I mentioned that this was my first trip to Total Solutions Plus, which took place this past October. I was fortunate to become MAPEI’s Manager of Technical Services in July of this year; part of my new role is to represent MAPEI at industry meetings. On Saturday morning at TSP, I attended a TCNA Handbook meeting and, after a brief lunch, I attended a NTCA Technical Committee meeting. On Sunday morning, I attended more meetings and, that afternoon, I had some free time where I looked back over my notes.
I had met so many people from across North America and the rest of the world, it began to feel overwhelming. That feeling began to intensify as I looked over the schedule and realized that the conference had not even officially started – the opening keynote address was on Monday morning. Monday was a busy day where the opening keynote address was followed by breakout sessions with topics that ranged from “A General Contractor’s Perspective on the Ceramic Tile Industry” to “Changing Your Company’s Mindset to Recruit, Train, Retain Future Tile Setters.” Throw in an awards lunch and the “Table Top Exhibits” that evening, and you have another full day. The last day of TSP featured the closing keynote address, more breakouts, another awards lunch, and a country-western-themed dinner and party to close out the event.
Wednesday evening after the event, I was at home sitting on my couch and my wife asked me what I thought about the conference. I stared at the ceiling for a long moment as the previous five days flashed through my mind’s eye. “Different” was my response. I saw the look on her face that indicated I should probably expand on that answer, so I attempted to explain.
What makes this event different is what also makes the tile industry different from the other segments of the flooring industry. The collaboration of different industry organizations and their respective members is uncommon. The tile industry has product standards, installation standards, methods, best practices, handbooks and reference manuals – no other segment of the flooring industry can compare to this type of organization. The meetings at this type of event are how tile-industry standards and documents are created and updated. Many of the people involved have dedicated years to the industry while still managing their “day jobs” that either produce or deliver the products or, ultimately, install the tile. I am excited, if not still slightly overwhelmed, at the opportunity to carry that banner of collaboration into the future. My hope is that the next generation of industry professionals will see the value of these efforts and get involved in helping shape the future of their industry.
Overall, my experience at Total Solutions Plus was a positive one. As a representative of an installation-materials manufacturer, I understand my perspectives and priorities may not always align with distribution or tile contractors. Having a forum to discuss these differences and share our challenges and ideas with each other is crucial to promoting healthy growth in our industry. I appreciate the opportunity Total Solutions Plus offered to bring all these groups together and for providing that platform. After my introduction to TSP, I can say the future appears bright for the tile industry and I am excited to be a part of it.