This year, Total Solutions Plus (TSP) took place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN, from October 27 to 29. For the last 10 years, TSP has welcomed countless professionals in the tile industry to network and learn from each other. The annual event — which attracts distributors, manufacturers, contractors and designers alike — is hosted collaboratively by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA).

On the first morning of the conference, award-winning speaker, sales strategist and training coach, Dean Minuto, kicked off the event with his welcoming keynote entitled, “Get to Yes Faster.” Minuto is the president of Yescalate in West Chester, PA, who presented a unique set of tools distilled from more than 100 years of research in the decision sciences that has been applied directly in his work with thousands of CEOs and executives. Known by many as “The One Page Sales Coach,” Minuto has the unique ability to present massively distilled summary courses in brain science with single-sheet tools that can be used to “get to yes faster.”

“It’s our duty to be curious; it’s the way we show our customers we care,” Minuto explained to the audience. “We want to discover what their problems are and how we can make a difference in their world.”

Following Minuto’s engaging seminar, various informative sessions were available to attendees, which explored important industry topics. A panel of three general contractors — Josh Meadows of JE Dunn Construction in Nashville, TN; Roger Baum of Core Construction in Frisco, TX; and Sam Bruce of Visalia Tile in Visalia, CA — shared their perspectives on the current tile and stone industry in a jam-packed technical breakout. “Another recession is coming, the question is, ‘when?’” Baum said, adding how his company has been diversifying sectors in order to manage personnel during periods of less work. “We’re putting in a lot of work to weather that storm when it does come. It’s wise to start planning because it is going to happen, whether we like it or not.”

Meadows, who believes the next recession will occur within five years, said his company is doing the same thing to prepare. “Having the discipline to say ‘no’ to private jobs and take on more government jobs is important,” he said.

“Bidding does change when the recession hits,” Bruce added. “When we can do commercial work and also have a residential side of the business, it’s diversified and it helps us keep people over the long-term.”

In order to get more trained professionals in the construction industry due to the skilled labor shortage, the panelists also discussed how recruiting high schoolers has been crucial. “We started to engage with the high schoolers and inform them about how much construction professionals make, which sometimes they don’t know,” Baum explained. “Sometimes, trades offer the same potential upgrades as other careers. Not all people are made to go to college; we have to be out there educating them about these other opportunities that exist in the trade.”

“We’re competing with industries outside of the construction industry,” Bruce said. “We’re trying to show anyone who comes to work for us that there is a career path. We have been able to retain more people by doing that, and maybe we’re paying higher wages than our competitors by offering benefits and whatnot, but we found that’s what people are looking for.”

On the last day of TSP, the closing keynote speech was given by Chris McChesney, co-author of the best-selling book in the world on strategy execution, The 4 Disciplines of Execution. McChesney is the global practice leader of execution for FranklinCovey and one of the primary developers of the book. For more than a decade, he has led FranklinCovey’s ongoing design and development of these principles, as well as the consulting organization that has achieved growth in many countries around the world and impacted hundreds of organizations.

The next edition of TSP will be held from October 25 to 27, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.

During the tabletop exhibits, we discovered a variety of new products on the market, which you can view above, in the image slideshow.