If you were present at the 7th Annual Solid Surface Expo in Las Vegas you probably noticed something different from previous shows, namely, there was plenty of room to spread out. Indeed, the venue at the Las Vegas Convention Center was so spacious some people wondered if the show was less well-attended than before. In fact, just the opposite was true.
"The Solid Surface Expo had over 3,500 attendees," says Cygnus Expositions show manager Leo Bowser, "which is a record for this event. Participating in the trade show as exhibitors were approximately 140 companies, filling more than 41,000 net square feet of exhibit space. That, too, is a record for the Expo."
As good as the numbers were, more important was the quality and relevance of products and companies displayed on the show floor. Again, visitors to the show were not to be disappointed. There were specialized products for everything from sales and order management software to computerized fabrication machinery. Vendors for accessories, specialized niche products, disposables, recycling systems and producers of raw materials were on hand to demonstrate their wares and answer any questions - not to mention the 30+ manufacturers of solid surface and stone products.
One of the more significant trends within in the industry was reflected by the number of technology companies that exhibited at the show. Estimating and project management software, electronic templating, CAM/CAD software and engineering, laser technology, and digital communications technology were well represented in the exhibit hall.
Comments from exhibitors regarding the in interest of trade attendees was uniformly positive. "We more than met our goals for the show," says Mark Titus of Florenata. "The second day was a little light, but we needed it to recover from how busy we were the first day of the show."
In the kickoff session changes to the leadership of ISSFA were announced, and annual achievement awards presented (see sidebar). The general session was followed by a keynote presentation offered by Robert Wendover of the Generational Studies Institute. In a fascinating dissection of the similarities and differences that exist between different age groups, Wendover offered insight and direction for employers on how to recognize, understand and deal with generational diversity in the workplace.
Over the course of the three-day convention, seminars centering on fabrication techniques, sales and marketing and business management were presented to mostly packed audiences. In general, the presenters were well qualified and well prepared, and audience participation was lively.
Presentation of the ISSFA's annual awards for excellence in the solid surface industry took place during the general session on opening day of the convention. Hall of Fame honors went to Mike McDonnell of DuPont Surfaces, Fabricator of the Year was awarded to Doug White of Cache Valley Countertops, Ian Fanning of DuPont Surfaces/Europe garnered Innovator of the Year honors, and Avonite Surfaces was the recipient of the newly created Envision award.
Board Member Changes
Stepping down as board members this year were Mike Wilson-South, Gus Blume, Martin Funck and Ed Wright. Vacancies on the ISSFA board were filled by Todd Werstler of Tower Industries in Massillon, OH; Tom Beames of Wilbedone, Inc. in Cortland, N.Y.; Lynda Fisher of Fisher's Fixtures in Topeka, Kan.; and Ted Sherrit of Floform Countertops in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.