Despite current economic conditions, attendance for this year’s show was up 29 percent over last year’s show in Tampa, FL.
“Recognizing the economic uncertainty that looms over the country - and certainly the tile industry - the NTCA is delighted with the attendance and support we received at Total Solutions,” said Bart Bettiga, NTCA executive director. “Our tabletop event, breakout AIA/IIDA seminar program, and conference seminars, enjoyed some of the best participation we have ever experienced. The Mid-Atlantic region supported our efforts in helping to encourage local attendance, and their assistance is reflected in the positive figures. We are indebted to all who assisted us in our most comprehensive efforts ever to attract industry professionals to our conference. We look forward to capitalizing on all that we learned on how to promote and coordinate a strong conference, and look for even more success in San Antonio, TX, next year.”
The conference opened with a keynote presentation from business partnership expert Ed Rigsbee, whose presentation, “Developing Alliances and Partnerships,” offered a seven-step plan for developing successful collaborations.
Next, tile style guru Patti Fasan offered a dynamic presentation on “Advantages of Ceramic Tile vs. Competitive Products.” In her fast-paced style, Fasan discussed the benefits of ceramic tile, such as its environmentally sound production methods, and challenged the audience members to take a more aggressive stance in promoting the use of ceramic tile versus other flooring materials such as carpet, resilient and laminate.
Howard Kanare of the CTL Group, a subsidiary of the Portland Cement Association, gave a presentation on “What’s New with Concrete Floors and Moisture Issues.” Kanare offered an in-depth look at some of the most important issues regarding concrete floors, including drying issues, ASTM F1869 Standards, and an update on ASTM F2170. In discussing installation issues related to concrete moisture problems, Kanare presented a key advantage of ceramic tile over other flooring materials.
“Tile is more resistant to moisture problems than other types of flooring,” Kanare said. “This gives tile installers an important advantage in the marketplace.”
Sven Hovmand of Crossville, Inc. gave a presentation on “Total Quality Management,” using examples from Crossville’s reduction of inventory errors to stress the importance of quality management in long-term success. According to a survey cited by Hovmand, more than 90 percent of retailers surveyed would not give up a trustworthy supplier for a 10 percent price reduction. Hovmand closed his presentation by stressing the importance of properly trained installers, and urged all contractors to let the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) train and certify their employees.
Following Hovmand’s presentation, Scott Carothers of CTEF gave an update on the organization’s Certified Ceramic Tile Installer program. Changes for 2009 include the availability of home study materials as well a new Certified Installer Manual authored by CTEF, which will supplement the TCNA Manual and ANSI specifications. Carothers emphasized the value of proper installation training for the continued growth of the ceramic tile industry.
“Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the installers,” Carothers said.
A variety of technical and business presentations filled the afternoon session, including: Joe Still discussed “Movement Joints and Their Importance for Successful Tile Installations;” and J. Mathew Godwin gave a presentation on “Ownership Transfer and Management Succession Planning.
The first-day program concluded with technical installation presentations by MAPEI, LATICRETE and TEC, followed by a tabletop show featuring a variety of manufacturers of ceramic tile and related products.
Day two of Total Solutions kicked off with the election of new officers for NTCA. John Cox, president of Cox Tile in San Antonio, TX, was elected as the new president of NTCA, taking over from outgoing president Frank Canto, owner of Canto Tile & Stone in Riverview, FL. The elections were followed by a Construction Forecast for 2008/2009 by Ken Simonson of AGC, and Marc Rosencrantz, who offered a presentation on “Insurance/Risk Transfer/Safety.”
NTCA’s Gerald Sloan conducted a seminar on lippage and lighting, using an installation module to demonstrate how changes in the placement of lighting can affect lippage issues.
Eric Astrachan of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) gave a comprehensive presentation on the “TCNA 2009 Handbook and Large Format Tile Specifications and Installation Challenges.” Notable changes to the 2009 Handbook include: definitions to cleavage membrane and vapor retarder; section on accessible design; changes to F128 and C312; additions to EJ171 (Movement Joints); plans for adding environmental conditions; and Robinson Floor Testing.
Afternoon sessions included: Chip Carter and Ken Peeples of Construction Risk Services discussed “Contract Language/Documentation;” and Ron Treister of Communicators International gave a presentation on “Marketing for Contractors.” These presentations were followed by technical installation presentations from Custom Building Products and Star Quartz Industries.
Total Solutions concluded with the annual NTCA Awards Banquet. Those receiving recognition were:
- Tile Person of the Year - Tommy Cox, Memphis Tile & Marble, Memphis, TN
- Ring of Honor - Leigh Hightower, Texas Cement Products, Houston, TX; Paul Sherba, Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo, Canfield, OH
- Best Practice - Ally Fertitta Venugopal, executive director of Tile Partners for Humanity; Phil Halcomb, vice president of David Allen Company.