Coverings 25: An interview with industry veteran Pedro Riaza

Pedro Riaza (photo courtesy of El Comercio)
The tile and stone industry in the United States has grown enormously over the past 25 years. Pedro Riaza, the Secretary General of the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturers’ Association, is one of a few individuals who were especially invaluable to that growth, uniting the industry together in the first tile + stone trade show – Coverings. In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the show, we sat down with Riaza to talk about the first Coverings, how the industry has grown and changed over the years, and his most memorable moment.
What significance does the Coverings 25th Anniversary have for you?
It means that we supported a good idea 25 years ago, bringing the industry together and embarking in a joint effort to help the U.S. tile market grow and develop.
What is your most memorable Coverings moment?
When Jerry Fisher passed away in 1997, we all felt a little orphaned. He was instrumental in helping our industry to join forces and create the new trade show. We decided to rename our yearly award in his honor, making the 1998 Awards Ceremony a memorable and very moving moment.

ASCER gives out the “Jerry Fisher Memorial Prize” to agents, distributors, and other professionals who have distinguished themselves in promoting the Spanish Tile Industry at Coverings each year.
How did the advent of Coverings as the first tile and stone trade show affect the industry?
Before 1990, the industry was divided into two trade shows that were competing with each other. The first Anaheim 1990 show experienced its share of difficulties (Hall D was not available on time, and a contingency plan was executed to overcome this), but it was the start of a new era of cooperation amongst the main stakeholders.
What is the biggest difference between your first Coverings and Coverings today?
The main difference is in the market. A new generation is now present, with more components from all sides. It is a promising and complex new reality, but in the end we now look to a much broader market for tile, and to a product that has evolved dramatically to better meet the demands.