Coverings returned to Orlando, FL, to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. The international stone and tile exhibition attracted more than 1,100 exhibitors to the Orange County Convention Center from April 9th to 12th. This year’s show presented various interactive experiences for attendees, including a timeline highlighting Coverings’ heritage – showcasing the exhibition’s long-standing history and recognizing exhibitors who have participated annually.

“The strong attendance on the first day of Coverings and thousands of inspiring displays from our global exhibitors truly showcases significant growth in the tile and stone industry,” said Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Events, the management company for Coverings. “With 2019 marking Coverings’ 30th anniversary, we’re honored to continue fostering valuable connections and expanding industry knowledge.”

Setting the show into motion on the first day, representatives from Ceramics of Italy, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), Tile of Spain, the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) gathered in the main lobby of the convention center for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. The energy of the crowd could be felt as many eagerly waited for the exhibition hall doors to open. A new motorized Coverings sign was a center attraction in the lobby area. Also, a 30th anniversary-branded photo booth was stationed in the main area, which encouraged visitors to take pictures.

On the show floor, the newly expanded Installation & Design Experience was lively with activity as attendees viewed demonstrations, interactive learning features and inspiring vignettes that demonstrated the synergy between design and installation. The vignettes were the creation of locally based designers and architects, and realized by quality installers. The teams included: Reginald Dunlap Interior Design and Welch Tile & Marble, using ESTIMA Ceramica products; Interstruct, Inc. and C. C. Owen Tile Company, Inc., using Crossville, Inc. products; and HHCP and Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Inc., using Ceramics of Italy products. This year, TCNA offered a new feature — its highly respected Product Performance Testing Laboratory — which explains the tests that are commonly conducted within the TCNA Lab, exemplifying how vital this information can be for product suitability and performance.

The Stone Zone, featuring The Cage by the Stone Fabricator’s Alliance, was another area of interest on the show floor. In this wet fabrication area, new product introductions were made and mini workshops were held – demonstrating various techniques such as top-polishing and mitering. Additionally, the Live Installation Demo Stage was also a crowd-drawing attraction. The stage allowed attendees to learn from leading professional contractors through “how-to” classes with an in-person look at tile installation solutions for challenging projects.

In general, exhibitors offered attendees a peak at new product introductions – everything from new and exotic stones to new tooling and fabrication equipment to the latest technology for cleaning, protecting and maintaining natural stone. The Natural Stone Institute hosted a fabricator tour, which led an interested group on a two-hour walk to visit several manufacturers and distributors to learn about their newest products.

Coverings 2019 also offered attendees a comprehensive educational program with more than 50 complementary sessions targeting fabricators, builder/remodelers, architects, designers, retailers, distributors and contractor/installers. The sessions ranged from more technical and business issues to current design trends with stone and tile.

Overall, exhibitors and attendees had a positive reaction to Coverings 2019. “It has been great for us,” said Magdalena Schoenwetter of Germany-based Jura Marble Suppliers (JMS), when Stone Worldvisited their booth. “They are quality people who are stopping by. In past shows, people wanted to find out our prices to compare with our competitors. It’s not at all like that this year.”

Jacqueline Liger, North America Market-ing Manager for Diamut and Intermac, agreed that they had quality visits from most of the attendees who came by. “And we had more leads on the first day than we did last year,” she said.

The team at StoneTrash also was pleased with show attendance. On the last day of the exhibition they told Stone Worldthat traffic had finally slowed down for them. It had been non-stop the first three days.

Coverings 2020 will return to New Orleans, LA, after 19 years. The show will run from April 20th to 23rd at the Ernest N. Morel Convention Center.