News & Press: President's Letter

October 2020 President's Letter

Thursday, October 8, 2020  
Posted by: Trish Moss
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Mistake or opportunity?
If someone asks you what your biggest tile mistake was, is there something that jumps to mind? For me, that list is longer than I’d like it to be. Your mistake likely cost you a bunch of money, embarrassed you professionally, or ended a relationship with a customer or vendor. If it was an installation failure, was it the catalyst that made you do homework on how to improve your installation practices? Was it an opportunity to learn how to do it better? Could you use it as an opportunity to collaborate and strengthen a relationship with a vendor, supplier, or customer? That is the optimal result. 

No matter how long you have been doing what you are doing, there is always much to learn. If you find yourself in a challenging position, reach out to someone you respect or who handles themselves in a manner you admire. They may be your sounding board. Good information is always available from good vendors. They are interested in training and supporting people who are invested in doing it right. Training you translates to less risk for them. When you do your job well, they are less likely to spend time dealing with a claim or an unhappy customer. Most importantly, they are developing a relationship with you, their next key customer, and advocate for their product! 

A project comes to mind where we were not allowed to correct imperfections that were easy to fix. According to the builder, the owner was unhappy with the material they had selected. In my opinion, the client was attempting to push their dissatisfaction with their own specification back on to us as an excuse to not pay for something and get it changed. This dragged on and on, and I let it trouble me and allowed my frustration to color my responses. I had forgotten that everyone had their own interest to protect and theirs would not align with mine. It had become difficult to keep it professional. I was looking for a win-win and did not see one. Eventually, I shared my frustration with a mentor who helped me regain some perspective. With advice and some quiet reflection, I found a more balanced perspective and formulated a new path forward. 

Mistakes will happen. Situations will occur that are beyond your ability to address alone. It’s not a matter of if, but when. You may need to make an accommodation you don’t fully agree with, not because it’s fair, but because it gets it done. The question is how will you or your company step up and address those situations? How will you respond if it requires you to confront something in your culture that needs to be changed? Once a challenge is acknowledged, do you seek out expert advice? Did you change your process or thinking? Is this an opportunity to improve how you conduct business or perform an installation? Depending on how you handle it, a challenge can be a useful learning experience and exposes as much about you as it does your company. If we are lucky, mistakes can turn into our most valuable lessons.

If you’re reading this, you are already on the quest of being informed and proving it matters to you. Not because you are reading the President’s Letter in TileLetter. That only gives you special standing with me. NTCA is proud to continue to be a resource you trust for information, training, and hopefully a little entertainment along the way. As a professional craftsperson – or someone associated with the industry – you are making an investment in your training, exposure, and knowledge of the trade by being involved with the NTCA. 

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