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Registered attendance jumped to nearly 37,000 for the four-day Coverings 2007 tile and stone exposition and conference, which was held at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, IL, from April 17 to 20, representing an increase of 8% over last year. The sharpest spike in attendance numbers was among architects and designers, which was up a dramatic 87%, according to show management. With almost half (49%) of all guests acknowledging they were first-time Coverings attendees, plus a shift in regional patterns that pulled in more show goers than ever before from the East North Central, Mountain and Pacific West states, Coverings exceeded its goals to expand to new audiences whose interests are in tile and stone, according to show management.
"Coverings attendance has been steadily on the rise over the past four years, growing 30.3% in this period," reported Tamara Christian, CEO of National Trade Productions (NTP), which manages the show. "Tile and stone are emerging as fashion statements in design. And, though housing has slowed, home improvement hasn't, and consumers are clamoring for the types of style and individuality that these materials can create. The demand is there."
Additionally, other of Coverings' attendance figures confirm this, as well.
- Retailer attendance was up 17%.
- Contractor attendance was up 22%.
- Stone distributor attendance was up nearly 8%.
- Attendance was up 48% from the East North Central region; up 28% from the Pacific West; 22% from Mountain states.
The success of Coverings 2007 was the outcome of strategic planning that began even before the 2006 show had wrapped up, according to NTP. The support and sponsorship from all of the key professional associations was almost immediately engaged from the outset, and they actively promoted the show to their members. Some groups even staged board meetings onsite at Coverings as a value-added benefit to their members.
The exhibitionThe exhibition The show occupied 500,000 net square feet at Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center, occupying the South and North Halls. The exhibit halls featured more than 1,200 exhibitors, showcasing the newest and most innovative tile and stone products from around the world. In addition to tile and stone products, exhibitors offered a range of stoneworking machinery and accessories, stone care and maintenance products, stone handling equipment, digital templating systems and more. In addition to individual companies, many countries were represented in national pavilions of stone products. Past national pavilions have included Italy, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, China and Israel, among others. Although many of the large-scale exhibits were ceramic tile producers, one of the major stone companies took home the grand prize for the "Best in Show" booth award. Antolini Luigi & C. of Italy showcased its stone materials and offered a sense of mystery with its "box in basic black." Black walls framed slabs of semi-precious and rare stones, and stone "eggs" were set in a continuous niche around the booth's exterior perimeter.
In the past, the caliber of conferences and seminar sessions orchestrated by Coverings has scored high with all segments of the industry, and this year's lineup was no different, with several of the headliners addressing standing-room-only audiences. The keynote address delivered by Bernard M. Markstein, III, director of forecasting and assistant staff vice president, National Association of Home Builders, sounded cautionary about the housing slowdown, but held out a small bit of optimism for the tile industry because of the flurry of home improvement in the kitchen and bath sectors.
Furthermore, acclaimed architect Richard Meier took the audience through a tour of his various landmark projects. And, trends forecaster Maxine Lauer packed them in, as she shed light on what is driving some of the styles that were visible on the aisles and what may be coming in 2008 and beyond.
Additionally, there were a number of savvy regional distributors, including Miles Distributing of South Bend, IN, and United Flooring Distributors of Rockville, IL, who not only encouraged their clients to make the trek, but organized bus caravans to get them there and make it a full-day experience. These two groups swelled the attendance figures alone by almost 1,000.
Mayor Richard M. Daley personally presided over the opening day ceremony, along with the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau and other local agencies pulling out all the stops to make sure attendees felt welcome and their business appreciated. In fact, Coverings business most definitely was appreciated, representing approximately $46 million in revenues for the City of Chicago.
"We've been coming to Coverings for the past 10 years," said Tom Evans, owner of Zebra Tile, a retailer based in York, PA. "Most of the distributors we work with have booths at this show, so we see them and pick out our new selections for the year. For me, attending Coverings changed my business. Coming here keeps you in touch with the industry. If you stay home, that's all the knowledge you're ever going to get."
Michelle Engleman and Erin Blakely of 21st Century Tile are interior design partners and wholesale distributors in Butler, WI. This was their first Coverings, and they both agreed they would now consider going to Orlando. They attended a LEED conference session, which they found a success. "Learning about LEED and then finding an exhibitor who sells tiles that met all the criteria was very exciting," said Engleman. "Coming here, we learned what's new, what's out there and what we're missing from our showroom."
Many echoed the feelings of Bert Thomas, owner of Straightline Floor Coverings, Fishers, IN, also a freshman attendee. Even though his contractor business is only three hours away from Chicago, he was so impressed with what he saw at the show, he's already considering going to Orlando next year. "Now that we've been here once, we would definitely think about going to Orlando," he said.
Next year, Coverings is set to take place from April 29 to May 2, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.
Chicago stone contractor wins Harley
"I was so surprised. I've never won anything in my life!" said Hinshaw, owner of Insignia Stone in Lenox Hills, IL. "I'm a motorcycle enthusiast and I already own two Harleys --this new bike is a great addition to my collection. I can't wait to take a ride on it!"
Hinshaw was excited to attend Coverings again this year, and was especially happy to see it return to Chicago after a 15-year absence. "I was thrilled that the show was right in my own backyard this time around," he said. "Coverings is a terrific show unlike any other. The networking opportunities that Coverings offers can't be beat -- from the show floor to the free educational sessions to the after-hours events. Attending the show is indispensable to my business. This year in particular, I gained many contacts that will benefit my company tremendously. I'm looking forward to attending again next year in Orlando."
According to Coverings show management, the motorcycle drawing attracted approximately 10,000 entries.
Coverings continues to foster charitable efforts
"The response and involvement of so many of the 1,200 Coverings exhibitors to Tile Partners for Humanity is exceedingly generous," said Tamara Christian, CEO of National Trade Productions, which manages and produces the annual expo and conference. "We've heard from our exhibitors that this is a program they heartily endorse because they feel they can say thank you to the Coverings host community in a most unique and meaningful way. Typically, exhibitors bring much more merchandise to the show as a precaution in case of damage during shipping, lost deliveries, display revisions or just to be sure they have plenty of options on hand. While it may start out as 'excess,' it doesn't go to waste, thanks to the true partnership forged by TPFH and the companies who exhibit."
"Coverings exhibitors are amazing partners to us, and we are extremely grateful for all they contribute," said Ally Fertitta, executive director of TPFH. "This year we received whole floors, plus significant amounts of granite and marble. The community of Chicago is the richer for having Coverings return for many reasons, and this generous contribution to Habitat for Humanity definitely is one of them."
Fertitta estimates that in the four years Coverings has teamed with TPFH, materials valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars have been contributed and scores of families now have a permanent well-constructed home and roof over their heads.
Touring the exhibit halls of Coverings 2007
Ancor -- highlighted a range of new sizes of material now available for fabrication
Andrade -- Imperial Coffee granite from the company's own quarries, which has a consistent brown color with black accents; Surreal, which has waves of light and dark blue and is also extracted from the company's own quarries
Antolini Luigi -- an array of exotic stone products quarried in sites around the world, including Grande Fossile marble -- a unique material consisting of shades of green and brown and distinguished by embedded fossils
Bermarmol -- a complete line of natural stone products offered in a variety of finishes, including polished, honed and antiqued
Bestview International -- introduced a new mosaic and glass tile line; highlighted the Classico Collection
B.M.S. & Co. S.R.L. -- Fenice granite with a textured finish -- a stone exhibiting a blend of light brown and beige accented with darker flecks of brown that was named after an opera house in Italy
Campolonghi Italia -- Green Peace quartzite from Brazil, which features a dark green color and a dense and compact pattern; the material has a low rate of absorption that is similar to granite
Chengdu Zaijian -- Lava Tile, the new product line of Zaijain Mosaic, uses natural lava stone as its base, and is offered in more than 20 colors as well as tile formats of 30 x 30 and 30 x 60 cm; the texture of the natural lava stone gives the tile a unique vibrant finish
Cosentino -- the SenSa granite collection, which features slabs that are not only treated with resin products, but the material also undergoes a proprietary "SenGuard process" to protect the granite from staining; the material also carries a 15-year warranty.
Cremar -- displayed a range of Brazilian granite, including a new color called Emperor granite, which is brown with white veining
Dimpomar -- showcased new flooring tiles called Crème de MÅs, a cream-colored stone with a brushed finish
Etna -- a new shade of Bordeaux granite from Brazil, which has a red/rust shade
Gem Granites -- introduced a range of new products, including Platinum Pearl, Forrest Yellow, New Vyara, Diamond White and PP4 Dark (black granite)
Gramil -- Luz fel Fuego quartzite, which has a brown/tan color with dark brown accents
Granitex -- displayed the Africa range of stones, which included Ivory Coast, Oxford Gold, Mystery White and Sage Brush; as well as the Brazil range, including Golden Persa, Bianco Napoleone, Stone River, Giallo Florence and Brown Tobacco
Granitexport -- Polar Black granite -- a unique stone featuring swirls of black, midnight blue and a lighter-colored blue that is quarried at the North Pole
Grein -- Jurassic, which has a rich yellow color with strong black accents
Henraux -- a broad selection of exotic marble and granite from around the world such as Fossile Nero marble consisting of a dark field with very large fossil prints running through it in shades of light gray, and Fantasy Tropical granite that features swirls of light green and brown shades
Hindustan Granites -- introduced several new granite materials, including Golden Lava, Millennium Gold, New England Fantasy, Green soapstone, Neo Classico honed and Silver Quartz; also distributed a new brochure
International Italmarmi -- Sodalite Blue, which is quarried in the Bolivian Andes at 3,800 meters and has a high technical resistance; available in slabs, tiles and cut-to-size pieces for interior cladding and flooring; the deep blue color of the stone varies from piece to piece; also offered white onyx
Itapoama -- Delicatus Supremo from Brazil, which has a gold field with black veining
Jacigua -- Desire granite from Brazil, which has a bright golden color with dark gold accents
Jerusalem Gold -- offered a range of Jerusalem Gold materials, including a new shade named Grey Gold
JMS -- offered a full line of German stone, including Jura and German Green limestone
La Ponte -- Juparana Dream, which has a deep gold color with distinctive patterning of brown and black waves
Levantina -- displayed a range of new materials, which are available from the company's vast granite and marble collections, as well as offering solid surface solutions
Madhucon Granites Ltd. -- a range of Indian stones, including Colonial Gold, which is yellowish with subtle hints of white and dark brown specks
MagBan -- Meteorus from Brazil, which has a black surface with distinctive fossilization patterns and can be used in a variety of finishes, including brushed
Mahi -- Giallo Arctic granite from the company's own quarries, which features a light gold tone with black accents
Marble Systems -- Avalon Stone collections, Glacier Harmony
Marbrasa -- Red Bahia, which has a rich, deep tone and is quarried in the same region of Brazil and Blue Bahia; also, Gaya, which has a light green tone
Marcolini Marmi -- Namibian Gold, which has alternating waves of light and dark gold with tan accents
Marmalero Galraos -- a variety of stone, including Moca Crème, Crème Moleanos, Travertino Rural, Al Penina, Picasso, Estremoz White
Marmoleria Gallos -- Casatta travertine from Peru, which is distinguished by alternating waves of light cream and a darker tan
Marmi Bruno Zanet -- Mascarello granite from Brazil, which has a deep golden color with black accents
Marmocil -- Caju, which has a mottled appearance of gold, yellow and gray with a large-scaled vening pattern
Marmonil -- Sunny marble from Egypt, which has a light golden color with accents of dark brown, available in polished and honed finishes
Michelangelo -- Sea Foam Green granite, which is well-known throughout the world and has shades of light and dark green, with black accents
Mosaico Italiano -- introduced its nature-inspired Kiwaju Collection, which is composed entirely of 100% onyx showcased in an exotic color palette of deep reddish copper, vivacious golden honey, soft snowy white and glossy ivy green; the collection is complete with over 16 mosaic patterns, artistic borders, moldings and bevel sinks
MS International -- introduced 50 new exotic materials, and it is stocking 250 colors in all; a full series of mosaics, including field tile to cover entire walls as well as moldings
Norstone -- showcased a full range of Brazilian soapstone slabs as well as slate tiles, including a multi-color variety
P & L Marble -- showcased a vast variety of natural stone products from China, which offer form, function and fusion, according to the company
Pemagran -- X-Terra, which has a very unique, mottled pattern of light brown and cream
Pokarna Granites Ltd. -- introduced Estusca and Verde Fantastic, which is granite material from Iran that is green with white and black veining
Polycor -- presented a full line of stone from Canada, including Cambrian Black and Caledonia granite, as well as white marble from its quarries in Georgia and Colorado
RMG Stone -- Woodland JadeTM (green) and Mountain PlumTM (purple) slate from its new quarry site in Vermont
SAB Co. -- Ivory Gold marble, a precious stone with shades of cream, gray and white
Santa Clara -- Constellation Blue, which has gray and maroon accents
Santucci -- Hollywood quartzite, which has a light maroon color with black and gray accents
Sinai International -- displayed a collection of stone materials, including Arish Gold marble, Sunny Medium marble and Isis Cream marble, which looks similar to Crema Marfil
Tekmar -- Crema Favorita marble from Turkey,
Tracomal -- Dakota Brown, which has a rich brown color with smaller brown/copper accents as well as gray and white accents
Universal Granite & Marble -- showcased its new Elite Collection, featuring a wide selection of unique and colorful stones such as African Ivory, Green Ice and Niagra Gold; also displayed a line of Quarella quartz-based marble
Vermont Quarries -- new production of 12- and 18-inch tiles; 2-cm and 3-cm slab sales now available for the U.S. market; Mountain White Danby, one of the most historic materials from the company's Danby Collection
Walker Zanger -- an assortment of high-end stone and tile products suited for numerous residential and commercial applications
World Wide Stone -- Blanco Tuscano travertine from Mexico, which is available in polished, honed and filled finishes and has very little void; also displayed new decorative pieces of DuragoTM Stone in chevron, pinwheel and bar patterns
Fabricating Equipment and Supplies
AGM/Intermac -- the Intermac Master 33 CNC stoneworking center from Italy, which can be configured for a diverse range of work environments
Alpha Professional Tools -- the Twincur GB abarsive, which was specially developed to polish bullnose edges of granite using automated edge-polishing machinery
Amerisink -- displayed its Legend line, Deluxe line, Builder line and Economy line of stainless steel sinks, as well as porcelain options; also displayed sink accessories such as strainers, pop-up drains and over flow kits
Artisan Manufacturing Corp. -- a full range of 16-gauge stainless steel sinks; faucets and porcelain undermounts
Beckart Environmental -- displayed the Beckart s Hy-Packfi recessed plate Filter Press systems; all the company's filter presses are designed, engineered and manufactured in-house
Blick Industries/Innovative Stone -- exhibited the Proliner 8 digital templating system, which offers CAD on board transfer files via USB drive
Braxton-Bragg Corp. -- distributed its first full-color catalog; highlighted its Radial Arm Machine (RAM), which is designed to create sink cut outs with minimal time and effort; also displayed 16- and 18-inch gauge stainless steel sinks
Breton -- the CombiCut, a combination bridge saw/waterjet that offers the speed of a bridge saw and the versatility of a waterjet
Calypso -- introduced a new Water Recycling System and Chilling System, an integrated water recycling and abrasive removal system.
Cemar Electro Inc. -- the Leica DISTO, the innovative hand-held laser meter for fast and easy distance measurements of length, squares and volumes with the press of a button
CMS North America/Brembana -- the Maxima 5-axis CNC machine, which can process countertops as well as three-dimensional architectural work
Diamant Boart -- the Freecut Ultra, which uses JT-5 technology with a quality diamond-and-metal matrix as well as an increased diamond-to-metal ratio
ETemplate Systems -- promoted the release of a Version 2.3 of its electronic templating system, which has exclusive preview and parametric abilities
F. Barkow -- introduced a new 24-foot Backsplash Caddy, which can hold up to three slabs at a time, and can attach to the back of a van or pickup truck
Edgemarc -- Edgemarc 2500 HT bridge saw with a spinning table that spins in both directions with pneumatic locks for all square positions as well as any position
Fabricator's Choice -- a range of equipment for fabrication shops such as the EurovacTM Dust Extraction Systems and a full line of Löffler machinery, including the LBZ CNC with twin table, the TB series bridge saws and edge processors
Flow International -- introduced the HyperPressureTM 87,000 psi machine, which offers a 45% increase in pressure from traditional 60,000 psi ultrahigh-pressure systems; at 87,000 psi the waterjet velocity increases beyond Mach 3 -- creating a faster, more powerful cutting tool for any material; HyperPressure technology, only from Flow, allows for faster cuts, increased production and lower operating costs
Galaxy Tool Supply -- exhibited new Sniper 4-inch 5-step polishing pads as well as Sniper electroplated marble blades
Global E-Sourcing -- visualization module and order preview solutions that provide the ability to store digital images of each slab and renders the assembled countertop in real time as workpieces are moved around the slab; highlighted new Web portal and Web site tools, including 3D Edge Rendering, which were added to its Global StonePro software suite
Granite City Tool -- Sullivan Palatek rotary screw air compressors for stone fabrication shops, available with 75- and 100-hp motors
GranQuartz -- introduced a variety of new products, including a Manzelli double-sided vacuum lifter, a Diarex® Autolifting Dolly, a wet/dry "dustless" VAC, Magnum II portable dust collector, Aardwolf Remote Control Lifter, Diarex® Cyclone filtration system
Groves Inc. -- displayed new adjustable worktables and 1 cubic yard dumpsters as well as new heavy-duty bundle racks
IGE Solutions -- introduced Triopt, a new software solution for the stone industry.
International Machine Corp. -- announced that it now offers a service where company employees will break down a fabrication shop and deliver new machinery to a new shop
Italidiamant -- introduced the TNT, which cuts material fast and thanks to the Sandwich type segments, it lasts longer with straight cuts; available in 14- and 16-inch blades, features different configuration of diamonds
Laser Products -- the LT-55 Precision Laser Templator, which offers precision laser measuring in real time, and provides field measurements in .dxf format with multi-color and multi-plane files, while offering low operating costs in the field and at the shop
Marmo Machinery USA -- exhibited a new machine called the LTV 621, which comes with six polishing heads, two bevellers, a central drainage point, two extension tables, and micro-oscillation
MC Mitsubishi -- the Classica, a 2-3 axis waterjet
Midas Stone Machinery -- introduced the Tempest CNC machine, which is ideal for small sink cutouts
Moraware -- introduced the 2.2 version of job management software, which is easier to operate, according to the company
Northwood -- the Smart Tool System (STS), a modular, automatic tool carousel and software program that provides a scalable, autonomous system for the storage and delivery of tools to a machine tool spindle on a Northwood CNC machine tool or router; the STS system includes detachable racks or carousels that can be stored offline in a stand or cart, with each rack representing a tool profile set and containing an automatic means for home tool position recognition and automatic profile set identification.
Nelson Wood Shims -- showcased floor shims for use during installations.
Omax® -- showcased its Fabricator JetCutting Center to demonstrate how the latest waterjet innovations can benefit those working with stone and tile; machine is designed specifically to support large-format cutting in stone fabrication shops
Park Industries -- unveiled the Titan CNC machine, which has a 20-hp, 1,000-rpm spindle and a 158- x 96-inch work envelope; the machine sits only 16 inches off the floor for easier loading and unloading
Regent Stone Products - the CnCut C3, a milling and engraving machine designed to make accurate cuts in slabs to accommodate sinks and cooktops; the entire process is run from an integrated PC Windows control panel
Salem Stone -- Brio, a new generation type bridge saw from GMM that features a 180-degree rotating head; Fraccaroli & Balzan compact water treatment unit -- a cost-effective, simple-to-use solids separator
Sommer & Maca Industries, Inc. -- introduced EdgeRight® profiling wheels and the portable Edgeright® bullnosing bench, which can be used for dry or wet polishing
Stone Boss -- offering a new catalog specifically focusing on its latest line-up of CNC machines
Stoneworks of Art -- introduced a new line of panels with translucent backing to allow for light to shine through; also introduced new lightweight Trimstone™ natural stone panels, which are natural stone pieces in a 3/8-inch thickness
Superabrasive Inc. -- launched its new line of Toro-B™ disks for marble and granite, which are ideal for automated edge shaping and wet polishing; it is a multi-head machine that uses the snail lock adapter
U.S. Granite Machinery -- displayed its cutting edge solutions for fabrication needs for granite, marble and engineered stones, including bridge saws and CNC stoneworking centers, among others
VMC Technical Assistance Corp -- Tracker 17, a durable and economical polishing and grinding machine that is ideal for residential and commercial grinding and polishing jobs up 5,000 square feet; Tracker 803, a high-production grinding and polishing machine that will grind and polish both wet and dry
Vytek Industrial Laser Systems -- L-Star laser system and Laser System Special F/X2 L-Star laser system and Laser System Special F/X2
Water Treatment Technologies -- in addition to the EnviroSystem, which recycles water to a "crystal clear" level, the company has developed the Gray-Tech, an efficient gray water filtration system
Z. Bavelloni -- showcased the Taurus 02 straight line polishing machine, which is available with 6,8 or 10 polish heads; it produces finished, polished stone at up to 160 feet per hour
Installation and Maintenance Products
Akemi -- Akelux stone repair kit; new single-mix epoxy cartridge
Aqua Mix -- introduced NanoScrub™ with NanoSTG™ -- a versatile, convenient product that has the safety of a water-based formula with stone-tile-grout technology; also displayed Ex-Treme™ cleaner, which as the power to clean tough outdoor contaminants from stone, tile, masonry and concrete surface in a much safer formula, according to the company
Bellinzoni -- new Stone Poxy setting compound with a 5- to 12-hour setting time -- making it ideal for large areas; can be used inside or out
Custom Building Products -- RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane, a water-based, easy-to-use, elastomeric membrane that produces a continuous moisture barrier with superb adhesion; Crack Buster™ Pro, designed to prevent crack transmission in ceramic tile or stone floors in high traffic; EasyMat™ with SoundGard® Technology, a lightweight mat underlayment; Prism™ SureColor® Grout with CustomLite™ Technology.
Dry Treat -- offered Dry-Treat Stain-Proof, an impregnating, invisible and breathable sealer that protects exposed natural stone, tiles, pavers, concrete and grout from damage caused by water, salts and oil-based stains; treated indoor and outdoor surfaces become easier to clean, maintain and keep looking good for longer, reports the company
Fila -- Fila Surfit penetrating sealer, which is VOC free; the Fila Marble Restorer Kit, which has the products as well as the pads to fixe etching on polishing marbles
HMK -- new and improved S32 water-based impregnator, which is solvent free and environmentally safe; introduced P1 -- a 3-in-1 do-it-yourself home cleaner
Laticrete International -- Hydro Ban, a thin load-bearing waterproof and anti-fracture membrane that does not require the use of fabric in the field; FahrenHeat -- offers an exclusive self-adhesive mesh and wire backing -- allowing for faster and easier installation, reports the company
Miracle Sealants -- custom-packaged care kits for natural stone and ceramic tile that allows a customer to pick stone care products that are best suited for their needs, available products include 511 Impregnator and 511 Porous Plus sealers, 511 Seal & Enhance and Stone Polish color enhancers, cleaners such as Counter Kleen, Miraclean #1, Miracle Disinfectant, Tile & Grout Cleaner and Miracle Wipes, and Water, Ring & Etch Remover
Tenax -- patented coloring pastes for stone surfaces; one changes color with heat and the other with exposure to UV; custom-colored epoxy resin, which permanently enhances the color of granite; Texsol, a water-based sealer that is PFOA-free