Editor’s Letter – March 2016


My dad, Richard Goddin, and me, in 2012.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
– Vincent Van Gogh

This column comes to you courtesy of a conversation I had with Jim Harrington, Sr., of Professional Consultants International, inspired, posthumously, by my dad.

First, a little background. On January 29, immediately after Surfaces and as soon as the airports were clear from the major snowstorm that hit the Northeast the weekend of January 23, I flew from NM to NJ to be present with my dad while the pulmonary fibrosis he had battled for many years weakened him and finally claimed his life. While it was a time with him I will treasure, it was also a harrowing experience to watch his life systematically drain away, even as I navigated through the labyrinth of Medicare, hospital and nursing home care, communication with his doctors, and the gamut of emotions that resulted for my mom and me. Before I go on, I want to thank the NTCA staff and contributing writers for their immense loving patience with and support for me for those six weeks, as well as the support from many in the industry. And I want to extend apologies for delays in getting TileLetter, TRENDS and Coverings issues to you this year – I was juggling deadlines during this process and did not always hit the mark.

lesleys-dadDuring this period, I engaged in an email exchange with Jim Harrington about our late dads, who had both served in the Army Air Corps in WW2. Both our dads provided “behind the scenes” support for the war effort – Jim’s dad inspecting planes coming through Hickam Field in Honolulu and mine packing parachutes. We conversed online about how these support roles saved lives.

Jim shared about a seminar a friend had attended given by a pilot who had been shot down. This pilot had the occasion to meet the soldier who packed his parachute. “The pilot pointed out (correctly) that without the guy packing the chute doing his job correctly, he would not be here,” Jim wrote, pointing out that “many of the combat vets were always willing to acknowledge the importance of every cog in the machine to the success of their mission.”

And this is where this column relates to our industry, and even your business. In each situation – business and personal – everyone plays an essential part. I saw that first hand in my recent experiences at the nursing home, where LPNs and CNAs did indispensable services for my dad that ensured his safety and comfort. I saw it with friends and family: those who drove me to the nursing home when I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel of a car due to lack of sleep; those who accompanied me to visit in the last days as a support; some who fed me; or put me up in their home; those who sent notes of encouragement or traveled many miles to be with my mom and me; and of course my sweetie who held down the fort at home and flew out for the funeral, and the friends who looked after our cats while he was away. I saw it during the whole funerary process as each funeral professional from the funeral home to the cemetery helped to create an honoring tribute to my dad. One of the things I feel is so much gratitude to all involved.

Your business may not be a life or death situation, but the health of your business is important. It’s important for your customers’ satisfaction, for your employees’ financial health and that of their families, for the ongoing prosperity of the company that you may have built, run or work for. And each role is essential. Try doing without the foreman, or helper, or receptionist or designer for a day or a week and see how things fall apart.

So, this is a call for bringing gratitude more consciously into your day-to-day operations for everyone who makes up your team. Gratitude for all those who dedicate themselves to making your business run smoothly, whether they are high-profile employees or those who keep things humming behind the scenes.

Merriam-Webster defines cog as “a subordinate but integral person or part;” oftentimes the emphasis is placed on “subordinate,” or being “just” a cog, but in this column, I’d like to place the emphasis on “integral.” No matter who you are or what your role, you are important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It couldn’t get done without you. And beyond the immediate task you are accomplishing in the situation, you may have no idea of how far reaching your effects may be. Thank you for all you do.

God bless,
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – February 2016

Lesley psf head shot“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” 
– Albert Einstein

A couple of topics for this letter.

First, I want to post this photo, taken in December 2015 at association headquarters in Jackson, Miss., of the brand new, updated NTCA logo and most of the NTCA staff and distinguished guests. The porcelain logo was created for the association by Tom Ade and Filling Marble & Tile in Egg Harbor City, N.J. It just so happened that the installation of the logo coincided with a visit of most of the staff to headquarters for year-end meetings, planning, and a holiday dinner. Shown are (l. to r.): Sandy Bettiga, Bart Bettiga, Lesley Goddin, Mark Heinlein, Mary Shaw-Olson, Jim Olson, Becky Serbin, Scott Carothers, Michael Whistler, Jill Whistler, Tricia Moss and Michelle Chapman. Missing is Lisa Murphy, NTCA accountant, and Joe Tarver, NTCA executive director emeritus.

NTCA-staffSecond, I want to further the discussion, started in the December Editor Letter, about solutions to the labor shortage in the U.S.

Just this second week in January, we received a report from the Associated General Contractors of America that showed in December, construction firms added 45,000 workers, as construction unemployment continued its decline from 8.3% a year ago to the current 7.5%.

One of the telling aspects of the report, however, was this statement: “Association officials noted that most contractors remain concerned about shortages of available construction workers, noting that 70% of contractors report having a hard time finding workers. They urged federal, state and local officials to act on measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development Plan to support new career and technical education programs. In particular, they called on Congress to enact needed reforms and increase funding for the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.”

SEVENTY percent. That’s huge. I don’t currently have a figure for the tile industry, but I suspect it would be in a similar ballpark. Which brings us back to the December letter.

We received a lot of feedback to this letter – phone calls to Bart in the office and emails to me – thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! Some respondents were very favorable to the idea of exploring the possibility of importing labor in the form of skilled, certified Mexican workers on a temporary basis to help alleviate some of the immediate labor shortages that are plaguing our industry; some also cited personal experience with excellent work of Mexican laborers they had worked alongside.

Others misunderstood the intent of the letter, fearing an influx of unskilled, undocumented workers, which was never part of the original discussion. But the point was made numerous times about the importance of developing U.S. resources, whether in trade schools, recruiting ex-military – goals NTCA is involved in at various levels, including our online apprentice program in development. And in fact, NTCA president James Woelfel added this comment:

“Young African-American males between the ages of 16-19 are unemployed at the rate of over 20% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young women are in the same range. Here in Arizona young Navajo males are at around 70% unemployment, these numbers are staggering.

“Have we as an industry done our best to reach out to these diverse groups? I don’t think so. Are we selling our own citizens short? We need to do better in outreach to the younger people in our country, no matter the ethnicity (Ed. note – And, I would add, the gender). We have plenty of opportunity in our industry to employ young Americans.”

Well said, and great points. And yet I can’t help thinking that while all the plans to develop U.S. resources are good ones that should definitely be pursued, this issue is that educating, training, enticing and convincing U.S. citizens to enter the field, obtain necessary training and certification and make tile setting their life’s work takes a long time. Certainly, a great goal to shoot for and to attract more U.S. workers into the field from trade school paths, ex-military, inner city populations.

Yet we have an immediate need  – a NOW need – for workers. SEVENTY percent of construction contractors report a shortage. Would a program to certify skilled Mexican workers to help alleviate this situation be able to be implemented more quickly? That is anyone’s guess. But it might make sense to initiate efforts on both fronts. Once any obstacles are overcome in getting these trained workers here legally, we would be working with a population that has the desire to work in this field vs. starting from square one when it comes to plans to recruit U.S. workers.

I invite continuing discussion on this topic, and let’s see what arises!


[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – January 2016

Lesley psf head shotJanuary 2016 marks my 10-year anniversary as editor of TileLetter magazine. I can hardly believe a full decade has passed since Bart first proposed I come work for him during a conversation after the Total Solutions conference at the Las Vegas Hilton in September, 2005.

Some of the faces have changed over the years – Justin Woelfel was director of training and Bob Brown was NTCA membership director when I came aboard. Shortly afterwards, Gerald Sloan took over Justin’s role, which expanded to include Michael Whistler – with Gerald’s departure, Mark Heinlein now shares that hat with Michael. Jim Olson came on board as assistant executive director, assuming the membership duties held by Brown. Don Scott was president at the time, and since then I’ve hounded Don, Frank Canto, John Cox, Nyle Wadford, Dan Welch and James Woelfel for their presidential letters each month.

Other staffers over the years include Mary Shaw-Olson, ad sales; Becky Serbin, training and education coordinator; Lisa Murphy, accountant; Tricia Moss, office manager with Sandy Bettiga lending a guiding hand in accounting and web functions, after the departure of Gigi Wall. Providing a strong underpinning for all this change has been executive director emeritus Joe Tarver, executive director and TileLetter publisher Bart Bettiga and art director/ad sales rep Michelle Chapman, who makes TileLetter look fantastic every month.

From the very first time I attended a Total Solutions at Charlotte, N.C. in 2002 and interviewed James Woelfel, I have been astounded by the level of passion and integrity in this industry. Coming from writing about selling and merchandising at retail, at the time I had no idea that tile installers not only had to be expert craftspeople, but artists, designers, business people, logisticians, expert negotiators, and all-around wunderkind! I was sold at my first Total Solutions in 2002. I started contributing articles to TileLetter shortly after that and joined the staff full time in January 2006.

Since that time, not only have I seen ongoing passion and excellence, but I have seen amazing dynamism in our association and in our industry. Bart and Jim’s leadership has been nothing short of visionary, and they have the skills and heart to work with all different industry segments to get things done, and move things forward for the industry at large, contractor and affiliate NTCA members right up to Five Star Contractor members. If the association and industry wouldn’t be left in the lurch in their absence, I’d like to see them throw their hats in the ring in the upcoming presidential election – they have a proven track record of getting people to work together for the betterment of all, which our country could really use right now.

The other reason our association runs so well is because of all the volunteers – from officers to directors to members who stop by to lend support at local NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops, staff the booth at industry events, take time away from their own businesses to invest in initiatives that further the industry and the association, and who generously share information in TileLetter stories when I come knocking on their proverbial doors. And speaking of TileLetter stories, we could simply not put the magazine together without our contributors, from freelance writers like Terryn Rutford, Lou Iannaco, Tanja Kern and others, to all the industry experts who contribute their knowledge and wisdom to our publications.

What I want to say as we begin a new year, and I celebrate a decade with NTCA and TileLetter is what a great ride it’s been, with some of the best people I know. I look forward to another decade of growth.

It’s a new year. Let’s make it a good one, together!

God bless,


[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – October 2015

Lesley psf head shotUnless you have been living under a rock, you’ve been besieged lately by a torrent of political news — even more intense than usual since we are gearing up for the presidential election. The GOP have already held two televised debates, and the Democrats are working on generating enthusiasm through personal appearances and addresses. No matter which side you are on, one thing is for sure – there is a lot of NOISE going on about the conditions we are dealing with and how we’d like to see it change, evolve or grow.

Sometimes, amidst the volley of opinions on Facebook or television or the editorial section of the newspaper, I stop and wonder just how much power and influence average citizens actually have. Are we just treading water with our outrage and outspokenness? We have the power to gather and protest and voice opinions – and most importantly to VOTE – but without a fat bankroll with which to feed the lobbyists, sometimes it feels like our opinions fall on deaf ears. We just want to have a voice.

Well, good news – NTCA gives you that voice. No, it doesn’t give you a voice in Washington, but it gives you a voice in the progress and direction of something that affects you every day – your livelihood as a tile setter or a member of the industry. NTCA is powered by people just like you – and your participation is more than welcomed, it’s encouraged. When you are involved as a member of the NTCA, you have direct influence through participation on committees – including the NTCA Technical Committee — board membership, or directorship at state or regional levels.

NTCA isn’t called “The Voice of the Contractor” for nothing. You aren’t a nameless, faceless entity. You count. You are KNOWN. And you have access to decision makers, experts and leaders who are working alongside you to actually make the industry better. If only Congress took some lessons from the tile industry and the harmonious working and cooperation of associations like the NTCA, TCAA, CTDA and TCNA, we would all be in better shape.

When I watch the rhetoric that is inherent to the political process, it can be disheartening. There seems to be so many layers that actually stand in the way of someone making a direct impact on policy and conditions that affect their immediate world, their livelihood and their families. I encourage you, in this pre-election year, to take advantage of the influence you have as a NTCA member and get involved. And if you aren’t a member, step up and join the groundswell of interested and engaged industry leaders that shape your future.

A special note for those of you with a NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop coming to your area – from now through the end of the year, join for $500 at a workshop and get the rest of the year’s membership as well as 2016 membership included, with Partnering for Success vouchers for 2015 and 2016 to boot. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Step up and cast a vote for a prosperous future by joining NTCA today.

God bless,
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – September 2015

Lesley psf head shot“What kind of effort is asked of us? We need a strong, unmistakable message of steadfast commitment to a goal we’re convinced is worth achieving. Unless we get that, we’ll all default to the comfortable, routine, conventional way of going about our business and watch the clock until the rehearsal is over.”
– Roger Nierenberg

Last year at Total Solutions Plus, corporate business consultant, Sandy Smith, presented a talk on Creating a Culture of High Employee Engagement. He cited a Gallup study that revealed that 70% of all employees are disengaged, which results in burning out the other 30% of workers who are carrying the load.

Smith played a fascinating video from veteran symphony conductor Roger Nierenberg, which demonstrated Nierenberg’s Music Paradigm. In the video, CEOs got to listen to a performance of professional musicians from within different sections of their local symphonic orchestra to experience the difference of a range of conducting styles.

For instance, when conductors provided mixed messages to the musicians and embedded CEOs in a Music Paradigm performance, expectations were built to great results, but then the leadership and direction was weak and wan. Leaders who don’t walk the talk were found to inhibit others and emotionally “hang people out to dry,” Nierenberg said. “If [workers] only see the words, but not confirming action, it puts them into a quandary,” he observed.

Next, the CEOs experienced what it was like when the conductor “over leads” through micromanaging and not allowing professionals to do what they have been brought into the organization to do. Participants explained this leadership style “choked” and “demoralized” them, and demonstrated a lack of trust.

The liberating leader, in contrast, gave clear instruction, put trust in his “artists” and let them do what they know how to do. It’s not necessary to “babysit” professionals, the video revealed, but to give clear directions and good training, and allow your people to do the job for which they were hired.

The CEOs also got to hear what the performance sounded like from the podium when the different leadership styles were employed – running the gamut from discordant to powerful.

It was a fascinating illustration of how leadership style impacts the harmony and rhythm of an organization. Through clear, consistent direction and strong behavior modeling, leaders are able to guide the professionals under their watch to their best.

0915-editorisletterTo learn more about The Music Paradigm, visit www.musicparadigm.com or read Nierenberg’s book, Maestro: A Surprising Story about Leading by Listening.

Did this column intrigue you? Then be sure to attend Total Solutions Plus, held next month in Savannah, for more motivational messages and ideas you can put into practice to elevate your business to its highest and best. Need more convincing? Check out Bart Bettiga’s story about Total Solutions Plus on page 86 of this issue. See you in Savannah.

God bless,
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – August 2015 “Green Issue”

Lesley psf head shot“Sustainability can’t be like some sort of a moral sacrifice or political dilemma or a philanthropical cause. It has to be a design challenge”
– Bjarke Ingels

Is there anyone among you whose business is not touched by sustainable practices in some form? Recycling office waste and paper, purchasing products in containers with recycled content, selecting tile and setting materials that are Green Squared® Certified, following LEED parameters in the content, manufacturing and sourcing of products to obtain a Silver, Gold or Platinum certification, or adhering to Green Globes parameters, all of which helps safeguard the resources of our planet and the quality of our environment?

The importance of sustainability isn’t going anywhere but up. At its foundation is a conscious, responsible use of natural resources in a way that helps and does not harm air, land, plants, waterways and animals who live and breathe on this planet.

But coming to this consciousness and acting on it is a learning curve. It wasn’t so long ago that we would just throw things “away,” before realizing that on this closed system we call planet Earth, there IS no “away.” Sustainable and eco-friendly practices started out being optional; today more and more specs require implementation of pro-environment practices and product selections at every level of construction. And rightly so.

In some ways, it’s more challenging than ever before, with the ever-increasing transparency of EPDs and HPDs in LEED V4. And in some ways it’s easier to make eco-conscious choices with the broader range of responsible manufacturing processes being implemented by tile makers and Green Squared® Certified tile and setting materials from which to choose.

To wit, we look at “green” issues from a number of angles in this issue. From an update on the status of HPD deadlines from TCNA’s Bill Griese, to an A&D perspective from Anne Rue and Robin Wilson on incorporating sustainable principles and products into projects, to a sampling of green materials in our New Product section to Wally Adamchick’s original perspective on sustainability in your company from a people perspective, we venture a bit further into green waters with information we believe can help support your business and inform your decisions.

God bless,


Editor’s Letter – July 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Be prepared before you begin. You save yourself from delay if you are fully prepared. Preparation sets you for excellence.”
Israelmore Ayivor, Shaping the dream

Here is a question about a situation I am sure just about every contractor encounters – delays. In the sense that you tell your customer that you will be at their site at X time at X day, but something happens to prevent this. How do you handle it?

I ask, because I recently had such a situation develop. My very old rotting and rickety evaporative cooler (a popular form of air conditioning in hot, low-humidity climates) needed replacing and the plumbing contractor the store recommended was due to come to the house on Wednesday, June 10 at 2 pm. That time came and went. As a person with a very flexible relationship with time, I understood he might have been detained. But when the clock started ticking around to the quarter hour, I called. Yes, he did have a setback; his son who was helping him had been injured, but he could get here about 4 p.m. Then closer to the appointed hour, he called and said he’d come about 6. I had an appointment, but my sweetie stayed home to be available for the plumber. When I got home later, I learned he had called and said he couldn’t make it at all but he would come the next day at 9 am. I was disappointed and my sweetie was decidedly unhappy.

Now, I had never worked with this plumber before and we were over a barrel – temperatures were heating up and cooling was desperately needed. Plus he was picking up the new unit and disposing of our old one. So we waited. At 9:30 the next morning, he and a helper rolled in. Time was tight because BOTH my sweetie and I had appointments at about noon, which was cutting the installation close. All’s well that ends well; cooler was installed in the nick of time and we’ve been enjoying blessedly cool indoor temperatures ever since. My neighbor asked who my installer was, hired him, and he arrived on time to her home, to her delight.

So how do YOU handle delays? Do you call your client if you know you’ll be late? Is there an alternate member of your team who can go to a customer’s home to get the job started? Do you only give approximate times or suggest a time range – say, between 2 – 4 p.m.?

I’m curious about successful ways to manage delays and customer expectations and not only provide an expert installation for your clients, but keep them happy from the get-go with realistic time frames and contingency plans.

Please email me with your experiences at [email protected], and I’ll use your comments for a future Business Tip story that focuses on the topic of delays and successful management thereof. Many thanks!

God bless,

[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – June 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.”
– Isak Dinesen

Recently I called NTCA headquarters in Jackson, Miss., (I work offsite from my home office in Albuquerque, N.M.) with a question, and wound up catching up with a member of the NTCA staff. We talked about recent vacations, and her observation about the tremendous amount of work and energy involved in participating and attending Coverings, among other things. I value these occasional phone chats, since it’s my best opportunity to stay connected with folks on the NTCA team, both in terms of work and personal aspects of our lives.

Our conversation drifted to news, and specifically bad news that is so easy to consume whether on television, in newspapers, magazines or social media. At the drop of a hat, we get besieged by political outrage, injustice, crime, threats of economic disasters, environmental woes, cruelty to animals or children, and more. You know – you’ve seen it all.

I shared that I often feel a need to call on my editing skills to censor what I let into my life and consciousness. There’s a similarity to how I work – I get a barrage of information streaming into my email inbox every day. To make sense of it and select the best content for TileLetter readers, I edit – delete, download and revise, shorten, expand. I can’t possibly include everything I see or TileLetter would be a 500-page tome each month, with lots of information that – while not completely irrelevant to the industry – is not targeted precisely for our readership. The same principle applies with all I see and experience at industry events like Surfaces, Coverings and Total Solutions Plus. Information and events need to be experienced, digested and summarized, often with links to where details can be obtained.

When I read the news (usually online) or see discussions on social media, I call my editing skills into play. Is this something of value for me, and those in my life? Do I REALLY have to engage in this political discussion (One of the wisest sayings I’ve ever heard is, “You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.”)? Is this a cause that touches my heart? Is that story even TRUE? Will this benefit, support, inspire or delight anyone else if it is shared? Is it moving me closer to a goal? So, in a very real way, I need to delete, download and revise, shorten, expand, act on or ignore pretty much everything that comes across my five senses to determine if it’s in alignment to my vision for my life or if it brings some benefit to me or those I hold dear.

What does this have to do with our industry, you may ask? Everything! How many pieces of information do you encounter every day? How many opportunities do you have to be distracted by naysayers or complainers or drama queens (or kings) who thrive on controversy? Maybe it’s a staff member, employee, sales rep, or the news itself. The best way to counter information overload is to know your mission, be skilled in your role and trade, and sift through the wave of communication with wisdom and discernment to pare it down to usable kernels of knowledge. NTCA can help you do this, with opportunities for education and elevating your company to a higher level, all within a context of open discussion – such as what takes place within the Technical Committee meetings. There is also expert advice, helpful documents such as training manuals and the NTCA Reference Manual, and networking opportunities to talk through experiences with other skilled tile and stone contractors and industry professionals.

So be prepared for the onslaught, because in addition to death and taxes, the only other sure thing is bad news. Connect with NTCA, put on your editor’s hat and cut through the chaos like a hot knife through butter.

God bless!
[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – May 2015

Lesley psf head shotSome of the articles in this issue come roaring out of the Coverings show: honors presented at the NTCA Awards Night, the uber-useful Lippage & Grout Tool introduced by NTCA member Davis Leichsenring, and a spate of shiny new products. There was so much that took place at Coverings, that these stories are just a taste of further awards, events and impressions from the show to come in June.

One of the key pieces of information shared at Coverings came during the TCNA press conference on Wednesday morning, where executive director Eric Astrachan shared state-of-the-industry numbers with the assembled group of journalists. Here are the findings in a nutshell:

  • 2014 U.S. ceramic tile consumption was up 2.49 billion sq. ft., with a 0.5% increase over 2013’s 2.48 billion sq. ft. – the fifth consecutive year-over-year increase in U.S. ceramic tile consumption.
  • The value of U.S. ceramic tile consumption in 2014 was $2.97 billion, up 6.1% from 2013.
  • 2014 showed a 0.7% decrease in imports over 2013, down to 1.71 billion sq. ft. over 1.72 billion sq. ft. Imports in 2014 comprised 68.7% of U.S. tile consumption in volume, down from 69.6% in 2013.
  • Mexico regained its status in 2014 as top exporter to the U.S. with a 29.5% share of imports, slightly edging out China’s 29.4% of exports; in 2013, China held the top title. In 2014, Italy was the second top importer, with 18.4% of volume exports to the U.S.
  • In terms of value, Italy was the top 2014 exporter to the U.S., comprising 34.8% of import value. China came next in terms of value, with 25.7%, followed by Mexico at 16.5%. The dollar value per square foot of tile imports (including freight, insurance and duty)rose from $1.00 in 2013 to $1.06 in 2014.
  • Looking at domestic shipments, there was a 3.3% increase from 2013 in terms of volume, up to 779.1 million sq. ft. In dollar value, U.S. F.O.B. factory sales for 2014 were $1.15 billion, up 6.8% over 2013, and the dollar value/square foot of domestically-produced tile rose from $1.43 in 2013 to $1.48 in 2014.
  • 2014 U.S. exports were up 7.7% from 2013, to 42.5 million sq. ft., with most exports going to Canada (66.5%) and Mexico (15.3%).

Not everything in this issue centers on Coverings, however. Pat O’Connor gives us an update about the Affordable Care Act and what it means to you and your business. And our NTCA Benefits Box story demonstrates ways NTCA and its members are reaching out to inform middle- and high-school aged students about tile apprenticeship programs and career paths. Among some of our regular features, we also spotlight Tom and Lane Meehan’s business at Cape Cod Tileworks, review the value the Certified Tile Installer program has for Ricky Cox of Memphis Tile and Marble Co., and take an in-depth look into the TCNA Handbook and what new language about crack-isolation membrane installation can mean for contractors, from NTCA Five Star Contractor Kevin Fox’s perspective.

Happy reading! God bless,

[email protected]

Editor’s Letter – April 2015

Lesley psf head shot“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”
– Albert Camus

In the crunch of the after-Surfaces/pre-Coverings timeline, I am taking a moment to catch my breath and PONDER. I invite you to join me in my meanderings.

In the busy offices of TileLetter, we run (mostly) like a well-oiled machine, gathering content, writing, editing and sending it all off to our ace designer Michelle Chapman to be flowed onto the page and then printed. Content is planned, requested, created, collaborated on, sourced, researched, massaged, expanded, shortened, and refined to bring you the best information possible month to month (even with a few special issues squeezed in, like TRENDS, which debuted at Coverings, our annual Coverings issue and the upcoming TECH issue later this summer).

From time to time though, I awake from the sometimes-hypnotic stream of words and images flowing across my computer screen to marvel in the quality information we assemble for readers each month. I don’t mean this to sound grandiose – it’s more of an acknowledgement of the vast range of insight and expertise that exists in our industry and our membership, and gratitude for the willingness of individuals and companies to share all that with readers. That’s the big “WE” I am talking about.

This has not always been the case. Occasionally, in my many decades of journalistic experience, I’ve run across a person who – when asked to share tales about what they do and how they do it – balks and says “Why? Why should I share my hard-won information with you and with all your readers? How does it benefit me to do this?”

I can honestly say in my nine years of editing TileLetter for NTCA, I have never encountered a source who is stingy with their experience, holding it close to the vest in a protective stance. Instead, they choose to help advance the business and knowledge of others, by sharing experiences and lessons they have encountered. And reviewing the table of contents of stories that you’ll read about in this issue, I am taken aback with appreciation by the open-heartedness of our contributors, sources, columnists and other content providers.

These are the individuals, companies, and associations that make our industry tick. I am awed and honored – and very grateful – for each and every person who contributed to this issue and countless others over the years, and those who have invested their time in our membership by the wisdom they have shared with TileLetter readers.

I offer thanksgiving for this generosity in the form of a blessing of sorts, through the words of the immortal Mr. Spock, who grew to be larger than simply a Star Trek character brought to life for many years by the inimitable and fondly-remembered Leonard Nimoy: “Live Long and Prosper.” And always, thank you!

God bless!

[email protected]

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