Charlie Bryan of Campbell Tile Company, Greenville, S.C. was honored as NTCA’s Tile Person of the Year.

Butch Woelfel (l.), Artcraft Granite Marble and Tile Co. of Mesa, Ariz., receives the contractor Ring of Honor from son James.

NTCA’s 60th Anniversary Edition of Total Solutions, its annual conference and networking event, was held October 11-13 at TradeWinds Resort at St. Pete Beach, Fla. The event drew nearly 400 attendees, a substantial increase over previous years.

“Total Solutions was an enormous success this year,” said Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director. “We were able to accomplish our goals on two fronts. We celebrated our past with a look back at 60 years of impacting the tile industry through education; and we embraced our future with 30 percent more attendees than last year. More than half of that growth was first time attendees.”

The event kicked off with an inspirational keynote speech by Frank Bucaro, who addressed the ethics of being a “good company” - an organization that people want to work for, partner with, invest in and buy from. The keys to establishing ethical companies are the pillars of reputation, trust and loyalty, moral compass, accountable leadership and stewardship.

Other speakers included Michael Stone, who delivered two sessions – one on markup and profit, and another on profitable sales for contractors. Noah Chitty of StonePeak Ceramics and Dave Gobis of CTEF examined reasons why installations fail. Mike Micalizzi addressed large format tile installations on behalf of MAPEI and Ceramic Tile of Italy. Mike Montgomery discussed the purpose and services of MMSA. Joe Still of ProFlex discussed exterior decks and balconies and David Leichsenring talked about how to develop a local contractor-networking club.

Thursday night, a three-hour tabletop event allowed contractors to mingle and learn more about exhibitor products and services. NTCA, supported by tabletop sponsors, also awarded a number of prizes during the tabletop event. Dan Wilkinson of Accuflor, won a Canon digital camera; Bob Richardson of Tile Solutions, a Columbia S.C. contractor, won a Nintendo Wii system; Bruce van der Linde of Virginia Tile, a Charlottesville, Va., contractor, won a home stereo theater; Joy Klein of Graniti Fiandre won a big screen TV; and Joseph Leichsenring, son of Davis, won the X-Box 360 Elite system.

On Friday, Dr. Albert Bates of the Profit Planning Group discussed the results of the NTCA Profit Planning Survey, followed by Jim Isaminger of D.M.I. Tile and Marble Inc., who explained how to implement a safety program. In two separate presentations, Jim Whitfield of Mer-Krete Systems and Ed Metcalf of Laticrete International addressed “green” issues affecting tile setting and construction and how products and practices help contribute to LEED certification.

Scott Carothers, executive director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, discussed the group’s tile contractor certification initiative and Alex Arcaro of Bisazza USA delivered a talk that included a live mosaic tile installation demonstration. Wally Adamchick, owner of Firestarter Speaking/Consulting wrapped up the workshops with a rousing presentation about what it takes to be a leader in business. 

Joseph Leichsenring (holding the prize) was the winning ticket holder for the X Box 360 Elite. He was willing to share the prize with the rest of the family, including his sister Laura, dad Davis and mom Luciana.

After an outdoor sunset cocktail reception, the NTCA Awards Banquet commenced, with Adamchick acting as master of ceremonies. Eric Astrachan, executive director of the Tile Council of North America, gave a fascinating presentation on the history of tile in America.

After dinner came the awards portion of the evening. NTCA president Frank Canto, owner of Canto Tile & Stone in nearby Riverview, Fla., and Jim Isaminger introducing many of the award winners. First up to be recognized were regional directors and affiliate directors who were honored for two years of service and applauded for their decision to serve another term. These included Joe Kerber, Kerber Tile Marble and Stone, Shakopee, Minn., region 8; Davis Leichsenring, Holland Tile, Rockville, Md., region 3; Michael Whistler, Whistler Tile & Stone, Bigfork, Mont., region 10; Dan Welch, Welch Tile & Marble, Kent, Mich., region 6; Andrew Vega, Tiede-Zoeller, Long Beach, Miss., region 7; and John Turner sr., distributor representative with Dal-Tile Corp., in Dallas. 

Then the Ring of Honor awards were presented. James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble and Tile, Mesa, Ariz., made the contractor Ring of Honor presentation to his father, Butch. Canto announced that NTCA legends Myra Cardwell and executive director emeritus Joe Tarver were being honored with a dual associate Ring of Honor award for their many years of service. And Isaminger announced the NTCA Tile Person of the Year – Charlie Bryan of Campbell Tile Company in Greenville, S.C.

The evening ended with a nostalgic musical photo montage developed and presented by Michelle Harrell, assistant editor/production manager and designer/advertising sales forTileLettermagazine.

On Saturday, October 13, attendees enjoyed either a deep sea fishing expedition or a golf tournament at Legacy Golf Club. The winning golf team at 11 under par was NTCA’s Bart Bettiga; Andrew Vega and Kevin Crawford of Tiede-Zoeller and Leigh Hightower of Texas Cement Products.

Dates for Total Solutions 2008 have already been established. “We look forward to an incredible program at the Gaylord National Resort next year,” Bettiga said. Total Solutions 2008 will be September 18-20 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, a world-class facility on the banks of the Potomac River set to open early in 2008 in Prince George’s County, Md.