One could be excused for getting a sense of déjà vu walking onto the trade show floor at the International Window Coverings Expo held April 3 to 5 at the Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, MD. At first glance everything seemed quite familiar.
The Expo seemingly has found its watermark, as well. Attracting
some 6,500 attendees and 252 exhibitors, according to show producers
Messe Frankfurt, Inc. and Window Fashions magazine, the show is
roughly the same size as last year’s (fewer attendees, more
exhibitors) and the 2000 Baltimore show (see D&WC, June 2002,
page 62). Having weathered the U.S. economic slowdown better than
most market segments, the window coverings industry appears to have
reached a state of equilibrium, if somewhat downsized.
But the reason this is a three-day show—Thursday, Friday and
Saturday, at that—is to allow time for those attending to stop
in the booths, take a good look around and ask questions. Those
who did found many new things there.
AT A GLANCE
New products, line extensions and collections were scattered across
the trade show floor, although not always readily apparent by just
glancing at the booths. Some new products were offered by new (first-time)
exhibitors. Taking even a cursory inventory of new things to be
found can be exhaustive, but would have to include:
Hunter Douglas showcasing Heritance™, its wood shutter line
for the first time. It also featured the new 120-inch width for
Silhouette® window shadings.
Comfortex Window Fashions introduced Harmony™ a product that
brings the look and energy efficiency of cellular shades to verticals.
There also were sneak peeks at a new product not yet available in
the United States that combines cellular shades and mini-blinds.
Lutron Electronics Co. displayed a new tubular version of its Sivoia™
control systems. The internal drive makes for a sleeker headrail
and allows for adjoining shades to be placed closer together to
minimize possible light gaps.
Shutters have been among the hottest product lines of late, and
AIM Partners debuted a new composite system marketed as LaPlaya™
Shutters. A new exhibitor to the show, Coronado Block Shutters,
displayed its product, which combines a lightweight glass block
look in a shutter frame.
Aveno Window Fashions also had a new shutter line at this year’s
show as well as a new stainable woven wood, which was displayed
on the company’s panel track system. Speaking of woven woods,
B & W Mfg. introduced no fewer than 70 new patterns and weaves
to its woven woods line.
In the high-tech end of the business, Solatech and Easy Quote demonstrated
upgrades to their respective industry software covering pricing,
measuring and quoting. Solatech has added new shutter fabrication
software. First-time exhibitor, Evan Marsh Designs, received a lot
of attention for its DreamDraper™, a computer-based program
with hundreds of window and door treatment components that can be
sized, combined and layered for making in-home presentations.
Another new exhibitor that received a lot of attention was the The
Felters Group showcasing its new FirmaFlex™ mounting board.
The board can be used in the same way as plywood, but is lighter
and can flex to create arches or other specialty shapes.
In no way could this be a comprehensive list. New sheer styles and
fabric colors were displayed in ADO’s Art of Living booth,
updated colorways were featured in trimmings by Conso and D’Kei,
Gilmore Enterprises showcased a new cellular product, and on and
As in past shows, educational sessions were held on the trade show
floor. In the Springs Window Fashions booth—supported by its
major fabricators: Window Fashions, Inc.; Essex Sales & Marketing
Group; and Anderson Fabrics—Bruce Knott, manager of dealer
sales and training development, presented regular sessions on Synergy
Shades, something of a combination between a pleated shade and a
sheer, burnout roller shade. Hunter Douglas held product training
and sales seminars in its booth, and the Custom Home Furnishings
Trade School held fabrication sessions as well.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES
You’d be hard pressed to find an exhibitor who didn’t
prefer this year’s Thursday to Saturday schedule. In recent
past years, with a Friday to Sunday schedule, the last day of the
event has been particularly slow. Nearly every exhibitor this year
agreed that Thursday’s attendance exceeded any of the past
That fact hasn’t gone unnoticed. The same Thursday to Saturday
schedule will be in effect next year when the Expo returns to the
Baltimore Convention Center April 15 to 17, 2004.