The seminar program at Coverings 2009 will include nearly 70 conference sessions for tile and stone contractors and installers, led by some of the industry’s leading experts. The conference component has long been considered a top draw of the show, and this year’s program will address a variety of subjects of specific interest to this segment of attendees, from the current economy and its impact on contract installer business to the latest news from the technology and installation forefronts. The show will take place at Chicago’s McCormick Place April 21-24.

   The schedule, developed in collaboration with the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), a Coverings sponsor, covers a wide range of subject matter, but is concentrated on providing timely, practical advice and insight into the issues of importance to this industry sector. All sessions are free of charge. The program also includes actual instructional demonstrations and hands-on technology workshops conducted on the show floor throughout the four-day period. Chief among these is the intensive Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certification Program that debuted at last year’s show and returns again, bringing the opportunity for professionals to add credibility and a competitive edge to their practice. Though the number of program participants is limited, attendees will have opportunity to learn more about the program’s merits and yearlong availability in a new session entitled “A Case for Certification,” led by Scott Carothers and Bart Bettiga, executive directors of the CTEF and NTCA, respectively.

   This year’s keynote address for contractors and installers, “Construction Forecast: What Impact Can You Expect?”, will speak to the issue top-of-mind for all segments of the industry: the economy. Ken Simonson, Chief Economist of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), will kick things off Tuesday morning, April 21, with an in-depth look at how the current economy is affecting the construction industry. Simonson will also offer ideas on how contractors and other industry professionals can best ride out the downturn, shrinking budgets and project delays. The presentation is part of a new seminar track, “Surviving 2009,” a series of 11 seminars dedicated to teaching show attendees strategies and tactics required by today’s uncertain business climate.

   “The seminar program at Coverings has consistently been a highlight of the show,” said Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions, which manages and produces Coverings. “We’re committed to continuing to focus on and invest in this unique facet of the show, and to offering the highest quality, most timely programming led by the industry’s leading luminaries. The 2009 schedule is chock full of a range of options that span the spectrum of interests, from how to best navigate the economy to the latest technology. Our mission is to help provide contractors and installers with the information, knowledge and ideas useful to improving their business.”

   Other standout sessions aimed at contractors and installers include two forums presented by the NTCA, one focused on grout and mortar and one on substrates and membranes. Each will address concerns and issues around these products.  Given the prominence of green solutions, a topic of burning interest across the industry, there’s also a range of green programming on the schedule, including, “LEED Simplified for Contractors,” “Tile Industry Green Initiative,” which will describe how ceramic tile can fit into the sustainable materials selection process, and “The Green Building System for Ceramic Tile.”

   For more information, or to register for the show, visit  

Installer and Contractor Conference Sessions

   Tuesday, April 21, 2009  

   8:30 – 10:00 am  

   Installers and Contractors Keynote

   Construction Forecast:  What Impact Can You Expect?  

   Ken Simonson joined the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) in 2001, and has since provided insight into the economy and what it means for the construction industry and related sectors.  In this session he will provide a forecast of what’s to come in the industry in light of the current economic downturn, and the expected impact on all segments of the tile & stone industry.

   Speaker: Ken Simonson, Associated General Contractors of America    

   12:30 – 2:00 pm  

   Shower Forensics and Moisture Management  

   Showers are the leading cause of moisture migration into a residential structure. This session will provide an overview of the shower environment; causes of moisture leaks, resultant damages and mold issues. It will offer a unique look at the characteristics and physics of water as it relates to moisture migration issues. A brief guide to proper shower construction concepts will also be featured.

   Speaker:  Don Halvorson, Tile and Stone Authority   ________________________________________________________________  

   3:15 – 4:15 pm  

   Stone Business Competitiveness – Why “Going Green” Is a Must!  

   This session will explore the process of earning LEED credits and what materials contribute to the LEED credential.  Jackson and Jenkins will also offer tips on how to gain “green” exposure with clients, and discuss what the NSC Sustainability Committee is doing to advance the use of natural stone in the green movement.

   Speakers: Fred Jackson and Christine Jenkins, Estudio Group, LLC    

   4:30 – 5:30 pm  

   Tile Industry Green Initiative  

   This program will describe how the use of ceramic tile can fit into the sustainable materials selection spectrum by highlighting data gathered from ongoing industry research pertaining to life-cycle assessments, indoor environmental quality, recycled content, solar reflectance indices, and other innovative green attributes. 

   Speaker:  Bill Griese, TCNA  

   Gypsum Underlayments  

   For many years, gypsum underlayments were considered to be unsuitable for ceramic tile installations…yet the system’s popularity has grown for both commercial and some residential construction projects, especially in multi-family housing and condominium projects.  This seminar will explain the difference between a gypsum and cement underlayment, and outline an active approach a contractor can take to ensure successful installation of the system. 

   Speaker:  Mike Micalizzi, MAPEI  

   Maintenance & Problem Solving 101 – What to Use, What to Know & Why  

   With the tremendous growth and popularity of tile and stone today, using a sealer to protect these surfaces is a given. Knowing what to recommend and use for proper maintenance is not.  This seminar will discuss maintenance and problem-solving, and explain how to avoid common pitfalls.

   Speaker: Rod Sigman, Aqua Mix  

   Smart Growth Strategies: Becoming a Fully Digital Fabrication Shop  

   The buzz in the tile industry is focused on digital technology.  This seminar will define what digital technology is in the countertop industry, and will provide a methodology for analyzing whether or not a company should take the full digital leap in fabrication. In addition, the seminar will explain how to identify pitfalls that should be avoided in order to ensure profitability and success.

   Speakers:  Rob Bromley, Park Industries; Stuart Young, The Granite Shop; and Dan Louis, Laser Products Industries        

   Wednesday, April 22  

   8:00 – 9:00 am  

   NTCA Contractors Forum:  Grout and Mortar  

   Select members of National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), along with several leading contractors, will creatively engage the audience to share their technical concerns, ideas, and issues surrounding grout and mortar. Photographs of grout and mortar dilemmas will help to dictate the discussion. 

   Moderator:  Jim Olson, NTCA

   Speakers:  Michael Whistler, Whistler Tile & Stone Inc.; Kevin Crawford, Tiede-Zoeller Contracting; John Cox, Cox Tile    

   8:00 – 10:00 am  

   Sealers 101 – What to Use, What to Know & Why  

   This session will focus on the ever-popular and ever-changing topic of sealers. Points for discussion include whether stone needs to be sealed, what sealers can and don’t do, sealer types, water-based vs. solvent-based, VOC and regulatory concerns and the future impact on the industry.

   Speaker:  Rod Sigman, AquaMix  

   Stone Trends 2009  

   From countertops to skyscrapers, the use of natural stone is booming in the U.S.  This session will cover sourcing, marketing and application trends in the stone industry over the last year, including examples of award-winning projects that have been recognized for their use of natural stone.

   Speaker:  Vince Marazita, Marazita & Associates    

   9:15 – 10:15 am  

   The Green Building System for Ceramic Tile  

   This session will offer firsthand information on the integration of LEED and green building standards for ceramic tile and stone.  Participants will learn the LEED rating system, the LEED certification process, and how tile, stone and installation material can contribute to LEED certification.

   Speaker: Dale Roberts, Custom Building Products  

   NTCA Contractors Forum:  Substrates and Membranes  

   Members of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), along with several leading contractors, will creatively engage the audience to share their technical concerns, ideas, and issues surrounding substrates and membranes.  Photographs of substrate and membrane issues will help to direct the discussion. 

   Moderator:  James Woelfel, Artcraft Granite and Marble, NTCA Technical Committee Chairman

   Speakers:  Nyle Wadford, Neuse Tile; Bob Scavone Jr., Total Flooring Contractors; Dan Welch, Welch Tile and Marble  

   Movement Joints  

   Failing to install properly placed movement joints during the ceramic tile installation process is one of the most common blunders.  This session will explain the proper preventative how-tos.

   Speaker:  Dave Gobis, Ceramic Institute of America      

   12:30 – 2:00 pm  

   Large Format Tile Installations  

   Astrachan and Sloan will examine the manufacturing processes of today’s larger format tiles, and explore the preparation and installation challenges facing the installer in the field.  A creative, hands-on demonstration will help attendees to understand the issues.

   Speakers:  Eric Astrachan, TCNA and Gerald Sloan, NTCA    

   4:30 – 5:30 pm  

   Slip Resistance and the Future Direction of the Tile Industry  

   With safety being the foremost priority, the tile industry has adopted a new method for evaluating flooring slip resistance. This seminar will review the method’s importance to the tile industry, and how it correlates with existing methods being used worldwide. Research from the U.S. and other countries demonstrating the validity of the test will also be reviewed. For anyone concerned with specifying tile or flooring safety issues in general, this seminar is a must.

   Speaker:  Katelyn Simpson, Tile Council of North America  

   Environmentally Preferable Coverings – A Chat with ASID’s Sustainable Design Council  

   The design profession’s leadership in sustainability is meeting at Coverings, and using the occasion, as well to bring up-to-date information to attendees as it addresses environmentally preferable tile and stone applications in the commercial, residential and hospitality sectors.  Special attention will be given to demolition, installation and new construction considerations.  Also highlighted will be excerpts from the REGREEN Residential Remodeling Guidelines, created through a partnership between ASID and USGBC. 

   Speakers:  Jill Salisbury, Environmental Language; Annette Stelmack, Allied Member ASID, Inspirit, LLC; Carlie Bullock-Jones, ASID, EcoWorks, LLC; Clifford Tuttle, ASID, ForestPerkins  

   Managing Your Receivables in Today’s Economy:  How to Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

   This session will teach attendees how to implement in-house techniques and procedures to help minimize risk. Presenters will discuss red flags to look out for during the course of doing business with a current client or a new prospect seeking terms.

   Speakers:  Al Dias and Niles Schwartz, Allied Collection Resources  

   Tile Façades  

   The distinct advantages of using ceramic tile as a cladding system will be underscored, with specific attention given to installations using an air space between the tile and the building.  Technical information on surface coatings and their maintenance will be presented.  Also addressed will be movement issues found in tile cladding systems, specifically anchoring details, tolerances and adjustability.

   Speaker:  Justin Woelfel, International Masonry Institute  

   Plywood/OSB/Wood Substrates and Subfloors  

   This presentation will highlight the construction trends in many residential sectors, and discuss the new technology being developed to successfully install ceramic tile over single layer wood systems.

   Speaker:  Representative from TEC Specialty Products        

   Super-Charge Your Web Site: Being in the Right Place When Customers Look for a Stone Contractor  

   Having a Web presence is essential to any business, whether designer, installer, dealer or manufacturer. This session will offer tips to help a company maximize this 21st century marketing must, and will include demonstrations of proper keyword and tag usage, as well as critical insight on how to target audiences to increase Web site traffic and obtain customers via Search Engine rankings.

   Speaker: Marty Gould, Focalize Consulting    

   From the Quarry to the Kitchen  

   This session will discuss in detail the complete natural stone installation process, including fabrication, how to select the right material, templating, cutting, finishing and installing, as well as maintenance.

   Speaker:  Joseph Tramuta, Esq., New England Stone, Inc.    

   Thursday, April 23, 2009  

   8:00 – 9:30 am  

   Stone and Fabricators Keynote

   Radon & Radiation in Granite – Reality and Perspective  

   The challenge to the safety of granite countertops is the most aggressive attack the natural stone industry has ever faced.  This seminar will highlight important initiatives being undertaken by the stone industry, led by the Marble Institute of America.  Also included will be the efforts to combat the misinformation campaign questioning the safety of granite. This keynote address will also showcase the newest scientific information about granite safety, and explain how stone professionals from around the world can use this data to quell customer concerns.

   Speakers:  Guido Gliori, Grazzini Brothers & Co.; Jim Hogan, Carrara Marble; and John F. McCarthy, Sc.D., C.I.H., Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc.    

   8:00 – 9:00 am  

   Next Generation Sound Control Products for Hard Surface Flooring  

   Controlling sound has always been a major design concern, with many inadequate solutions that are bulky, difficult to install and compromising the quality of the flooring installation. The newest generation of products has addressed these issues for design professionals and installers alike.  This session will explore and compare these latest innovations now available in the marketplace.

   Speaker:  Kirby Davis, Laticrete International  

   How to Avoid Installation Failure  

   The tile industry has more than doubled in the last seven years, as it has for the last five consecutive seven-year periods.  Today there is an arsenal of products and tools that allows for the installation of products quickly and correctly in any situation. But with that growth, there has also been an increased rate of failure due to lack of knowledge and understanding of both tile product and installation systems. This session will identify causes and problems of the most common complaints.

   Speaker:  Dave Gobis, Ceramic Tile Institute of America    

   9:15 – 10:15 am  

   Greening Your Bottom Line  

   Being a green business is an opportunity for companies to move ahead of competitors, increase profits, reduce their cost base and differentiate their company to gain more customers. In today's market, there is an application for sustainability in just about every sector of our economy.  This session will focus on how sustainability is transforming our society, and will provide an overview of major green concepts. Attendees will learn not only about how to incorporate greater levels of sustainability into their own businesses, but also how to better understand home buyer behaviors and purchasing decisions.

   Speaker:  Robin Pharo, Healthy Homes  

   How to Reduce Your Liability While Saving Insurance Premiums  

   The purpose of this session is to provide practical everyday solutions for lowering your insurance costs and further insulating business owners from catastrophic loss.  Attendees will learn the basics of business insurance, workman’s compensation, as well as controlling their audits with proper risk transfer techniques.  Handouts will be available, along with safety and risk transfer forms on CD.

   Speaker:  Marc Rosenkrantz, CIC, AAI, Schechner Lifson Corporation      

   A Case for Certification  

   The CTEF Certification Program was unveiled at Coverings last year in Orlando.  In today’s highly competitive economic environment, certification is the edge needed to grow one’s business. Bettiga will showcase several companies who are actively doing just that, and Carothers will explain the program in complete detail.

   Speakers:  Scott Carothers, CTEF and Bart Bettiga, NTCA    

   Young Concrete Installations            

   Thanks to innovative new technology, and a better understanding of how concrete cures and dries, the tile industry has adopted new methods for installing ceramic tile over young concrete that has not fully cured. This seminar will explain the cure process, and highlight technology allowing for the successful installation of tile in these situations.

   Speaker:  Sean Gerolimatos, Schluter Systems    

   12:30 – 2:00 pm  

   Case Studies of Beautiful Installations  

   Although it is important to study why installations fail and how to prevent them, the National Tile Contractors Association features members that do incredible work and exemplify all that is right within the tile industry. Three such members will proudly present unique and challenging installations recently and successfully completed by their respective companies.

   Moderator:  Lesley Goddin, TileLetter

   Speakers:  TBD    

   4:30 – 5:30 pm  

   Large-sized Ceramics for Ventilated Facades – Experiences with Successful Fixing-Systems  

   This session will address the recognized fastening and anchoring methods available for porcelain tiles – mechanical anchoring versus glue application. The use of large porcelain cladding tiles for ventilated façades and their successful installation will be discussed. Case studies on how to do it right – invisible anchoring, that’s simple, fast, and secure – will be presented as well.

   Speakers:  Ky Mierendorff, TILE EZE, and Georg Miebach, KEIL  

   Understanding the National Green Building Landscape  

   An examination of  what is happening on the national level within the green building industry will include a review of three programs -the NAHB Model Green Building Guidelines, the ICC/NAHB  (International Code Council/National Association of Home Builders) National Green Building Standard, and USGBC’s LEED (U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes.

   Speaker:  Robin Pharo, Healthy Homes  

   Achieving a High Level of Performance and Service with Total Quality Management  

   Total Quality Management (TQM) is a management method focusing on continuous improvement of the work processes in an organization. The principles of this method are suitable and relevant for organizations large and small, and can be applied to your tile distribution or installation company.  This session will show attendees how TQM can benefit organizations, and how this management method can be put into practice.

   Speaker:  Svend Hovmand, Crossville, Inc.  

   Concrete/Subsurface Tolerances  

   The International Masonry Institute is a leading authority in training and education.  Highly involved in the ceramic tile and natural stone industry, it is active in the development of installation standards.  The challenge facing many installation contractors is that the tile industry standards do not necessarily match the standards of the concrete industry.  Woelfel will explain how to install tile over a concrete surface in order to ensure success in any project.

   Speaker:  Justin Woelfel, International Masonry Institute  

   Radiant Heat Installations  

   Radiant and hydronic heat installations continue to provide unique opportunities to sell and install ceramic tile in areas where it has seldom been used before. This presentation will focus on their use in exterior installations, specifically three- and four-season porches, kitchens and bathrooms.

   Speaker:  Tracy Hall, Sun Touch  

   Emerging Technologies And Trends In Stone Fabrication  

   This session will offer an overview of emerging technologies in stone fabrication, focusing on saw jets, new trends in CNC machinery such as combined saws and routers, integrated production lines, etc.  Also included will be "niches," such as slab surface treatment including leathering, bush-hammering and flame-treating, and multi-axis wire-sawing.

   Speakers:  John Bergman and Duane Burke, Antillean Marble & Granite, Inc.  

   Estimating 101 – Do You Know Your Cost?

   As a fabricator, do you know your true cost of doing business? How much are you making on each job? Can you analyze your cost by each component (template, fabrication, install, overhead, etc)?  How does a new piece of equipment affect your bottom line?  It isn’t rocket science, but if you haven’t had a course on this subject, then this is a can’t-miss seminar. Learn how to get  a handle on your costs so that you can boost your profitability.

   Speakers: Tony Malisani, Malisani, Inc., and Michael Twiss, Columbia Stone, Inc.    

   Friday, April 24, 2009  

   9:00 – 10:00 am  

   Using the Revised ANSI A137.1 Ceramic Tile Standard to Understand Tile Performance and Precision of Manufacture When Specifying or Installing Ceramic Tile  

   The recently revised A137.1 tile standard is vastly different from its predecessor. The new standard sets forth tighter dimensional requirements for all tile types, and places specific dimensional precision requirements on tiles labeled “rectified,” previously an unregulated and sometimes abused term. Additionally, the revised standard treats porcelain as its own tile type. This session will touch on several ASTM tile performance tests and rating systems, such as visible abrasion resistance, breaking strength, and water absorption, and their relevance to specifying and installing ceramic tile. The session also will cover the method for evaluating color variation and other common field issues, like minimum recommended grout joint size.

   Speaker:  Stephanie Samulski, TCNA  

   What’s New with Moisture And Concrete  

   Our industry is challenged with providing solutions and installation systems over concrete subfloors in many capacities. Kanare will present the latest data and information from his field and laboratory investigations of floor issues.

   Speaker:  Howard Kanare, CTL Group    

   LEED Simplified for Contractors  

   This seminar will explain the LEED system as it relates to the US Green Building Council.  It will also cover the tile section in LEED, and the role that contractors can play in using products that will help earn points.  Additionally, there will be discussion about the green initiatives of the National Association of Home Builders, and the opportunities for ceramic tile in residential green homes.  Finally, it will dispel existing myths about ceramic tile and its viability in green projects.  

   Speaker:  Chip O’Rear, Custom Building Products