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Educating the Flooring, Stone and Tile Industry: Surfaces 2013

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Wed, Apr 04, 2012

This is a 4 minute read.

Surfaces Education Advisory Board 2012Have you ever wondered what goes into developing the Education Program for Surfaces, the leading floor covering industry event, and StonExpo, the largest natural stone trade event in North America? 

I'm here to tell you that determining the focus for educating the flooring, stone and tile industry is an intense, yet exhiliarating, process that takes place once a year at the Hanley Wood offices in Dallas, TX.

The members of the Surfaces and StonExpo Education Advisory Council represent the flooring, stone and tile industry from a range of professional disciplines. We also care passionately about our areas of expertise and bring that perspective to the discussions.

What made this year's session different is that the Surfaces and StonExpo councils remained as one group for the entire meeting. Both sides gained new appreciation for what the other offered.

I invited several fellow council members to share with me perspectives on the meeting.  More specifically, Steve Feldman, Publisher/Editorial Director of Floor Covering News, Mark Woodman, owner of mark woodman design & color and president of Color Marketing Group, and Tiffany Aryeh from Amalfi Stone and Masonry Company. Their responses follow.

C.B.: What did you find most interesting about this Surfaces/StonExpo Education Advisory Council experience?

Steve Feldman: What I found most interesting was the diversity of the Council and as such, the diversity of ideas. It was also interesting to witness the broad array of knowledge and passion in that room. Surfaces did a good job of putting together a panel of experts that know their industry inside and out.

Mark Woodman: Hmmm, "invigorating" is the word I would choose. I was reminded of the dynamics of large shows and how much I like the behind the scenes as well as the up front work. Just being able to focus, experience and share make for a great day!

Tiffany Aryeh: The two day council was eye opening, engaging and beyond educational. The members of the council were the most interesting and exciting part of my experience. Industry leaders from around the country representing Nebraska, Virginia, California, Ohio to name a few, gave fresh perspective on the topics and key issues facing their local markets. The council was a representative melting pot of the American stone and floor surfaces industry professional.

C.B.: What was you biggest surprise?

Steve Feldman: My biggest surprise was learning how the stone side supports the education program almost twice as much as the Surfaces side. We all have to work to change that.

Mark Woodman: How in sync the stone industry is. Not that I thought they were disjointed, I just never realized how well they meshed and supported one another.

Tiffany Aryeh: Social media might just might be the answer! I, like most, have been overwhelmed by the buzz of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn... how will these tools help my business? These platforms are ways to share industry news, network with professionals and give exposure to your business. I agree that there is an overload of cyber information, but when these tools are used correctly it can bring value to your marketing goals.

C.B.: What is the most exciting trend that the flooring, stone and tile industry faces?

Steve Feldman: I actually think the most exciting trend involves social media and the new ways in which companies can market themselves and gain exposure.

Mark Woodman: Rapid customization of product. Especially laminates and manufactured (as opposed to natural) materials.

Tiffany Aryeh: An exciting trend in our industry is to promote and use American products. The US quarries some of the most popular granites, limestones, marbles being used in today's marketplace. To elevate these local products to national and international acclaim is an important trend to follow.

C.B.: What should Surfaces/StonExpo 2013 attendees absolutely not miss doing and why?

Steve Feldman: Honestly, I think attendees should not miss the free medical screening as part of FCIF booth. If you don't have your health, you don't have anything, and in this day and age of time-starved businesspeople who do not get to the doctor anywhere near as much as they should, this is a good way to check the vitals -- blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. The price is right and it could actually save your life.

Mark Woodman: Attendees need to move beyond their comfort zones. Even if you're not an installer or fabricator, it's good to know the breadth of tools involved. It helps to understand the investment by the professionals, the costs involved and can help you explain that to customers/clients. Quality is not cheap but it has endless value!

Tiffany Aryeh: The show is an exciting time to see new products, materials and machinery. A must see are MIA's Pinnacle Awarding winning projects, these projects represent the best use of natural stone in residential and commercial projects domestically and overseas. Attendees must sign up for educational session in topics ranging in social media, color trends and forum discussions by industry leaders. Finally, talk to everyone! Take every opportunity to network and speak with exhibitors and fellow attendees. You will learn so much about the industry.

C.B.: Thank you, Steve, Mark and Tiffany for sharing perspectives on the process of planning for the Surfaces and StonExpo 2013 Education Program.

What are you counting on learning about at Surfaces 2013? Which demonstrations will you absolutely make sure to attend at StonExpo?

Previous articles about the Surfaces Education Advisory Process:

Topics: Floor Covering marketing

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