News & Press: President's Letter

March 2020 President's Letter

Monday, February 10, 2020  
Posted by: Trish Moss
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Where do you live? Tiletopia or Tiletropolis?

In Tiletopia, substrates are perfectly flat, true and square. Clients diligently seek out the highest-quality, most professional installer they can find, and happily pay them the full amount of their responsible quote because they are confident that a principled, competent, well-trained professional is being retained to deliver a first-class project. 

Cut to Tiletropolis: rough, poorly bonded substrates are common. No allowance exists to repair or replace conditions that will surely lead to failure. Preceding trades do not complete critical tasks, assuring difficulty for follow-on trades in a cascading, snowballing descent into disaster. Five-spot trunk slammer con-artists infuriate and disappoint clients who were intent on finding loopholes in your agreement that allowed them to hold up or not pay you anyway. Grim stuff, right!?! 

The good news is, fairy tales really can come true! You just need to do your best to control which place you live. For the past few months, the President’s Letters have talked about knowing your worth, preparing, being organized to deliver a high-quality product; essentially protecting yourself to lessen the chance that you become the one paying for others’ mistakes.  

How do you move closer to Tiletopia? Knowing and getting paid for your expertise, being in control of your outcomes by steering the job one way or the other, and finally, choosing jobs and clients that move you closer to your desired destination. We wish all of our projects resided in Tiletopia.  But sometimes, even when we see it coming, Tiletropolis sneaks in to undermine our hard work and training. 

Planning is the cure for the slide into Tiletropolis, but it requires you to continually evaluate if your decisions are on track so you do not get absorbed by today’s crisis du jour. As stated before, “Not having a target is a sure way to not hit one.” Once you have a target, it is an art form to keep focused on it. Perhaps even more difficult is bringing others into your plan to help push it along.  

According to my preferred recollection of a construction era gone by, every job had a weathered, seasoned old guy on site. He had an un-lit (sometimes lit) cigar permanently affixed in the corner of his mouth. He’s the superintendent. He built the structure from the ground up. He walked the site, continually observing how every nut and bolt was being installed. He was completely comfortable telling you how to do your job correctly, and he was usually right.  If you were doing something different, he challenged you on the how and why. If you had a good answer and taught him something, you received his stamp of approval and he plowed the road for you. He became your partner, one that was invested in keeping the project firmly rooted in Tiletopia. He helped you do a good job because together you were getting it done. It was not always pretty – sometimes it was acrimonious – but always well-intentioned.

Fortunately, there is a whole bunch of support out there to help you get to where you want to be. This industry has so many amazing people prepared to go way outside of their job descriptions or comfort zones to help you do better: people whose goal is to contribute to the success of others, which makes them more successful. How cool is that?  It is, in fact, the only reason the NTCA exists. If you need help identifying available resources, reaching out to NTCA is a great first start. If we can’t answer your question directly, we can tell you who may have an answer for you. Executing a successful project is always challenging, but preparation will have an impact and is the best way to control the outcome of your jobs. In other words, are you proactively working to reside in Tiletopia? Your home address is up to you. 

Chris Walker
NTCA President
Vice President, David Allen Company
Chairman, ANSI A-108
Chairman, US TAG ISO TC-189
Board of Directors ABC-VA
Voting Member TCNA Handbook
Voting Member 
NTCA Reference Manual
chriswalker@davidallen.com