Last month in my blog about “the new normal” I wrote about a frustrating concern with some tile we were installing. I was surprised that a day after the blog went out, the distributor rep whom I had originally spoken to about our issues contacted me and we had a great conversation. Thanks for reaching out and we’ll meet up!

I also received a response from a reader stating that if I can’t deal with a 1/16” discrepancy in a tile I should “go work for 7-11.” Well, I think the person who responded didn’t get that the blog was about service—and not that we couldn’t deal with having to cut the pieces to fit.

I think there are quite a few of us that have had those days where we wish we were just working for someone else and not having all the frustrations of running a day-to-day business. “But I’m my own boss!” we keep telling ourselves, which basically means that 40 hours a week is a part-time job.

You can tell me all you want about time management courses. While they do help to a certain point, when one phone call can change your entire day you’re back to being a fireman putting out all the fires.

One thing that helps reduce the stress on a day-to-day basis is networking with our peers in the industry. Just last week, my wife and I attended a National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) workshop in Salt Lake City at Daltile, and had the pleasure to listen to Robb Roderick from NTCA. We also had the opportunity to network with James Allred from Bostik, Bart Wilde from MAPEI, Lonnie DeGooyer from Schluter, Kevin Owen from Laticrete, Steve Besendorfer from SBS Construction Products LLC, and Dale Roberts and Kolby Colledge from Custom Building Products. Also thanks to Larry McCleary at Daltile for hosting the workshop!

When we talk about the frustrations of running a business, having manufacturer reps we can talk to is invaluable. These men and women are dedicated to helping contractors. For those of you who haven’t met your local reps, get out to the events your local distributors are hosting. Make the time to build a relationship. I have excellent support from my reps. You should, too.