The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) held its annual conference in conjunction with the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). The event, Total Solutions Plus, ran Nov. 1-6 at the Naples Grand Beach Resort in Naples, Fla.

Attendance for the first joint meeting between these three industry associations was extremely high, according to show organizers. The conference was designed to leverage the best of each association while also eliminating duplicate programs, travel and expense.

Via a post-conference evaluation program, it was evident that attendees found the format with CTDA, NTCA and TCNA was outstanding and something to build on in the future. Participants experienced a strong spirit of networking which brought key issues into focus and resolve. A number of attendees simply described the event as “one of the best conferences that we have attended.”

Highlights of the schedule were keynote presentations by economist Don Reynolds and producer and historian Michael Uslan.

A variety of break-out sessions featuring topics tailored to meet the needs of the tile contractors, distributors and manufacturers included: NTCA’s Gerald Sloan on Ceramic and Porcelain Tile vs. Stone Tile Installations; James Dion, consultant, trainer, author and consumer retail expert on Making a Store; The Materials and Methods and Standards Association on membranes; Jason Bader on Managing Inventory in a Tough Economy; TCNA’s Stephanie Samulski on the 2011 TCNA Handbook; Kevin Burnett on Best Practices for Securing Federal Government Work; Pamela Bowe on Learning How to Use B2B/EDI For A Competitive Advantage; Larry Mersereau on Growing Your Business in Challenging Times; and Shauna Causey on Social Media. Additionally, Michael Stone presented the Contractor's Forum: Running a Financially Effective Company; Fred Jackson talked about Marketing Green in Today's Oversaturated Green Market; and Bill Griese discussed Understanding Tile's Role in Green Building.

NTCA president John Cox awarded that association’s prestigious Tile Person of the Year honors to Frank Canto of Canto Tile and Stone in Tampa, Fla. Canto is chairman of the NTCA Board of directors; a member of NTCA’s Technical Committee, as well as several other committees, and an NTCA Five Star Contractor and industry-recognized consultant.

Tabletops featured eighty-five manufacturers, distributors and industry allies meeting and networking with key contacts. "Total Solutions Plus was a success because of the dedicated hard work from all three association staffs and selected officers," said Bart Bettiga, NTCA exec director. "Additionally, knowing the entire industry will benefit from a combined leadership conference and networking event, our sponsors and tabletop suppliers showed overwhelming support despite today’s economic times. We were ecstatic when 100 more attendees than we had budgeted for invested their time and money into our inaugural event."

Plans are already underway for Total Solutions Plus 2011, Nov. 9-12 at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Phoenix. "Next year, in Phoenix, we hope to far exceed these numbers as more people learn of the significant value they received by being present in Naples. We have a real success story on our hands with Total Solutions Plus,” Bettiga added.