2012 NWFA Expo- We Came, We Saw, We Conquered

25 04 2012
Day 1 NWFA Expo Orlando, Florida

Day 1 NWFA Expo Orlando, Florida

The NWFA held its annual wood flooring conference this year in Orlando, Florida at the Gaylord Palms Resort.  It was our first foray into the trade show scene as Grass Roots Flooring co-founders, and we must admit the wood flooring industry can organize one heck of an expo!  Below is a breakdown of how Jen and I made the most of our time during the 3 day event:

Prior to the Expo:

Prior to day 1 of the expo, we had a little fun and took a trip to the famous Universal Studios in Orlando (It can’t be all work and no play!). We were able to spend the day in the fantasy worlds of Hogwarts, Jurrasic Park, and Marvel Comic books, to name a few. The day ended with delicious cucumber margaritas at—where else—Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter-- Hogwarts!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter-- Hogwarts!

Day 1- Down to Business….and A Party Of Course

After that it was down to business.  Throughout the week, the NWFA offered classes across a number of tracks including marketing, and technical knowledge. Members had their choice of which classes to attend on each day.

The first day of the expo was pretty lax. I attended a blogging course, while Jen learned about “Wood Floor Acclimation Do’s and Don’ts”. We both enjoyed our respective sessions and left with many useful tidbits of information about bamboo and exotic hardwood flooring, as well as ideas to improve Grass Roots Flooring as a company.  After class, it was time for the opening party!

The party was great, awesome food, good music, and a nice networking atmosphere.  We made invaluable connections with industry veterans who were extremely gracious and forth-coming with information about industry best practices, challenges.  We realized that night how incredibly important it is to get out there and meet as many knowledgeable people in your industry as early on as possible.  The value in any trade show or expo is in the relationships you create. Even those who may not directly work with you as a customer, supplier, etc, can share their knowledge and/or connect you to other individuals that may be of use to your business in the future.

NWFA Expo Opening Cocktail Reception

NWFA Expo Opening Cocktail Reception

Day 2- Branding & Keynote: The Harley Way

The second day started bright and early with an inspirational key note presentation by Ken Schmidt (former VP of Communications for Harley-Davidson.) He was a tremendous speaker and had the crowd engaged for the entire hour and a half.  He provided NWFA members with invaluable pointers about brand building and making your business stand out among the rest.

Ryan & Ken Schmidt, Former VP of Communications at Harley-Davidson

Ryan & Ken Schmidt, Former VP of Communications at Harley-Davidson

After the keynote, we were onto more classes. I attended a class hosted by Ken where he spoke about differentiation in more detail; while, Jen learned more about the dangers of moisture and wood flooring in a class hosted by NWFA certified professionals.

In the afternoon we got our first taste of the actual trade show.  We spent our time walking around to the different booths, meeting industry vendors from all over the world. We made some key connections that will allow us to broaden our product offering to our customers. Overall, a huge success.

Day 3- Classes, Awards Luncheon & More..

The third and final day started early with an Industry Issues Forum at 8am.  In the afternoon, there were some additional educational sessions where we learned more about the industry from different perspectives (marketing, installation, refinishing, etc).

The much anticipated Awards Luncheon began at noon with HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse as the Keynote speaker. Awards were given to NWFA members for ambassadorship in the industry and outstanding leadership in community service, to name a few. In addition, the coveted NWFA Wood Floor of the Year Award was awarded to an installation company from the Bronx, NY. Being from NY ourselves, we were proud that a fellow-New Yorker took home the top accolade! After the luncheon HGTV star Carter Oosterhouse took pictures with NWFA members and we were able to have a detailed conversation with him. He was down to earth and a genuinely nice guy.

Jen & Ryan, Grass Roots Flooring Co-founders, with Carter Oosterhouse

Jen & Ryan, Grass Roots Flooring Co-founders, with Carter Oosterhouse

To end it all there was a closing party (we told you wood floor guys sure know how to get down!).  The festivities ended with a Harley-Davidson giveaway.  That’s right! The NWFA and 3M decided to give away a gorgeous motorcycle.  One lucky guy walked away with the grand prize (well…actually…. drove away but you get the point.)

A Great Expo

The NWFA Expo could not have been a better experience for Grass Roots Flooring.  We went to the expo with a solid plan of action, and succeeded in creating valuable connections with people of all different facets of the industry.  We eagerly anticipate next year’s event in Dallas and will continue to participate in similar events that can help Grass Roots Flooring bring our customers the best flooring products and services on the internet.

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