Those heading to Coverings 2018 this spring should prepare themselves by downloading the international tile and stone exhibition’s mobile app from the App Store/Google Play. The annual four-day event, which is being held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA, from May 8 to 11, will offer a host of show features, product displays, educational seminars and more, and the mobile app is a great way to keep informed of show activities and to plan each day as not to miss anything.

According to Taffy Event Strategies, LLC, the show’s management team, the mobile app will allow visitors to “stay organized with up-to-the-minute exhibitor, speaker and event information.” Additionally, its feature will enable attendees to:

  • Build a personalized schedule and bookmark exhibitors
  • Take notes and download event handouts and presentations
  • Rate and comment on the sessions you attend
  • Interactively locate sessions and exhibitors on the host venue maps
  • Get an optimized show floor route of your bookmarked exhibitors with the My Route
  • Find attendees and connect with your colleagues through Attendees
  • Stay in-the-know and join in on social media with #Coverings2018

Coverings is managed by and co-sponsored by Ceramics of Italy/Confindustria Ceramica, Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA), Tile of Spain/the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). The intention of the exhibition is to provide exposure to the most innovative tile and stone products in the world, access to free accredited seminars, keynotes and live demonstration sessions, and networking opportunities with thousands of trade attendees, including distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors and installers, architectural and design professionals, builders and remodelers.
This year’s show is expected to draw more than 26,000 attendees and feature more than 1,100 exhibitors from all over the world. It will present an opportunity for exhibitors and visitors to connect, network, learn and discover all for free. Attendees can source new products their customers will demand by exploring the latest materials, trends and tools from the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers. Numerous pavilions, including North America, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Brazil, will be prevalent on the show floor.

The Stone Zone

Coverings 2018 will have an area specifically dedicated to stone products and machinery. By popular demand, The Stone Fabricators Alliance (SFA) will once again be presenting “The Cage” in this area. The Cage is a dynamic wet fabrication area contained within the exhibition floor. Sponsors of the SFA will showcase new products that visitors can try themselves, and members of the SFA will have ongoing “mini-workshops” where fabricators can get hands-on demonstrations on various fabrication techniques such as top polishing, mitering, etc.

the schedule for The Cage:

Tuesday, May 8th

Time: 11 a.m.
Demonstration: Quartz Surface Repair
Company: Regent Stone

Time: 12 p.m.
Demonstration: 3 Step Pads
Company: Helix

Time: 1 p.m.
Demonstration: Dust Free Cutting and Grinding
Company: GranQuartz

Time: 2 p.m.
Demonstration: Disto Laser System
Company: Leica

Time: 3 p.m.
Demonstration: “T” Anchoring System
Company: Weha

Time: 4 p.m.
Demonstration: 3 Step Pads, Core Bits and Cartridge Glues
Company: Rockstar Diamond, Ultra Tuff

Wednesday, May 9th

Time: 11 a.m.
Demonstration: Miter Seams on Sintered Material and Rodding
Company: Integra Adhesives

Time: 12 p.m.
Demonstration: Disto Laser System
Company: Leica

Time: 1 p.m.
Demonstration: Porcelain Panel Grinding with Beveling Guide Base
Company: Alpha

Time: 2 p.m.
Demonstration: Overcoming the Challenges of Ultra Compact Surfaces
Company: Hard Rock

Time: 3 p.m.
Demonstration: Quartz Surface Repair Rod Poxy
Company: Rockstar, Diamond

Time: 4 p.m.
Demonstration: StoneGlo Backlighting System for Illuminating Translucent Stone
Company: Defuso

Thursday, May 10th

Time: 11 a.m.
Demonstration: Glacier Colors in Tubes and Cans/New Silk Epoxy
Company: Bonstone

Time: 12 p.m.
Demonstration: Hand Fab Tools and 3 Step Pads
Company: DiamantBoart

Time: 1 p.m.
Demonstration: Sinter Slab Miter-Cut using PSC150 w/ Carriage and Rail
Company: Alpha

Time: 2 p.m.
Demonstration: Glax Fast Colored Cartridge Glue
Company: Tenax

Time: 3 p.m.
Demonstration: Sealers and Adhesives 101
Company: Chemical Concepts
 


Other show attractions

Year after year, the Installation Design Showcase is a must-see attraction at Coverings. The 2018 showcase will feature three tiny houses that will each highlight a different design aesthetic. NTCA Five Star Contractors and leading designers will partner together to showcase the synergy between beautiful design and exceptional installation. Attendees will be able to witness the on-going installation throughout the duration of the show.
Once again, Coverings Connect will also be on the show floor. Relax, charge personal devices and network with others in the Coverings Connect Lounge. Coverings Connect also presents a series of educational seminars, called “Byte” sessions. These 15-minute sessions have a digital focus and will provide tips and tricks for growth through social media and online channels. 
Scheduled Happy Hours will offer another opportunity for those in attendance to network. On Tuesday, May 8th there will be extended show hours, until 6:30 pm, and a chance to visit the world of tile and stone featuring Happy Hour specials, musical guests and lots of fun surprises. Afternoon Happy Hours will also take place on the show floor from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday. The Happy Hours are the ideal opportunity to network with colleagues and make new connections.
And new for 2018 is a tailgate party at the College Football Hall of Fame located next to the Georgia World Congress Center on Thursday, May 10th. Guests are encouraged to wear a sports jersey. Tickets are $65.

Educational opportunities

In addition to the exhibition itself, Coverings 2018 will also offer more than 45 educational seminars on a diverse range of topics pertaining to the stone and tile industries. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, having strong knowledge of successful business tactics and best practices from industry leaders is key to professional success. Through its robust program of notable and respected speakers, Coverings provides this competitive edge free of charge.
Attendees can earn CEUs by attending the educational sessions. Coverings is an approved AIA/CES Approved Provider and an NKBA CEU Provider Partner.

Exhibit Hours:

Tuesday, May 8: 10:00 AM – 6:30 PM

Wednesday, May 9: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Thursday, May 10: 10:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Friday, May 11: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Stone-specific sessions at Coverings 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Town Hall Meeting I: What General Contractors & Specifiers Are Saying about the Stone & Tile Industry?

Moderators: Bart Bettiga, Executive Director, National Tile Contractors Association; Jim Hieb, CEO, The Natural Stone Institute

This town hall meeting will open your eyes to what general contractors and design professionals are saying about the stone and tile industry. Learn from the insight offered by industry influencers and the impact it could have on your stone and tile business. We recommend that you also attend the “town hall” roundtable discussions to gain perspectives from your peers in the industry.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how general contractors and design professionals view stone and tile
  • Discuss how best to interact with general contractors and design professionals to ensure a successful product installation
  • Review what design professionals see when they create specifications for a specific project
  • Create a plan to ensure all parties are on the same page during the next project.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Why Choose Natural Stone?

Presenter: Joshua Levinson, Artistic Tile

With so many building materials on the market today, this course will remind you why architects and designers keep choosing natural stone for their projects. Throughout history we’ve seen natural stone used in iconic structures symbolizing strength and permanence. New materials strive to mimic its beauty, but genuine natural materials connect us with our planet and its future in a unique and undeniable way. Its inherent durability allows stone to perform impeccably in commercial and residential applications, interior or exterior. New technologies are also keeping stone a front runner with innovative interior design trends by introducing new textures and patterns.

Learning Objectives:

  • Admire historical uses of natural stone that have stood the test of time.
  • Review attributes of natural stone that allow it to out-perform other building materials on the market
  • Find out how the sustainability of genuine natural stone connects us with our planet and its future
  • Learn how the latest design trends are satisfied with natural stone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

ANSI Dynamic Coefficient of Friction Test for Natural Stone Surfaces

Presenter: Chuck Muehlbauer, Technical Director, Natural Stone Institute

In our litigious society, nothing in the stone industry carries the level of liability as public walking surfaces. With the 2014 withdrawal of test method ASTM C1028, stone suppliers and specifiers do not have a test method available to document the safety of their surfaces. The NSI technical department has recently completed a comprehensive study using the ANSI A137 DCOF test method, which was written for ceramic products. The results are encouraging, suggesting that this test method may be equally applicable to stone products. Attend this session to learn how the issue of slip/fall liabilities could be addressed by adoption of this test method.

Learning Objectives:

  • Better understand the DCOF test method and the equipment required to perform it
  • Review specific stone types and finishes, and discover how both stone density and stone finish influence frictional properties
  • Understand what stage the industry is at in establishing an applicable test method to evaluate safety of stone products provided for walking surfaces.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Determining Your Real Labor Costs: Are You Really Charging Enough?

Presenter: Shawn McCadden, Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC), Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), Remodeling Industry Specialist, Trainer and Business Coach, Remodel My Business, Inc., Brookline, NH

The most difficult part of estimating is predicting the labor required to complete a project. But, what does it really cost your business to support and compensate your employees for each hour they work, before you even make a profit? The burdened cost of labor includes much more than just the hourly wage of the employee who will complete the work. Knowing what to charge for labor should be based on the actual expenses of the company doing the work. Knowing the real costs of labor can be the difference you need to know you are pricing your projects for profit. Attend this seminar to find out how to do it. You can even get a free MS Excel spreadsheet template so you can get started right away.

Learning Objectives:

  • Know and understand what really makes up the total burden cost of labor and why
  • Determine burdened labor rates for accurate estimating by the hour, man or crew.
  • Identify non-productive time and learn how to cover the costs of that time in the burdened hourly rate used for estimating and job costing.
  • Understand the difference and importance between estimating and job costing with hours vs. dollars of labor.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.

Overstocked? Learn to Deal with It and Even Capitalize on It.

Presenter: Jim Dion, President and Owner, Dionco Inc.

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Inventory, it is said, can either help or hurt you, and too much inventory generally tends to end up hurting rather than helping. We could go back in time and simply reduce the order that we placed last year (hopefully not longer) and that would solve the problem. Time machines, however, have not been invented yet, so we are faced with the reality of addressing excess stock in more creative ways. And how about intentionally buying someone else’s overstocks? An anathema? Not anymore. It is often true that one person’s mistake is another person’s opportunity and that what you may not be able to sell or even give away may be in high demand somewhere else and vice versa.

This session will look at both challenges and opportunity with slow moving inventory and will highlight the many ways to maximize the return on selling overstocks and strategies for buying someone else’s problems. If you have too much excess inventory and/or you are looking for a way to increase your margins this is your chance to learn how to do it.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Town Hall Meeting II: Meeting General Contractor & Specifier Expectations

Moderators: Bart Bettiga, Executive Director, National Tile Contractors Association; Jim Hieb, CEO, The Natural Stone Institute

Presenters: Daniel Wood LEED, GA, Sales, Lurvey Supply, Antioch, IL; Kathy Spanier, Director of Marketing, Coldspring, MN; Bob Zavagno, Cleveland Marble

Join industry colleagues as we discuss how to meet the expectations of general contractors and specifiers. This interactive session will include small group discussions designed to learn about the thought process of your partners. Join a small group of 15 industry peers and learn how the stone and tile trades can enhance the expectations.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how design professionals specify stone and how you can be an active partner in the process
  • Discuss how best to interact with general contractors and design professionals to ensure a successful project installation
  • Learn what your company can do to ensure correct specifications are created at the beginning of the project
  • Create a plan that will allow all parties to be on the same page from mockup to installation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Developing Our Workforce: Engaging the Next Generation for the Tile and Stone Industry

Moderator: Gayle Silvey, Associate Director, Office of Education, SkillsUSA, Leesburg, VA

Presenter: Bart Bettiga, Executive Director, National Tile Contractors Association

The tile and stone industry, like many others, is faced with the continued need to recruit, hire, train, manage and retain talent. There continues to be not only a labor shortage, but a skills gap inhibiting the industry from finding this talent. The workforce crisis has had a direct impact on the quality of installations as fewer qualified installers are available, increasing the number of callbacks due to improper installations.

How can the industry build the future workforce? What are the best and next practices to move us forward? From apprenticeship programs to local partnerships, learn how you can help engage the next generation within your community to grow the tile and stone industry.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Stone Trends: An Historical Perspective

Presenter: Vincent Marazita, NSI, President and Owner, Stone Trends International, Canoga Park, CA

From countertops to skyscrapers, the use of natural stone is a well-accepted building material in the U.S. Especially in these lean construction years, it is crucial to understand the direction of the market for dimension stone. Get an overall view of the market and market trends by attending this 18th annual “State of the Industry” presentation on the dimensional stone market in the U.S. This session will cover information, sourcing, marketing and application trends in the stone industry over the last year, including examples of award-winning projects that have been recognized for their use of natural stone.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the international sourcing channels for natural stone
  • Learn about the principal selection and testing criteria for designing with natural stone
  • Gain an understanding of how stone is used on interiors and exteriors in architecture and design
  • Become acquainted with the main design trends through award-winning installations.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

New and innovative Products in the Fabricator Marketplace

Presenters: Tony Malisani, Owner, Malisani Inc.; GK Naquin, NSI Accredited, President, Stone Interiors, Gaston, SC

The stone industry is always changing and a company’s success can be based on their understanding of new and innovative products. During this interactive tour, visit vendors on the show floor and learn what new products are available to the industry. Come away with a plan to implement new products that could grow your business.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about new products available to stone professionals
  • Discuss how best to implement new products into your business plan
  • Find the return on investment of adding new tooling to your facility.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Overstocked? Learn to Deal with It and Even Capitalize on It.

Presenters: Jim Dion, President and Owner, Dionco Inc.

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Inventory, it is said, can either help or hurt you, and too much inventory generally tends to end up hurting rather than helping. We could go back in time and simply reduce the order that we placed last year (hopefully not longer) and that would solve the problem. Time machines, however, have not been invented yet, so we are faced with the reality of addressing excess stock in more creative ways. And how about intentionally buying someone else’s overstocks? An anathema? Not anymore. It is often true that one person’s mistake is another person’s opportunity and that what you may not be able to sell or even give away may be in high demand somewhere else and vice versa.

This session will look at both challenges and opportunity with slow moving inventory and will highlight the many ways to maximize the return on selling overstocks and strategies for buying someone else’s problems. If you have too much excess inventory and/or you are looking for a way to increase your margins this is your chance to learn how to do it.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Fabricator Forum

Presenters: Tony Malisani, Owner, Malisani Inc.; John Lancto, AAS Architectural Design, Consultant, Big Fish Consulting, Sullivans Island, SC; Matt O’Callaghan, Spelts Schultz Countertops; Ashley Klanac, BA, Marketing Manager, Premier Surfaces, GA

This interactive forum is an excellent opportunity to discuss with your fabricator colleagues many of the challenges involved in the market. The session will include three breakout groups (Technical, Business Administrative and Marketing) where fabricators will discuss top challenges in each area. Participants will then reconvene for a facilitated discussion to recap each topic group. All attendees are encouraged to participate by presenting a problem or sharing a solution. Bring your topics and we will provide the forum.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain a better understanding of the residential countertop market
  • Explore how other fabricators deal with the myriad of issues involved in the residential market
  • Discuss fabrication methods, equipment needs, materials, customer service, personnel and sales strategies.
  • Interact with fabricators from different markets to learn “best practices” from across the country.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Women in Stone – A Stone Project Model

Presenters: Brie Pfannenbecker, Connecticut Cut Stone; Kim Dumais, Director of Sales, Miller Druck Specialty Contracting

The key to understanding a natural stone project is reviewing the project’s constituent parts. Join the The Natural Stone Institute Women in Stone as you walk the show floor to recreate a natural stone project. Follow the project from vendor-to-vendor to review stone selection, templating, fabricating and installation of a project. In addition, review a care and maintenance plan template to ensure the customer’s satisfaction.

Learning Objectives:

  • Review the stone selection process for a natural stone project
  • Learn about the constituent parts of a stone project and how each affect the completion of that project
  • Hear from experts who will explain each part of a stone process from the quarry to stone maintenance
  • Leave with a plan to better serve and meet your customer’s expectations.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Growth and Opportunities: Controlling Your Healthcare Costs over the Next Two Years

Presenters: Gene Marks, CPA, President & CEO, The Marks Group PC, Bala Cynwyd, PA

It’s no secret that healthcare in the U.S. is in a great state of change. The Affordable Care Act has not been repealed, but parts of it are being chipped away and significant changes to the legislation are expected over the next few years. These changes will have an impact on costs and coverages affecting your business and your employees. This is not a trivial matter. The costs of healthcare continues to be substantial for both companies and individuals and most experts expect these costs to continue to rise over the next two years amidst the ongoing uncertainty in the industry and Washington.

Your challenge: how to control your healthcare costs in a tight labor market while still providing a competitive benefit for your current and prospective employees.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the current state of the Affordable Care Act and potential changes coming;
  • Understand healthcare costs across industries and regions to help you benchmark where you stand;
  • Understand the benefits and drawbacks of various “Obamacare” health plan options;
  • Understand whether self-insurance, group insurance or a hybrid approach is right for your business.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Managing Construction Risks: Or How to Avoid Paying Your Lawyers

Presenter: Daniel Dorfman, JD, Leed Green Associate, Chair, Construction Law Group Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, Chicago, IL

No doubt in this marketplace, tile and stone manufacturers, suppliers, installers and designers need to continue to innovate to deliver the highest and best product to the end-user. They must do so, however, on highly complex projects with multiple trades, with a truncated fast-paced construction schedule, with continuous changes to both the construction and the schedule, and with significant liability when things go wrong. This presentation will discuss best practices to navigate the legal risks associated with the design and installation of ceramic tile and natural stone in commercial projects – from using contract-writing as a creative process to present clear contractual terms that appropriately allocates risk and responsibility across the project teams to learning how to handle issues, problems and claims when they arise during a project (or after it is long over).

Learning Objectives:

  • Upon completion, participants will be able to distinguish between a “good” contract that can set expectations with the customer, properly define scopes of work and appropriately allocate responsibility among the project team, as compared to a “bad” contract that will inevitably doom a project at its inception
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to identify and proactively respond to the various legal risks that arise during the design process and installation phase of ceramic tile and natural stone for commercial projects
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to utilize proven methodologies to help manage and resolve claims without the need for litigation
  • Upon completion, participants will be able to recognize best practices to prepare for prosecuting and/or defending claims through the complexities of litigation process, when necessary.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Silica Exposure and Employee Safety in the Stone Industry

Presenters: Mark Meriaux, Accreditation and Technical Manager, The Natural Stone Institute; Jonathan Mitnick, Vice President, CCS Stone, Inc., Moonachie, NJ; Greg Osterhout, Vice President, Northern Stone Supply; Gus Mojarro, Stone Source

How is the stone industry addressing the OSHA and MSHA silica rule change? What are leading stone professionals doing NOW to reduce silica exposure for their employees? What are the real costs associated with making your shop and business safer? This session will prepare attendees to create a safety program that addresses silica exposure, baseline testing and a number of issues your employees will encounter.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss silicosis, its origin and its impact on your employee.
  • Understand the changes to the employee silica exposure rules for wet and dry shops
  • Review baseline testing options and how these will protect your employees and company
  • Identify tools available to help employers ensure a safe work facility.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Too Many “Cooks” in the Kitchen: Understanding Roles in Kitchen Construction/Remodel

Presenters: Mark Williams, Principal, Mark Williams Design Associates; Mary Kathryn Timoney, Senior Designer, Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio; Rod Rodriguez, Atlanta Kitchen Construction Resources

The homeowner has hired an architect or an interior designer, or even both, for the construction or remodel of their kitchen. So why would there be a need for a kitchen designer? What role would he/she play? What about the tile designer? What is his/her expertise? Join our panel as we unravel the confusing web of design professionals and explain the importance of each role. Understand if, when and how each professional should be part of the team to ensure your project is a success.


Thursday, May 10, 2018, 2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Growth and Opportunities: Controlling Your Healthcare Costs over the Next Two Years

Presenter: Gene Marks, CPA, President & CEO, The Marks Group PC, Bala Cynwyd, PA

It’s no secret that healthcare in the U.S. is in a great state of change. The Affordable Care Act has not been repealed, but parts of it are being chipped away and significant changes to the legislation are expected over the next few years. These changes will have an impact on costs and coverages affecting your business and your employees. This is not a trivial matter. The costs of healthcare continues to be substantial for both companies and individuals and most experts expect these costs to continue to rise over the next two years amidst the ongoing uncertainty in the industry and Washington.

Your challenge: how to control your healthcare costs in a tight labor market while still providing a competitive benefit for your current and prospective employees.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand current state of the Affordable Care Act and potential changes coming
  • Understand healthcare costs across industries and regions to help you benchmark where you stand
  • Understand benefits and drawbacks of various “Obamacare” health plan options
  • Understand whether self-insurance, group insurance or a hybrid approach is right for your business.

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Attracting More Designers to Your Showroom – How to Deliver CEU Courses

Presenters: Sarah Gregg, CEU & Women in Stone Administrator, The Natural Stone Institute; Daniel Wood, LEED, GA, Sales, Lurvey Supply, Antioch, IL

Want to expand your outreach to architects and interior designers? Have you ever had difficulty getting an appointment at a large firm in your area? Consider providing CEUs (continuing education units) to the design community. This session will showcase how the CEU program works and how to position your company as the leading expert on natural stone in your marketplace. We’ll also explore how the various CEU programs work (AIA, ASID, IDC, IDEC, IIDA, NKBA and others) and how to get started giving presentations. This “how-to” explanation will help you get started down the CEU provider path.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn about the different CEU reporting organizations
  • Discuss NSI’s CEU program and how companies are utilizing its resources
  • Summarize each of the courses currently offered and briefly examine the support & literature available for training.

Friday, May 11, 2018, 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Managing a Family Business

Presenters: Tony Malisani, Owner, Malisani Inc.; Bernie Van Etten III, President, Murphy Marble, Chicago, IL; Jaqueline Tabbah, Vice President, International Stoneworks Inc.

Working in a family business can be a challenge. Why are some businesses successful, while others struggle? What are the best practices? Join a panel of stone professionals from three different family businesses as they share their experiences. Plan on joining this robust Q&A session.

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss the difference between the family structure vs. the family business
  • Discuss how to transfer ownership through generations
  • Discuss professional services geared specifically for family businesses
  • Discuss holidays and family events when not everyone is getting along and how to handle non-performing family members.