Coverings 2008 took place from April 29 to May 2 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

Despite generally poor economic reports, particularly in the housing market, the continued interest in stone and tile was reflected in the four-day turnout at Coverings 2008 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, which saw 35,000 attendees from April 29 to May 2. The event’s performance surprised skeptics, as its overall attendance compared to its last appearance in Orlando (in 2006) was up 3.8%.

“Our aggressive outreach to all segments of the industry, strong conference programming and the irrepressible commitment of our exhibitors all worked to create a tremendous success,” said Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions (NTP), which manages and produces Coverings. “We knew it was a challenge to try and repeat or top the numbers we achieved last year in Chicago, where attendance hit close to 37,000. But, this year’s number has to be interpreted as a bellwether for the building industry; though there’s a slowdown, there’s no standstill. Yes, the housing market is skittish and oil prices continue to climb, but there’s still plenty of construction, remodeling, opportunities and needs for tile and stone.”

In fact, the remodeling/contractor and the commercial builder segments showed the sharpest increases in attendance since the 2006 Orlando edition of Coverings, rising 56.6% and 41%, respectively. And Coverings continues to be a draw for architects and designers in their search for new resources and inspiration. Attendance in that segment increased this year by 40%, and last year, it swelled by 87%.

The event drew a total of 35,000 visitors, as overall attendance compared to Coverings’ last appearance in Orlando (in 2006) was up 3.8%.

An upbeat show

Given the current economic climate - and the difficulties of the stone sector in particular - it is very noteworthy that several major exhibitors stated that their experiences at Coverings 2008 were among the best trade show performances ever. This included both suppliers of natural stone as well as manufacturers/distributors of stoneworking machinery. The general consensus was that the attendees at Coverings 2008 came to do business and make purchases, and not to simply “browse” the show floor.

Exhibits included stone and tile as well as stoneworking machinery, fabrication accessories and tool and installation and maintenance products. Show organizers pointed out that exhibitors at the event offered a broad range of new introductions.

Overall, Coverings featured 1,200 exhibitors from more than 50 countries, and it attracted a range of professionals, including distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors and specifiers, architectural and design professionals, builders and real estate developers, plus the trade press.

As always, many of the exhibitors at Coverings were manufacturers/distributors of stoneworking machinery.

The conference program

The conference component of Coverings, which is free and typically yields CEU credits, once again earned praise. The lineup of headline speakers and session subjects were as compelling as ever, with nearly 15% more programming than in past years, including a ramped up offering of a dozen Green Building presentations. Speakers included “Trading Spaces” personality Doug Wilson, color guru Leatrice Eiseman and leading retail authority James Dion, among many others.

Additionally, 21 winning projects were honored at Coverings 2008 with the annual Spectrum and Prism Awards, presented, respectively, for imaginative and visionary use of tile and natural stone. Noting that it was the competition’s largest group of award winners ever, Wilson emceed the awards ceremony. Coverings conferred $37,500 in prize money and celebrated the winners following the ceremony at a reception hosted at the Orange County Convention Center.

In terms of stone industry education, Coverings 2008 reported that it offered its most ambitious schedule ever for the stone industry, including 21 sessions developed exclusively for those in this sector.

Among the sessions in the “Stone Track,” individuals attended: “Preparing for MIA Accreditation - What You Need to Know;” “Women in the Stone Business;” “Stone Trends 2008;” “Branding: It’s Not Just for Cattle & Major Corporations;” “Natural Stone - Sell Like A Luxury Brand;” “Is your Fabrication Shop Ready for an OSHA Inspection?” and “Stone Showroom of the Future.” There were also two Stone Fabricator Forums, where attendees were given the opportunity to raise industry issues for discussion with their peers and a panel of industry experts.

Coverings also was the launch pad for the long-awaited Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certification Program for tile installers. The rigorous curriculum, with hands-on installation testing, was conducted over four and a half days, resulting in certification as well as a new level of professionalism and strong competitive edge for those who enrolled.

In 2009, Coverings is set for April 21 to 24 in Chicago, IL, at McCormick Place Convention Center. For more information on attending or exhibiting at Coverings, visit or contact NTP, Coverings Show Management, at 703-683-8500.

Coverings L.A. Boutique is placed on hold

Though management of Coverings 2008 reported that the event delivered a solid return on investment for both exhibitors and attendees, the show’s board of directors has taken a more cautious approach to what would have been the first regional edition. Coverings L.A. Boutique, which was planned for November 19 and 20 at the Long Beach Convention Center in California, has been postponed. No alternative date has yet been decided, although the concept for a regionally focused version of Coverings that is more selectively edited for a target audience of architects, designers, retailers and distributors still is viable, according to Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions (NTP), which manages and produces Coverings. “We know we’ve disappointed many exhibitors who had signed on for November, but the board agreed that it would be prudent to hold off until the economic climate is a little calmer and more stabilized,” he said.

Show organizers pointed out that exhibitors at Coverings 2008 offered a broad range of new introductions, including new models of machinery.

Sampling the exhibits of Coverings 2008

As always, suppliers of stone, technology, installation products and sinks relied on Coverings to showcase their latest products.

The following is a look at some of what was on display in Orlando, FL: STONE SUPPLIERS

Ancor - introduced new, larger formats and different finishes for granite tiles

Andrade S/A - Surreal from Brazil, which has varying shades of light and dark green

Antolini Luigi & C. - full slabs of semi-precious stone, adorned by Swarovski crystals, with designs completed by Fiona Swarovski

Best Cheer - pre-fabricated marble and granite countertops in 120 different stone varieties, which are made to fit standard U.S. cabinets for kitchen countertops and vanities

Bestview International Co. - showcased new concepts combining different materials and finishes, such as onyx with glass mosaics

B.M.S. & Co. - granite slabs with the Venezian® finish, which has all of the qualities and durability of polished granite but with a subtle, textured finish, making it a well-suited substitute for high-maintenance products

Bramagran - Orion granite, which has a distinctive pattern of rust and maroon, with black highlights

Cajugram - Emerald Blue granite, which features shades of blue and light green

Carmel Stone Imports - featured its Pampeano Collection, which consists of an Argentine dolomite with unique finishes, mosaic formatting and trims available

Cold Spring Granite Co. - introduced its new Pacific finish, which has an appearance that falls between a polish and an antiqued surface

Dimpomar - promoted Creme Regina, a limestone from Portugal

Gem Granites - highlighted Lava Jewel, an exclusive, high-end material with a consistent dark red color with black shimmers, but with lighter features in some areas

Gramic - Golden Fantasy granite, which has a golden color with dark brown and black waves

Gramil - Cassis, which has a deep red/violet tone with light gray and bone-colored accents

Granitex - Sage Brush granite from the African Selection, which has light green and yellow hues with waves for gray

Granitos Galrão - Fossil Black marble from North Africa, which features fossils of white and grey crustrations, adding an exotic aspect and geological interest, with strong structural characteristics

Granos - a range of exotic granite materials from Brazil, including Nacarado, which has a tan and light brown background with striking patterning in shades of maroon, rust and darker brown

Grein - Brazilian soapstone, which has a rich, gray color

Henraux - White Carrara marble in a range of varieties and forms - including book-matched slabs

Itapoama - Super White marble, which has subtle white and gray tones with distinctive patterning

Jacigua - Top Star granite, which has a light golden tone

Jerusalem Marble - a selection of Jerusalem Stone in an assortment of sizes and finishes, including Ramon Grey and Jerusalem Cream

JMS - a collection of Jura Marble quarried in Germany, offered in various tile sizes and slabs with different finish options

LaPonte Marmi - featured several different types of stone, including Wasabi Green 2, Namibia Gold, Namibia Green, Grand Canyon and La Dolce Vita

Levantina - two new varieties of Crema Marfil - Trama, which has a softly veined surface; and Sunset, which stands out because of its ocher tonality

Madhucon Granites Ltd. - highlighted an array of new colors, including Bash Exotico, Colonial Exotic and Brown Lavador of India

Mag Ban - Tropical Delicatus granite, which has the same light golden tone as traditional Delicatus, but more distinctive dark brown accents and additional rust-colored veining

Magnitos - Golden Thunder, which has alternative hues of dark brown/black and gold, with some garnet accents

Marble Systems - introduced Polysendra, a new color with elements of white and black

Marbrasa - Vic Lactea, which has a soft black color with mist-like accents of white

Marcolini Marmi S.p.A. - featured Positano, a modern marble, elegant and refined, with intense dark blue reflections that evoke the sea depths of Positano, a location on the Amalfi coast, which gave it its name; technical qualities allow internal and external use, and color uniformity makes it suitable for large projects

Marmi Bruno Zanet - displayed Moon Rock quartzite, which is brown with white reflects and Iceberg quartzite from Brazil, which is white with brown veining

Marmocil - Emerald Quartz, which has varying waves of light green, with pale brown accents

Marmoleria Gallos - Crema Viejo marble from Peru, which has a rich brown color with lighter waves of tan, available in polished slabs

Michelangelo - Cappadocia, which includes large-scale light and dark green patterning within a light maroon field

MP Granitos - Gaya granite, which has unique tones of rust and brown

MS International - Crystalline Van Gogh marble, an exotic stone from Brazil with shades of red, blue and white, available in slabs and tile

P&L Marble - displayed its new patent-pending line of onyx and mirror mosaics

Paraná Granitos - Molokai, which has a “conglomerate” appearance with sections of black, light green and dark green

Pemagran - Mari Blue, from the company’s own quarries, which has tones of white, light rust, gray and light blue

Pokarna - introduced new colors, including Coral Gold, a blend of varying shades of brown, gold and cream, and Golden Dream, with shades of gold and yellow with red accents

Tab India - Stonelite® an eco-friendly product that features 2-mm-thick sheets in various sizes, including 60 x 90, 30 x 30, 30 x 60 ad 45 x 90 cm, available in slate or quartzite with a natural cleft finish

Tec Tear - Bianco Antico granite, which has a white background with dramatic white stripes and patterning

Tracomal - a new unnamed quartzite variety with unique, subtle patterning in blue and gold

Vermont Quarries Corp. - featured its newest grade of Danby marble, Arabescato from the Brooklayer Collection; the stone is white with gray veining

World Wide Stone Corp. - promoted the Vera Cruz™ variety of Durango Stone™, extracted from a newly established site in Mexico; the stone is available in a range of tile sizes, including large-format tile


AIM, Inc. - highlighted the Master JetSaw 400 CNC waterjet/saw

Alpha Professional Tools - introduced the Countertop Trim Kit, which combines the company’s AWS-125 Wet Stone Cutter with a universal carriage assembly and a 4-foot guide rail to create a clean, straight cut

Beckhart Environmental, Inc. - displayed the Hy-Pack® Filter Press, which provides a reliable method of separating, dewatering and compacting wastewater particulates, consistently outperforming membrane-type filters, resulting in lower expenses, less maintenance and less system downtime

Blick Industries - new core drill supports that allow CNC machines to core drill faucet holes all the way through, eliminating the need to chip out cores by hand and risk blowout

Braxton-Bragg Corp. - the A.R.T. StoneLux compact kit, a fully integrated system to restore polished natural stone to its original beauty

Breton - the Smart-Cut S/NC 500 numerically controlled bridge saw, which features a rotating, tilting saw head, fixed worktable and axis control using joystick

Cemar - Super B from the CL-800 series, a bridge saw laser specifically designed for the stone-cutting industry

CMS/Brembana - promoted the Unimax 4, a bridge saw/ CNC machine, which will make its physical debut at StonExpo 2008 in Las Vegas

Comandulli - displayed the Omega 100 automatic multi-spindle belt polishing machine, the Speedy System edge polishing machine with a bench and the Penta Belt Edge polishing machine for straight edges

Diamond Productions Canada - TruForm profile wheels that fit on any hand-held grinder using its 5/8-11 attachment; new polishing pads for engineered stones; new CNC profiling tools for increased efficiency

Diamond Tech - DL5000 wet band saw, which performs precision radius cuts and intricate design work and has a 12-inch throat for deep diagonal cuts

Diteq - new Arix wheels designed to increase performance and speed by 30% and offer double life; PCD wheels which remove coatings such as glue and rubber

Edgemarc - highlighted the user-friendly Fab Master, which can be used as an edge profiler, for cutting out any shape sink (including square) and for cutting straight lines and profiles without using a template to polish, drill faucet holes and create drain boards

E-Template System - E-Template Digital Measuring System, 3-D precision templating with digital photography, uses E-Template Photo software that automatically creates completed DXF drawings

Eurostone Machine - introduced the Coch R30 work center, which the company describes as being “the evolution of hand operated machines for finished work in marble and granite”

F. Barkow - the Backsplash caddy, designed to hold three backsplash sections, each up to 8 feet long

Flow International Corp. - featured the HyperPressure™ 87000 PSI waterjet cutting system with high pressure pumping, which can provide faster cutting, lower part cost and higher production

Global E-Sourcing, Inc. - featured Global Stone Pro™, a web-based product that links fabricators and clients through the World Wide Web; fabricators and customers can log in via Internet to get information on quotations and order confirmations, cutouts, edge profiles and more

Global Granite & Marble - highlighted the Global Easy Edger™, a straight line edging machine that boosts production rate to five minutes per linear foot on 3 cm edge profiles, Global Vanity Master™, which helps convert jobs, such as profiling and polishing bowl-holes and sweeping curved edges, into a simple six-step process.

Granite City Tool - introduced the Patriot Rebel, an all-in-one center for milling through granite and marble in minutes, designed with economical sink cut-outs in mind; introduced the new Aurora blades with 20-mm segment and S segments

GranQuartz - introduced the Diarex® Stone Cycler, an innovative machine that turns scraps of granite into a variety of shapes, which can be used for pavers, tile, etc

Groves Inc. - introduced the Portable Backsplash Bracket, which can be used with transport racks and shop carts for jobsite delivery or during the fabrication process

Intermac - introduced the Master 33-43 4-axis CNC stoneworking center, featuring double operating spindles and a fourth rotating axis for aggregates, double electrospindle operating heads, tool changing optimization and advanced controls

International Machine Corp. - announced that it is an exclusive distributor of water filtration systems from Filter Systems, which process 500 liters a minute with minimal maintenance

Komo Machine - highlighted the Summit CNC stone machining center, which features a 144- x 72-inch working table and CAD-CAM software

Laser Products Industries - new LT-55 XL Precision Laser Templator that uses Samsung’s Q1 Ultra TabletPC, completely rewritten software, a screen measuring 2 ½ times larger, digital camera, wireless internet capabilities and a physical keyboard

Marmo Meccanica - the HTO-1B bridge saw, which can manually, semi-automatically or automatically cut one or two overlying slabs; the programming unit allows for eight different repeatable cuts

MC Machinery Systems Inc. - a series of Waterjet units in three different models, including the 2- to 3-axis Classica, the 4-axis Suprema and the 5-axis Evolution

Moraware - demonstrated its user-friendly JobTracker job management software for fabricators, allowing users to perform tasks such as creating a quote, turning the quote into a job, allocating material from inventory and scheduling the measure, production and install dates

Northwood Machine - the NW-257 SawJET™ which features a dual table configuration and a 50-horsepower abrasive waterjet combined with a standard 10-horsepwoer bridge saw

Omax Corp. - featured the Fabricator JetCutting Center, a large-format abrasive waterjet system where standard stone slabs can be cut directly from a CAD drawing or DXF file

Omni-Cubed - Lam-Clamp™, seam setters and Sink Hole Savers to assist in slab handling and installation

Park Industries - the Pathfinder 2600 digital slab workstation, which takes calibrated digital photos of slabs and processes the images for use with a saw/waterjet, CNC or dimensioning saw, and can rotate and nest part paths freely to match stone movement for perfectly matched seams

Pedrini - featured the Universal M930TG bridge saw, which is equipped with a twisting and tilting head and is engineered for cutting and shaping elements for buildings, furniture and architectural pieces in any type of stone

Regent Stone Products - introduced Marmoelettromeccanica super high-speed CNC bits, new Tiger series of diamond saw blades and polishing pads

Salem Stone - the Fraccaroli & Balzan Clean 20 SPS water re-circulating system that can compress 50 gallons of water a minute; the Brio, a new-generation bridge saw from GMM that features a 180-degree rotating head

Sommer & Maca Industries, Inc. - introduced the MultiFab work station, which is built with corrosion-resistant aluminum; this machine allows users to saw, profile, drill and make sink cut-outs using one machine

Stone Boss - new Terminator Zoom blade that cuts 20 linear feet per minute and features 25-mm segments

U.S. Granite Robotics - displayed the RoboEdge six-axis, edge-profiling machine as well as the RoboCut combination bridge saw/waterjet, also with six axes and a double-table cutting system

VIC International Corp. - the Diamond Back Splash (DBS) Machine, which uses one 3-horsepower motor for grinding and seven 2-horsepower motors for polishing to assure maximum footage output; the unit comes with two conveyor tables, both 10 feet in length

Vytek - introduced color laser engraving, a four-pass process that allows for full-color images on stone, which are permanent and UV resistant so they can be used for outdoor applications

Water Treatment Technologies -the EnviroSystem unit, which combines simplicity and efficiency to produce “crystal clear water” for polishing and CNC applications and “gray water” for cutting and cooling functions

Wood’s Powr-Grip Co., Inc. - the air-powered tilter 1500, a vacuum lifter providing power tilting and optimal support of stone and other high-density materials

Z. Bavelloni - the Sharp 500 bridge saw, which uses a rotating work table and a cutting disk inclination system to offer different processing combinations


Akemi - new contractor-grade polyester, Akemi Polysoft and Akemi Polyliquid; a complete and comprehensive polyester product line for all jobs

Aqua Mix - introduced the Sealer Application Kit, designed for stone and tile sealer application; the kit contains one applicator pad for sealer application and two microfiber towels for quick cleanup after sealing, and it is reusable

Bellinzoni - showcased stone care kit bottles that have been redesigned to be more environmentally friendly; although the product remains the same, it is now manufactured in the U.S. to cut costs and ensure U.S. quality control

Custom Building Products - promoted EasyBoard™, an ultra-lightweight backerboard that is engineered for strength and backed by the company’s warranty; boards with a ½-inch thickness weigh 6 pounds, while boards with a ¼-inch thickness weigh 5 pounds

Fila - offered its Marble Restorer Kit, which allows users to maintain polished marble surfaces, including the repair of etching; the kit includes Fila Marble Shine to polish the surface and Fila Formula Marmo to clean, nourish and protect the surface, as well as all of the necessary pads and items needed to apply the products

Laticrete - introduced Hydro Ban™, a thin, load-bearing waterproofing and anti-fracture membrane that does not require the use of fabrication in the field, coves or corners

Tenax - PolyTenax liquid glue, which is used to laminate marble, granite and agglomerates and is characterized for having optimal adhesion in short times (10 to 15 minutes)


AmeriSink Inc. - featured the AS125, an asymmetrical single bowl sink, providing a large work surface measuring 31 x 20 x 10 inches

Chemcore Industries, Inc. - highlighted its line of Smithy’s Copper Sinks, which are handmade from top quality 100% copper, in at least a 16-gauge thickness; this line includes many kitchen and bath styles in two finishes - antique or burned

MR Direct - displayed its stainless steel and porcelain sinks, along with faucets that were just introduced to its line

Revere Sink - stainless steel sinks and accessories, with complementary accessories and the tools necessary for simple installation, including mounting hardware, countertop cut-out, templates and complete installation instructions