Everything Tile & Stone at Coverings in Orlando
Every year our industry gathers for a conference focused on the tile and stone industry called Coverings. This year the show was close to home in at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL and our whole team got an opportunity to check out the show, talk to and network with many of our wholesale customers, and see what’s trending in the tile and stone industry. Here are some of our highlights from the past week.
The show started on Tuesday morning and the leadership team of Norstone USA was on it early, putting in some miles back and forth through the exhibit hall in search of new and interesting products.
Since we focus exclusively on natural stone, we spent most of our time around the perimeter of the exhibition hall since the center is dominated by the Italian, Spanish, and North American porcelain and ceramic tile manufacturers. We visited with many manufacturers from Turkey, Egypt and various parts of Asia, getting lots of great ideas for products that the market might be interested in. We also spent some time with the setting materials manufacturer’s at the show, learning all about the latest advancements to tile thinset and how that can improve the installation techniques of our products.
Wednesday we spent most of the day with one of our amazing distributor partners, D&B Tile. Whenever Coverings is in Orlando, D&B sponsors a bus trip from their headquarters in South Florida to the show for the day. Many of their best customers, ranging from top level architects and designers based in Miami to tile contractors who buy all their material through D&B take advantage of this trip. We sponsored a lunch where we got a chance to speak with everyone who came on the trip about our products, answer any questions, and get some great face time in with the good folks at D&B who have supported our product day in and day out for over a decade.
On Thursday the Norstone team logged a few more miles pounding the convention center floor in search of new products and design trends to inspire our own creativity and product development. Along the way, we saw cool new products in the tile industry, like a wet saw that doesn’t use any water, and large format tiles that were printed similar to thermofoil over foam that were so well made they were indistinguishable from standard porcelain or ceramic (yet far lighter!).
We finished out the show by sitting down with another tile distributor we do business with based in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This great family run business with 10+ locations has been open for over 60 years and as such, has seen first hand the ebbs and flow of this industry. What was apparent to everyone that had spent time at Coverings this year was that the gap between tile manufacturers was getting smaller and smaller. Years ago, there was a marked difference between what the high end innovative manufacturers in Italy and Spain were producing versus what you saw coming out of the parts of the world that are newer to selling tile in the North American market, like South America and Asia. Now, there are so many good products in the market that it’s really more about the relationships you form with your customers. At Norstone, we’ve always valued those relationships, and will continue to do so, whether its with our big whole customers or a homeowner we’re able to work with direct that has trusted part of the vision of their project to us. In a crowded marketplace it truly is the little things that stand out.
Coverings 2018 will be in Atlanta, GA and the Norstone team looks forward to being there again to celebrate all that is tile and stone!