Figure 1 - Vetrazzo concrete and recycled glass surfacing material was among three concrete-related exhibitors at the show. The product also spoke to the growing green focus that was seen at the show.
Figure 2 - Gordon Doull, of Surface Authority in Huntington Beach, Calif., clowns around at The Fabricator Network booth, which broadcast the expo floor live over the Internet this year.
Figure 3 - SpectraStone, a solid surface material that uses a strand particulate, could be seen on the show floor this year at the Spectra Design booth. Figure 4: DuPont’s new Illumination Series of solid surface was on display at the company’s booth.
Figure 4 - DuPont Corian Illumination Series display.
Figure 5 - Dani Homrich of Dani Designs showed off his new quartz polishing system at the show, for which he was given the ISSFA Innovator Award this year.
Figure 6 -3M’s new line of air-powered finishing tools for orbital sanding was on display at the company’s booth at this year’s expo.
Nestled amongst the ambient sounds of clanging slot machines, bright lights and what seems to be the perpetual night life of Las Vegas, was the 11th Annual Surface Fabrication & Design Expo, having returned to what was historically its home.
The expo, which ran from Feb. 21 to 23, was smaller this year, largely because of the down economy, but provided a more intimate setting. It offered chances to gather information on solid surface, engineered and natural stone and all of the equipment that surround those products from peers, vendors and a well-rounded group of seminars.
With a backdrop that included the annual ISSFA general session and a revamped educational program with tracks dedicated to newer, intermediate and experienced fabrication companies, as well as live demonstrations and clinics, the knowledge housed all in one place was immeasurable.
THE EXHIBIT HALL
On the show floor there were plenty of inventive new products and things to see. Of interest was the fact that there were three exhibitors related to the concrete countertop movement: The Concrete Countertop Institute, renown concrete countertop guru Fu-Tung Cheng with Cheng Concrete and Vetrazzo, a supplier of premade 3-cm concrete slabs that use recycled glass as a particulate and can be fabricated using stone equipment (see Figure 1).
Another first for the show was that it was televised over the Internet by The Fabricator Network (www.thefabricatornetwork.com), which exhibited at the show. The event, dubbed FabNet TV, was watched by numerous members of the online community who were unable to attend in person (see Figure 2).
Also drawing attention was the introduction of 3M’s first-ever, full line of air-powered finishing tools (Figure 6). The line also includes 3M’s new dust management system, with its vacuum-equipped tools and Clean Sanding Disc technology. The system uses a patented multihole pattern to balance cutting surface with dust removal, designed to help trap more dust. “This product line contains more than 20 power tools and is the first of several complete abrasive systems for use in a variety of industries,” said Lee Russell, business manager for 3M Finishing Systems.
An interesting idea for a new twist on solid surface color patterns was at the show in the form of SpectraStone from Spectra Design Inc. This material’s particulate takes the form of strands rather than chunks, giving it a unique look (see Figure 3). That, along with some beautiful samples of Dorado Soapstone, the new colors of quartz surfacing offered by Lexmar, Samsung Staron’s new Tempest colors, the translucent pastels of the new DuPont Illumination solid surface series (see Figure 4) or any of the other surfacing materials at the show, set a backdrop covering all of the premium surfacing materials.
Among fabrication machinery, power tools, abrasives, adhesives and sinks of all kinds, not to mention a variety of related products, could be found a number of gems. For instance, Laser Products released the upgrade to its LT-55 laser templating system that includes a tablet PC, or Water Treatment Technologies new Concentrator, a fully automatic sediment dewatering and gray water recycling system.
ISSFA AT THE SHOW
As in years past, the International Solid Surface Fabricators Association held its annual meeting at the show, where it recognized supporters and announced plans. Keith Layton, of Mountain Tops in Hayesville, N.C., stepped down as ISSFA president and Todd Werstler, of Tower Industries in Massillon, Ohio, was passed the gavel of leadership. In his inaugural address, he spoke of getting the organization back to its roots as not one of “you and I” but rather “we,” and urged all members to participate for the betterment of the whole. Two new board members were also introduced to the membership: Mike Nolan, of Windbound Company, Morganton, N.C.; and Mike Langenderfer, of The Countertop Shop, Holland, Ohio. It was also announced that three former board members were leaving the board: Vanessa Bates, of Block Tops, Anaheim, Calif.; Phil DeCaro, of Eagle Fabrication, Keyport, N.J.; and Luke Moore, of Fine Line Pacific, Kent, Wash.
A number of awards were given out at the show, among which were those offered up by ISSFA: Associate of the Year — Festool’s Steve Rangoussis; Innovator Award — Dani Homrich, of Dani Designs, for his new quartz polishing system (see Figure 5); Envision Award — LG HI-MACS, for its Eden recycled solid surface; Fabricator of the Year — Don Hinckley of NBC Solid Surfaces in Springfield, Vt.
ISSFA also inducted Hilary Converse of J-Con in Thomaston, Conn., and Ted and Miriam Benyovits of Auto V Grooving, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, into its Hall of Fame.
Surface Fabrication magazine, in conjunction with the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo, also gave out its annual Surface Fabrication Achievement in Design Awards. With more than 30 entries this year, for which all of the items were on display at the show, it was considered quite a success (see the full article on the award winners here).
CONFERENCE AND NETWORKING
In addition to a whole day of ISSFA’s events, there were a number of other networking opportunities at the show. The Marble Institute of America exhibited, providing an opportunity to learn more about the organization and its educational opportunities, as did the aforementioned Concrete Countertop Institute.
Numerous parties and events were both sponsored by the show, ISSFA, and exhibitors such as Integra Adhesives and DuPont to name a few. They gave fabricators ample time to interact and share information. But it seems the real star of the show was the revamped educational program, which reported a very high turnout and satisfied attendees.
Not only did the sessions focus on the specific level of advancement of a given business — new entrants, intermediate firms and veterans — but they also hit on some key industry topics, such as green products, sales and marketing and commercial design and fabrication.
Among the exhibits, the networking opportunities and the educational offerings, any fabricator should have been able to walk away having learned something to benefit his or her business.
LOOKING TO 2009
For those in attendance, the show provided plenty of learning and networking opportunities, as well as a chance to see new products now available, and in 2009 it is sure to do the same when it returns to Orlando.
Dates for next year’s show have been established and the exposition will be held at the Orange County Convention Center, Feb. 19 to 21.
For more information on the Surface Fabrication & Design Expo, visit www.sfdexpo.com or call 800-827-8009.
Surface Fabrication would like to acknowledge the assistance of Marie Gerace, of ISSFA, Norm Walters, of Norm Walters Construction in Tampa, Fla., and The Fabricator Network for their assistance in preparing this report.