Taking place from January 28 to 31 at the Sands Expo & Con-vention Center in Las Vegas, NV, Surfaces 2003 marks a time when various segments of the floor covering industry come together to do business, network and make strategic decisions for the upcoming year. The event, which has been dubbed as the center-piece of "International Floor Covering Week," has also seen an increased presence of the hard surface industry, such as natural stone and related installation and maintenance products.

Surfaces is owned by Hanley-Wood LLC, a business-to-business media company in the residential and commercial construction industry. This year, the company expects that approximately 10% of the 900 exhibitors will be in the stone or tile field, and 20% of the new products showcased will be related to stone and tile. Overall, Surfaces features 500,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

As it grows in size, the Surfaces Expo continues to evolve in its scope. A total of 20% of the companies displaying at the event are new to the show since last year. Additionally, 40% of the pre-show workshops and seminars in the Surfaces Conference Program have all new content.

Seminars and workshops that will be included in the stone and tile sector are "Making the Transition to Ceramic Tile Installation," with speaker Michael Byrne, president of Michael F. Byrne Associates, discussing the special care and materials required when installing ceramic tiles. Additionally, "Ceramic Sales Training," "Porcelain Technology and Installation," and "Designing With Style," will all be presented by speaker Patti Fasan, president of p.a.t.t.i., which specializes in ceramic tile sales, marketing and specification.

"Mold: A Growing Problem in Floor Covering," will be presented by speakers Craig Hamilton, director of research and development of Mapei Corporation; Gray LaFortune, director of the Ceramic Tile Institute of America; Joe Grady, president of Diversified Resources Incorporated and Ray Thompson, manager of Field Installation for Armstrong World Industries. They will discuss how the subfloor and installation process can contribute to mold problems as well as whether vinyl, wood, carpet or even ceramic tiles are safe from this epidemic. Additionally, "The Complete Approach to Ceramic and Stone Tile Marketing," will also be held. This seminar is by Greg Gelston, director of sales for Schluter Systems North America, who will talk about the insight necessary to gain a competitive advantage by taking a complete approach to the marketing of

ceramic and stone tile.

In addition to the seminars, there are a number of contests and receptions in place for the week, such as the "Innovative Retailer 2003," in which the prizewinner received a trip to Surfaces and a cash prize. There will also be an Installation Competition, and a "Red Carpet" reception on the first day of the show.