Time and time again, we hear about the importance of education. As a distributor, it is vital to educate your customer on the various types of stone and tile products on the market, and how certain ones might be better suited for some applications rather than others. From an installation perspective, it is critical to understand the product that is being installed — especially nowadays with oversized tile and thin thicknesses. It is often wise to seek instructions from the tile manufacturer before beginning an installation.

The industry, in general, is stressing the need for quality installations. As a result, the ACT program committee was formed in October of 2012, and included five of the leading tile industry labor organizations, including the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) and the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA). The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) was subsequently added to the committee bringing the support of its manufacturing members, who were pivotal in the development of the ACT curriculum.

Since its inauguration, the program has certified a number of installers. Testing has taken place during The International Surface Event (TISE) West and Coverings. It is good to see that many installers have a desire to produce only high-quality installations for their customers by keeping abreast of new standards.

All of the trade shows offer an education program, which also makes it convenient to learn about new developments in the industry. Additionally, Total Solutions Plus (TSP) has grown to become quite the event in the tile industry. The annual conference, organized collaboratively by the NTCA, the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), the TCNA and the TCAA, not only provides networking opportunities, but educational and accredited seminars.

I have been attending TSP for several years now, and have witnessed its growth. Last year, nearly 600 people attended. I always take away something after the event — whether being informed about new developments in the industry or meeting someone new who wants to contribute to the magazine. And I enjoy watching the interaction among industry members. It is obvious that everyone who is there is dedicated to the industry and has an appreciativeness of learning from each other.

This year, TSP heads to Savannah, GA, from October 24 to 27th. To learn more details about the conference, you can turn to page 44 of this issue of TILE Magazine. There is a full lineup of educational seminars that is worth checking out. I know I will be attending them.  I hope to see you there.