—men of renown we may have heard of before, like Matt Garcia and T.J. Haas. As a business owner and fanatic for wood floors, this is huge to me. Even though Surfaces has so much beyond wood flooring, it adds to my stature as a flooring contractor. For my part, I also supply the materials, so maybe I can be a retailer, too—certainly a nice badge to tout.
I saw products that reset the standard and saw excitement in the eyes of the men and women who brought their ideas to life and displayed them at the show. There’s a serious focus on buyer behavior, and I refer to this event as the Paris Fashion Show for “us.” Many vendors showcased their new products for the year, and I was on the edge of my seat asking for business cards so I could connect after the show. One notable vendor resurrected a ceramic tile substitute product that had no longer been available in the industry and could be installed with no worries over a raised foundation. This is huge for me; perhaps another product would appeal to each of us just the way I reacted.
Taking classes while there is always a plus, and installers and inspectors can either take classes for continuing education or get tested for certification.
There was so much there, it’ll take me weeks to digest all my new contacts and send out emails of interest.
Four years ago I posted a pic of a marble ring cut from a 1-inch-thick piece of marble by a water jet machine. One of my FB friends wondered at my “child-like” wonder over that marble ring (that they gave me!). It’s this kind of expression that I term a “value,” and I like being a wood floor guy who goes to expos.