Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director; Paul Dinkel, Ring of Honor recipient; Scott Carothers, 2005 Tile Person of the Year; Jim Isaminger, Ring of Honor recipient; and Joe A. Tarver, NTCA executive director emeritus.

The National Tile Contractors Association held its annual Total Solutions conference in Las Vegas this past September. The convention came together despite the staff's compromised circumstances - finalizing conference details on laptops and in sweltering offices with computers powered by a generator - in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's impact on Jackson, Miss., where NTCA headquarters is located.

A record 407 attendees walked the halls to learn about a range of topics, from new trends and profitability to concrete flatness and ventilated facades. TILE columnist Patti Fasan kicked off the event with her presentation "Reminiscing the Future," an overall discussion of where the industry has been and where it is going.

Sixty sponsoring manufacturing organizations supported the event, which featured two days of tabletop networking, coupled with about 15 technical and business seminars over a three-day period. The 60 tabletop exhibitors represented a 71 percent increase from tabletop participants in Charlotte two years ago, the NTCA said.

At the awards dinner Friday night, NTCA recognized members and industry icons for their contributions to the industry. Scott Carothers, NTCA chairman of the board and owner of Long's Tile in Altoona, Pa., was presented with the Tile Person of the Year award. He noted that receiving the award was a "humbling experience - to be listed with industry icons. It is a thrill to be a part of NTCA and go through the chairs, and do the little I can to make a difference for someone else."

Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director, presented the association's first Best Practices Awards to Bruce van der Linde of Virginia Tile, Charlottesville, Va., and Dan Welch of Welch Tile & Marble, Kent City, Mich., for marketing and education respectively.

Joe Tarver, executive director emeritus of NTCA, presented the second annual Ring of Honor awards to Jim Isaminger, owner of DMI Tile & Marble in Birmingham, Ala., and Paul E. Dinkel, creator of WonderBoard. Ring of Honor awards are presented to members who "have played a significant role in our association as well as the industry as a whole," the NTCA said.