News & Press: President's Letter

Coverings 2019 President's Letter

Friday, March 15, 2019  
Posted by: Trish Moss
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You have to see this!

A friend of mine used a story I told him in an article recently. It was about my first trip to Coverings (International Tile and Stone Expo – ITSE – at the time). Seeing it written and reading his take-away from my experience reminded me of the importance of attending these industry events.

As far as I can put together, that first experience was about 25 years ago. At that time, I was a small independent contractor installing mostly high-end residential projects. I had been in the business for a few years and I knew I needed to learn more. I was looking for more knowledge, more training, more money, MORE… 

The manager of a local tile store told me about the NTCA. It sounded exactly like what I was looking for: a group of like-minded industry professionals. Okay, I’m in! I sent in my check, got my plaque, my three-ring binder and my official membership pin. Now I was off to Miami to see these folks at ITSE. My wife asked me, “So you’re going where? What are you going to be doing there?” At the time it was a big financial decision. Committing money for flights, hotel and travel expenses translated directly into how much money went to the household income that month. Many of you know what I am talking about.

I was excited; I could not wait to get there. I had some good experience under my belt. I was ready to talk tile. NTCA had a room for members. I was going to light it up. After being blown away by the number of exhibitors, I got to the “Contractors Lounge.” Three guys were huddled around a small table. There was no room for another chair and they were deep in conversation. These were clearly sage experienced men, the guys I had come to meet. They barely looked up. Nothing. Didn’t they know how much it had taken me to get there and how excited I was? Needless to say, it was disappointing. I did not know it at the time, but I had just learned an important life lesson. It taught me that sometimes, slowing down to meet and speak with someone you don’t know can really be a lot more important than what you perceive as a pressing priority.

Today I can unequivocally tell you it is different. Bart, Jim and all of the NTCA staff, as well as the Coverings Board of Directors, strive to do everything possible to create an environment attractive to contractors, users and NTCA membership. Contractor tours, Installation & Design Experience, installation competitions, hands-on and scheduled training geared to educate all of us along with the tile and stone community at the show. Now that’s the point! YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS! 

Once you come, you will keep coming back. Most folks do. Every single time you come to one of these events, whether it’s Coverings or a similar event, it is certain that you will leave with something positive and important, if you are looking for it. Are you seeking greater knowledge, a better understanding of new products, a new friend or mentor? Or maybe you are in search of a better relationship with a supplier who could be instrumental to your success. Opportunities abound, classes, professional development, seminars and training and incredible keynote speakers. Then of course, there is always the social aspect. But that’s another letter…

This is not intended to be a cheerleading session for NTCA and Coverings. The point is that if you keep coming back, the benefits you will reap will definitely be worth it. If you can’t make it this year, plan to come in 2020. Or make sure you get to another industry- or NTCA-sponsored event. There are a bunch of folks who spend a great deal of time making sure you don’t walk in a room without feeling like you are a part of something bigger. Maybe you can be that person to make someone new feel welcome. I look forward to seeing you. I hope we can find a few minutes to connect. (And, by the way, thanks Brad!)

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