8:00 am - 9:30 am

Stone Featured Session: Internet Marketing Way Beyond Your Website
Speaker: Marty Gould, Focalize Now
Internet marketing is changing-rapidly. Five years ago, Facebook and YouTube were just being born. Now, technology and techniques that were state-of-the-art just a few years ago are totally obsolete. The days of putting up a website and expecting traffic and leads are long gone. Today’s online marketing is all about creating meaningful, worthwhile content, relevant to your target customers and getting it distributed through multiple channels: social media, online PR, video, e-mail and, yes, even your website. If you’re dissatisfied, confused or frustrated with your current online marketing efforts, this is the one seminar at Coverings that you absolutely must attend. It will change the way you think about, and utilize, the Internet forever. How are consumers finding you? During this fast-paced session, you'll pick up tips to help you maximize your marketing presence. This course will include demonstrations of proper keyword and tag usage, provide critical insight on how to how to target your audience to increase website traffic and obtain customers via Search Engine rankings. Gain new insight into the tricks of online search capabilities and what you should be discussing with your webmaster. You'll be better prepared to make sure you are in the right place when customers are looking for a stone contractor in your market.

8:00 am - 9:00 am

Confessions of a Tile Industry Consultant
Speaker: David Gobis, Tile Consultant
Dave Gobis is one of the most recognized experts in the tile and stone industry related to the proper installation of ceramic tile and natural stone. A former contractor and the past Executive Director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Gobis now is called upon on numerous projects as a recognized tile industry consultant. He will share with the audience common problems he encounters in the field and will share his ideas on how to prevent them for occurring.

Avoid Your Worst Nightmare: Protect Your Tile Company from Fraud and Theft
Speaker: Bart Bettiga, National Tile Contractors Association; Andre Hutchison, Dillon Tile and Stone
Tile Contracting companies are often family owned or small businesses. They often grow from very small to more complex business models. Often, policies and procedures are not developed quickly enough to protect the business in its growth stages. The speakers will speak candidly about personal experience related to what can happen when these policies are not enforced and how to develop this to make sure it does not happen to you.

The Future of the U.S. Economy and of the Ceramic Tile Market
Speaker: Donato Grosser, D. Grosser and Associates, Ltd
This session will examine the US economy and its effects on the housing markets in its main segments - residential, commercial and remodeling. The effects on ceramic tile demand will be analyzed and a forecast of future consumption, by market segment, will be presented. Don’t miss this annual Coverings “must see” session!

From Chaos to Calm: Transforming Tile Stores Into Serene Showrooms
Speaker: Kim Bernard, Walker Zanger
Have you thought about how potential clients feel when they enter your store? Have you thought about the fact that you can influence how your clients feel to drive more sales? Join us and learn some simple things you can do to improve your store (and your bottom line!) In this session, you will learn the importance of practical issues such as product organization and the value of a good space plan. We’ll explore the importance of creating a lasting good impression. You will learn how to appeal to the 5 senses to establish an emotional connection with your clients. We will also review many of the practical issues of store planning including lighting, education and interaction. Throughout, we will review some simple actions you can take to change your store environment which will make buying and selling easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

Sustainability - Buzzword or the Next Big Thing?
Speaker: Dan Marvin, Florida Tile
Everyone hears the word "sustainability" thrown around in environmental discussions but what does Sustainability really mean? Is it just a buzzword which will quickly fade or an important trend in better defining 'green' product attributes?

This seminar will look into the sustainability movement and attempt to better define what sustainability means. The tile industry in particular has a great story to tell about sustainability, so it is important to be able to talk knowledgably about it, especially when selling to clients. We will also examine the next likely developments for sustainability in green building standards like LEED and NAHB.

9:15 am - 10:15 am

Tile Underlayment Systems: A Revolution in Industry Standards and Practices
Speakers: Tom Duve, National Applied Construction Products, Inc.; Richard Goldberg, Procon Professional Consultants International LLC; Al Grazzini, Grazzini Brothers
The evolution of thin-bed tile underlayment systems has created a revolution in the floor tile industry. From crack isolation to waterproofing and sound control; tile underlayment systems have truly revolutionized the way tile and stone are installed. We will take an in-depth look at the history of these standards and how these systems are continuing to be the prominent choice for tile and stone installers. You will hear case studies from industry leaders such and they will share their experiences on how thin-bed underlayment systems helped reshape the way tile and stone are used today. In the current TCA handbook, these styles of membranes have evolved into over 25 standards & practices for waterproofing, crack isolation, sound control, shower receptors, tubs, decks, balconies and more. These low profile underlayment systems became so popular, that in 2005, vigorous tests were required through the American National Standard Specification for the Installation of Ceramic Tile (ANSI) for thin-bed crack isolation, waterproofing & sound control membranes. Learn from industry leaders and professionals in tile underlayment systems on the past, present and future of these standards and practices.

What Every Tile Contractor Needs to Know About Lawsuit Protection, Tax Reduction, and Estate Planning
Speaker: Larry Oxenham, American Society for Asset Protection
From this presentation, you will learn lawsuit protection, tax reduction, and estate planning strategies most advisors are unaware of. Understand the sources of lawsuits tile contractors are exposed to and how to prevent them. How you, as a tile contractor, can protect 100% of your professional and personal assets from lawsuits and how you can protect your business, property, and personal assets in the event of a judgment in excess of liability insurance or an exclusion in a policy. Discussion will include how to avoid the most common asset protection mistakes made by tile contractors and their advisors and how tile contractors can minimize vicarious liability for the acts of other professionals and staff. This session will also address five strategies tile contractors can use to reduce income taxes by up to 40% each year and how you can eliminate the capital gains tax on the sale of a business, real estate, stocks or other assets. What should you be doing now to prepare for successful business secession? Learn techniques you can use to avoid probate and eliminate all estate taxes to pass assets to heirs tax free and how to effectively use corporations, trusts, wills, and family limited partnerships.

Ceramic Tile Specification: Facts, Myths & Tools
Speaker: Ryan Fasan, Professional Attention to Tile Installations
Specification of ceramic tile doesn’t need to be a confusing process. This session strives to clear the proverbial waters by debunking common myths, detailing useful facts and offering all the tools required to ensure a successful ceramic tile specification under any circumstances. Becoming a ceramic expert is easier than you think! A simple and efficient client interview detailing the scope of the project, intended use, level of traffic, and expected maintenance, provides all of the information required to provide a quality, performance-based spec. The four distinct types of tile bodies create a no-nonsense rule of thumb that will ensure the right type of tile is chosen for any area. There is in fact a tile for every use and a use for every tile. Benefits and drawbacks of both glazed and unglazed formats will be highlighted, including a detailed look at glazing methods and abrasion resistance ratings. The final piece of every successful specification is an ISO datasheet. Attendees will learn how to read pertinent details from these technical evaluations and understand their importance in providing lifelong performance.

A good specifier knows that installation is a crucial step in the process of a quality ceramic tile project. Simple installation guidelines including tips on expansion joints, large formats, material inspection and more will ensure the project’s long term success. With the simple facts and tools gained in this session anyone can select ceramic tile with confidence and exceed their client’s expectations.

The Nine Essentials to Effectively Sell to the Affluent
Speaker: Christopher P. Ramey, Affluent Insights
The wealthiest 10% of Americans are responsible for 50% of the total retail sales. This special niche has a fundamentally different perspective than the mass market. So, it’s no surprise that the messaging and marketing that resonates with the affluent is fundamentally different than the middle market. Most hard surface flooring is luxury marketed like a mass product. No wonder that hard surface is losing it’s share of the flooring market! In the future the most successful companies will be those that are customer-centric. This presentation is important because knowing luxury and affluent consumers is imperative to selling high-end products.

We’ll discuss and make sense of the latest research, as well as use other luxury brands as case studies. Attendees will take-away an understanding of who the affluent are, their beliefs and attitudes, and the messages and merchandising necessary to effectively resonate with them.

Practical Marketing for Small Businesses: Improving Your Digital Visibility
Speaker: Christine Whittemore, Simple Marketing Now LLC
Marketing and promoting your business matter now more than ever in a world where customers educate themselves online first. You must be digitally visible. The challenge, though, for many small businesses is finding the resources [including people] to market effectively while also running day-to-day operations. How then to prioritize what you do so you don’t neglect activities that connect with customers online and offline, while also delivering business results?

The solution has to do with thinking about how you deliver value to customers, creating content that addresses your customers’ needs, and consistently making use of that content across all of your customer touch points. In other words, developing a plan that integrates all of your marketing activities.

Using specific flooring and tile examples, this session will demonstrate the value of improving your digital visibility and developing a consistent content strategy to effectively manage the marketing tools available and engage with potential customers to deliver business results.

The New Normal
Speaker: Sara Gutterman, Green Builder Media
Though we find ourselves on the road to recovery, the route is unfamiliar. It’s clear that there is no predictable new normal. Because the recession has been so severe and prolonged, consumers have begun to reset their values, expectations, and lifestyles. This session will explore changing valuation metrics, the emerging green economy, and products for our future.

9:30 am - 10:30 am

Digital Integration – A Fabricator’s Perspective
Speaker: Duane Burke, Eco Breeze Inc.; Miles Crowe, Crowe Custom Countertops, Inc.
Fabricators need to take notice – the digital age is here to stay! This seminar will define what digital technology is in the countertop industry and the benefits and challenges of taking your shop digital.

Learn about questions you should be asking your equipment suppliers to make sure you are prepared. Discover the impact on your staffing levels and training needs. Find out how two fabricators have profited from digital integration.

New Opportunities in Glass and Jadestone Surfacing Materials
Speakers: Evan Kruger, Nisa Surfaces, LLC; Nao Takahashi, Alpha Professional Tools; Jonathan Mitnick, CCS Stone, Inc.
Crystallized glass, recycled glass panels, Jadestone (winner of Coverings Select 2010 Engineered Stone) and other high density slab materials are new to the market. These materials have unique properties that specifiers, designers and fabricators must be aware of to successfully offer these products. Learn how handling and fabricating these products are different, yet can compliment natural stone. Join this panel discussion and explore the unique characteristics, techniques and benefits of this category long in need of something new to offer the consumer!

10:30 am - 11:30 am

Right-Sizing Their Homes and Your Business
Speaker: Gale Steves, Author, Right-Sizing Your Home
Right-Sizing is really space management... the key to learning to live fully throughout the home. In this economy, this concept can help consumers improve when they cannot move or manage their expectations when they do move. In this session, Gale Steves, author of Right-Sizing Your Home, will help designers and architects understand how to apply the idea of right-sizing to their clients’ homes and businesses. Recognize how to benefit when you help your client live within their space.

Environmental Ceramic Tile: Gray Area or Green?
Speaker: Patti Fasan, Professional Attention to Tile Installations
Ceramic tile is one of the most sustainable building materials. However, the embodied energy associated with overseas transportation and a lack of post consumer recycled content keeps ceramic tile from making most “green” materials list. Facts are seldom black and white but the common sense sustainable benefits of tile are not a gray area; they are decidedly green.

According to Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & Founding Chairman, USGBC, “people productivity is perhaps the smoking gun that will propel the Green movement”. Never before has there been a more opportune time to uncover the truths about ceramic tile.

The indoor air quality benefits create a positive impact on people and this one feature only begins to scratch the surface of ceramic tiles’ sustainable benefits. While energy and water conservation have been prime directives of the LEED program, the next generation of initiatives will focus on user health and productivity.

Environmental issues regarding: Indoor Air Quality; occupant health & safety; product durability and replacement frequency; affordability; maintenance/cleaning products and the ecosystem as well as the burden on landfill sites will have participants questioning whether they have addressed all aspects of building green.

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm

Balconies, Decks and Exterior Installations
Speaker: Representative from Schluter Systems
One of the fastest growing segments in the tile and stone industry is installing natural stone and ceramic tile on exterior decks and balconies. These installations can be highly profitable, but if installed incorrectly, can carry significant liability. The speaker will share with the audience their experience related to the proper design, specification and installation for these types of installations.

Architecture and Design Featured Session: Color Directions: Twists. Turns and Trends
Speaker: Leatrice Eiseman, Eiseman and Associates, Inc.
The road map to color for 2012 is filled with interesting new directions. Some paths lead to exhilarating tones that encourage the prospective buyer or client to forge ahead into adventures with novel color combinations, while others invite them to stop for a moment, take a deep breath, relax and consider the more classic hues in a different kind of “mix”. The continuing challenge and goal will be in keeping the consumer visually engaged by blending the playful with the practical. To reach that destination, color is the compass. This session will guide you through future color and style directions.

2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Introducing Social Media into Your Stone Company’s Marketing Plan
Speaker: Sarah Johnson, Mktng Dept
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media tools are engulfing the world of communication today. User demographics show that it’s not just the 20-something age group using these communication tools. This session will cover some “easy to implement” strategies to get your stone business into the social media world. Several case studies will be presented to showcase “best practices” that will demonstrate that how to get started and manage existing and new relationships through social media.

Maintenance & Problem Solving 101 - What To Use, What To Know & Why
Speaker: Rod Sigman, Custom Building Products
Understand the what products to use for maintenance of tile and stone installations and why. Learn the difference between alkalines, acids and solvents and where each should be used. Learn why common grocery store and many janitorial cleaners are not good for maintaining tile and stone installations. Attendees will learn how to prolong the life of sealers, remove stains, prevent damage to grout, tile and stone by understanding the role of proper maintenance.

Shareholder Disputes and their Impact on Family Businesses/Partnerships
Speaker: Duane Burke, Eco Breeze Inc.
Many stone companies are family owned or partnerships. Learn about the importance of “pre-nups”, operating agreements, and exit agreements including pre-agreed valuation method, etc. Duane Burke will share the ramifications and impact on your business if no agreements exist and/or are not followed. In today's business environment, have the right documents in place are crucial to maintaining a clear path for your business.

Understanding Your Financial Rights with Customers
Speaker: William Maud, BBA, MACE, CHRD, ABD, Cer-Tile Designs
This presentation will expose subcontractors and other industry professionals to their financial rights regarding a customer’s obligation of payment. The law concept of "Quantum Meruit" will be explained in depth with industry examples and workable solutions.
Preparing the Substrate for Swimming Pools: TCNA P602-11 New Method
Speakers: David Fatula and Brian Fitzpatrick, Oceanside Glass
This session will provide an in-depth discussion of the origin and development of this new addition to the 2011 TCA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation. Each aspect of the method will be discussed to include: recommended uses, tank requirements & preparation, installation materials, membrane options and movement joints.

Mosaics: Updating a Timeless and Inspired Art Form
Moderator: Edie Cohen, Interior Design
Speakers: David Palmer, Palmer Marble and Tile; Blake Goodwin, Artaic – Innovative Mosaic; Others TBD
A timeless art form, mosaics require not only an aesthetic eye but also technical prowess to make the design and installation a success. The collaboration of the designer and installer as artists are key to a final product that has the look and feel of the original concept. With current technological advances, this medium is becoming more accessible and affordable in both residential and commercial projects. Join this panel, moderated by Edie Cohen of Interior Design Magazine, to learn how designers and installers approach mosaics from development to installation and how technology is now playing a role in these projects.

Power Persuasion: Unleash Your Hidden Influence Skills
Speaker: Maura Schreier-Fleming, Best@Selling
If you're looking for an edge in business today and want to be prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow, persuasion strategies can be just what you need. Successful business professionals know which persuasion strategies to use and how to use them. You can enhance your credibility to be more persuasive. There are persuasive words and word strategies that will make you more persuasive. How you prove what you say can make you more persuasive. There are simple and effective ways to incorporate more persuasion in your business with clients and customers. You can use these strategies, but only if you know what they are and how to use them.

Customer Retention Strategies
Speaker: Lisbeth Calandrino, Fabulous Floors Magazine
When the economy is tough, businesses spend more time recruiting new customers rather than taking care of existing customers. In addition the average businesses loses annually 10% of its cutomers. Retention strategies must be defined and measured if companies are to survive – the average business loses 10% of their customers on a yearly basis.

Living Ecologically – Sustainable Style with Stone and Tile
Speaker: Patricia Gaylor, Eco Interiors by Patricia Gaylor
What makes a green house one that’s not only energy efficient but also is quite simply just a great place to live? We are learning more and more every day about the practice of green building, but what about the interior of the home? Can the inside be as green as the outside? And are there compromises to be made because a product is “green”? Are there a limited amount of green interior materials out there? Taking a holistic approach to home design, and “greening” not only the building envelope and systems but also the materials selection within is the best way to achieve all your goals and create a home that’s enduring, healthy and above all, a nurturing haven. And when building a green home to sell, selecting sustainable materials for the interior can put you well ahead of the competition and make your project a stand-out. Join this session as we identify the 4 elements of green design for interior spaces including: 1) Indoor Air Quality - paints, adhesives, additives, chemicals, etc.; 2) Energy Efficiency- appliances, lighting; 3) Water Conservation-bathroom and kitchen water saving plumbing fixtures; and 4) Materials Selection- Learn which stone and tile products are ‘green’, and why and what makes them green, from the manufacturing processes to their lifecycle and how they affect indoor air quality.