I recently returned from Total Solutions Plus (TSP), which was held in Savannah, GA. The annual conference — organized collaboratively by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), the Tile Contractors’ Association (TCNA) and the Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) — continues to grow each year. This edition attracted more than 600 industry members, and the energy was felt among the crowd.

Ron Schwartz of J. Colavin & Son, Inc. in Los Angeles, CA, who is 2015 President and Chairman of the Board of the TCAA, greeted attendees on the first morning of the event and expressed his delight that 2015 was an excellent recovery year. He said that company owners made adjustments to their businesses in order to survive. In my opinion, that is an important statement. People need to realize that if they remain complacent, they run the risk of losing business. Especially in the tough economic times that hit several years ago, it was critical for people to do what it took to set themselves apart from their competition.

Attending an event such as TSP is one way to help do this. The conference provides numerous opportunities for networking with other industry members to discuss ideas and share experiences. It is a great way for people to learn from each other. They can then take the knowledge they gain back home with them and apply it to making improvements to their business.

TSP, as well as other industry conferences and events, also offer educational programs, which can prove invaluable. From technical sessions about advances in grout technology to seminars detailing marketing strategies and social media platforms, there is a topic to satisfy everyone’s interest.

Conference programs are also a good way keep up on the latest industry standards. With technology continually changing — leading to larger formats and thinner thicknesses of tile — it is crucial to be aware of the proper standards when it comes to installing a specific type of tile.

In particular, there has been a lot of talk lately about “Thin Porcelain Tile” or “TPT,” as it is often called. Scott Carothers addresses this issue in our Technical Focus, beginning on page 20 of this issue of TILE. “Change is inevitable and this is certainly true in the tile world with the advent of the new thinner tile products,” states Carothers. He explains that there may be some confusion in the marketplace because “New entries on the horizon may or may not fit into the existing model that we have come to acknowledge in the short term — at least until a national standard is established.” The article goes on to say that a committee is currently working to establish a material standard, which will define what the TPT category will include and not include.

For the reasons I have mentioned, attending a conference or trade show at least once a year can be beneficial. And just by the attendance at TSP this year, it is evident most of you agree. But, it is understandable how things can get busy and some might not be able to make it. In that case, you can always depend on TILE to keep you informed on the latest news and events. Look for a complete report on TSP in the next issue.