The International Surfaces Event (TISE), held last week at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, turned out to be a robust demonstration of the industry’s investment in the value of training, education, networking and support from an established association. Volunteer members working the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) booth at the show signed up an unprecedented number of new members at TISE: 24.
NTCA Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson, who oversees association membership, said, “2022 is the NTCA’s 75th Anniversary, and it started with a bang. Twenty-four new members joined the association — the most ever at TISE. It was very inspiring to see the members who volunteered to staff the NTCA booth, as they talked to potential contractors members of all ages. These volunteers were genuinely excited to share the secrets of NTCA, and give examples of why they became and have stayed members. The discussions ranged from technical training to business education, and rounded out with the networking and camaraderie the members share.”
NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga added, ““A dedicated group of NTCA members and ambassadors supported our efforts at TISE, and this led to a record number of members joining at this show.”
Eric Blumer of EJ Flooring, an NTCA member in Hallsville, Mo., and wife Jennifer both helped sign up new members during the show. “The new members seemed to search us out to get more info and join,” he said. “They had already looked through the booth descriptions and locations and were ready to know more.”
Katie Marcotte, co-owner of NTCA member company Maine Modern Tile in Otisfield, Me., said, “I loved seeing the NTCA family really show up this year.” Whether it was booth staff or other members supporting the tile family, “there is no doubt that this large demonstration of inclusion and camaraderie throughout the show and at after-hours events is what made joining our family more appealing than ever.”
Matthew Chilcott of H&C Installations LLC in Northern Colorado signed up at the TISE as a renewal. For him the “educational purposes” of NTCA membership was tantamount. Also, he said he has a son entering the industry. “I want to teach him the value of knowing other people outside our community – it’s a global industry, not just some tiny thing,” he said.
NTCA had a training van in the booth, acting as a beacon for established and new members. During the show, interviews with members and staff were videotaped, touching on the benefits of association membership and the importance of the association in the industry.
“Maybe it was the members sharing their experiences, or the NTCA training van on the floor showing the support of our industry, or the live Certified Tile Installer tests taking place at the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation booth, but one thing for sure, it was a beautiful sight seeing all these members working for the same cause: qualified labor!” Olson added.
NTCA education at the show
NTCA trainers also paired with celebrity designer Jennifer Farrell and Emser’s Brent Shoemaker to discuss working with skinny tile, exterior tile and geometric tile, hearkening to the Calibu Vineyards show home Farrell is designing in California, using Emser products. NTCA trainers also conducted installation demonstrations of these products on the live demo stage.
NTCA Technical Committee: working for the industry
Before the start of the show on Monday, January 31, NTCA held its Technical Committee meeting, with over 100 people attending to address new documents that are being considered for the 2022 NTCA Reference Manual and beyond. Approved for inclusion for the 2022 NTCA Reference Manual were the Grout in Tile Specifications document and the Field Guide for Measuring Deviation of Tile Size. A new chapter dedicated to artisan tile will be added to the 2022 NTCA Reference Manual, which will contain the document on Pre-Mounting Techniques for Mosaic Installations.
NTCA Ambassadors honored with evening event
Later that evening, NTCA held an Ambassador Reception to recognize and thank all the dedicated, hard work of NTCA Ambassadors in assisting trainers, providing information and supporting the industry through the association. Two NTCA Ambassadors of the Year were named – the first ever. The contractor Ambassador of the Year was Sal DiBlasi of Elite Tile Co., Medford, Mass., (Sal was not present at the reception, opting to remain in Massachusetts for the birth of his first grandchild); distributor Steve Slutzah of Westside Tile and Stone in Canoga Park, Calif., received the Affiliate Ambassador of the Year honor.
Two new CTIs join the fold
At the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) booth, four installers took the Certified Tile Installer Exam, and two passed: William Pino of Summit Valley Tile & Stone LLC in Las Vegas, Nev., and Brandon Cook of Stoneman Construction in Portland, Ore.
“The CTI test went very well and ran smoothly,” said Scott Carothers, CTEF Director of Certification and Training. “Woody Sanders evaluated the installers and provided his usual excellent work. Throughout the eight hours and fifty-one minutes of the hands-on test, it was standing room only by show attendees surrounding the test area. We enjoyed strong support from current CTIs who assisted the CTEF staff in answering questions and explaining the program to the inquisitive viewers.”
TISE was a training opportunity for CTI Evaluators, as well as a testing opportunity for installers. Carothers conducted a shadowing opportunity for four Evaluators in training. “This real-time review of the evaluation process moved them to the next level of becoming a CTI Evaluator,” he explained. “By growing this group, we will be able to reach more installers who desire to become a CTI and in turn provide a larger pool of qualified labor.”
TCNA: updated slip resistance standard
The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) held a press conference unveiling a new updated standard for slip resistance on hard surfaces. The national standard, ANSI A326.3, now requires hard surface flooring manufacturers to provide product use classifications based on their slip resistance properties. This encompasses ceramic tiles as well as plastic-based flooring manufacturers. To learn about the five product use categories and availability of the standard, click here.
NTCA is now planning for an exciting presence at Coverings in April. “2022 is shaping up to be a banner year for NTCA as we celebrate 75 years as a leading trade association,” said NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga. “With Coverings looming on the horizon at the Las Vegas Convention Center April 5th-8th, we have bigger and better plans to celebrate our history and look to the future together with our members. Our ambassadors and supporters are a fabulous blend of young leaders hungry to learn and network, and longtime supporters willing to mentor and share knowledge and expertise. It’s a great time to be a part of the NTCA!”