In a move aimed at providing solutions and tools for coping with the business challenges faced by tile and stone professionals in the year ahead, Coverings 2009 will present a newly developed “Surviving 2009” series of educational sessions. During the show’s run from April 21 to 24 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, there will be a menu of 11 seminars dedicated to teaching show attendees strategies and tactics for riding out the current economic storm. Led by experts from across the industry, these sessions, like all of Coverings’ conference programming, are entirely free of charge, and many yield AIA, ASID/IIDA or NKBA continuing education credits.

“While the conference component at Coverings has always been one of the highlights of the show, this year’s addition of the ‘Surviving 2009’ track elevates it to a new level by tackling the most relevant and top-of-mind issues facing the industry,” said Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions, which manages and produces Coverings. “By creating dedicated programming that squarely addresses crucial business survival issues, we’re giving show attendees the advice they need now more than ever before - at no cost, as always, and with no cutbacks to the rest of the conference schedule. We believe that the investment made in traveling to Coverings is a small one relative to the bounty of real, ready-to-implement advice and insight awaiting show-goers this year.”

Topping the noteworthy sessions scheduled to be part of this programming is marketing guru Jonathan Trivers’ keynote address for distributors and retailers on April 22. He plans to provide attendees with tried-and-true advice on to how to stay a step ahead of consumers’ ever-changing tastes in his presentation “Trendscape 360: Today’s Retailers Must Understand Customer Changes and Industry Changes.”

Also sure of particular interest to retailers is “Creating a ‘Sell’ Room, Not a Showroom,” scheduled for Thursday morning. Presented by James Dion, founder and president of internationally known retail consultancy Dionco, the session will teach attendees how to use key visual presentation tricks to wow customers and boost sales. Later the same morning, Dion will offer an in-depth look at the challenges facing the retail industry with “Retail Ain’t What It Used to Be: A Preview of the Future.” Drawing on his experiences with A-list clients, including Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Williams-Sonoma and Johnson & Johnson, Dion will arm attendees with ammunition to help generate new concepts for staying on the cutting edge of this dynamic industry.

In his past appearances at Coverings, Donato Grosser has provided valuable state-of-the-industry knowledge, and his upcoming “Forecasting the U.S. Ceramic Tile Market” seminar promises a thoughtful analysis of where the ceramic tile market is headed. As principal of D. Grosser and Associates, he brings nearly 25 years’ experience in counseling international clients on increasing their presence in the American market to bear on his illuminating and realistic picture of tile consumption and future opportunities for sales. His presentation on the opening day of the show will mark his first appearance in front of a Chicago Coverings audience.

The chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson, will address issues of concern to installers and contractors when he takes to the stage as the keynoter on April 21. His session, “Construction Forecast: What Impact Can You Expect?” will explain how the current economy is affecting the construction industry, and provide insight as to how contractors and other industry professionals can strategically respond to shrinking budgets and project delays.

Fabricators will want to add “Estimating 101 - Do You Know Your Cost?” to their agendas. This session on April 23, conducted by GK Naquin of Stone Interiors and Michael Twiss of Columbia Stone, Inc., will take an in-depth look at how to best evaluate the cost of each component of a business to help beef up the bottom line.

For more information on the Coverings education program, including the Surviving 2009 series,

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