How I spent my summer vacation…
 
September 2nd, 2008

By Janet Arden, Editor

September-October 2008

I went to China with CTDA! As I write this, many of us are poised in front of TV sets, enjoying the Beijing Olympics. And, like many other members of the CTDA trade mission to China, I am taking additional pleasure in re-viewing the many sights and sounds of China that we enjoyed during our time there. Taking part in the recent trade mission was certainly an education in Chinese culture, history and business. It was also an education in the important role CTDA plays in the lives of its distributor members and in the ceramic tile industry. Let me explain.

We talk a lot about the value of industry networking. CTDA members are “plugged in” to a cross-country network of peers who face the same business challenges on a daily basis. They ask questions, suggest strategies and share experience in a way that helps grow everyone’s company as well as the industry. This is, of course, nothing new. I’ve heard snatches of these exchanges at association events and industry trade shows. In June, however, I heard the same networking conversations as we walked through the Forbidden City in Beijing, shared a banquet in Yunfu, and toured the Temple of Heaven (to name a few).

This is not meant to imply that the trip was all business or that the participants were not awed by all we saw, but it does point to the camaraderie of like-minded people (in this case, tile distributors). We just can’t seem to escape the common denominator. The participants included new CTDA members and others who have been active in the organization for literally dozens of years. My point is simply this: industry networking—which is impossible to hang a tangible dollar value on—travels with CTDA members wherever they go. If you are not part of CTDA, or if you are a member who is less than active, you are missing a wealth of expertise by not taking part in CTDA events.

And that industry experience is especially invaluable in today’s economy.

Making the most of a bad economy

What are you doing about the sagging economy? Forget hand-wringing, which doesn’t do much except dampen our spirits further. Instead, think about how you can leverage this time.

Start with sales. There has never been a better time to leverage the advantage of CTDA’s Certified Ceramic Tile Salesperson (CCTS) program. CCTS encourages companies to gain prestige, professional recognition, expanded knowledge and increased customer satisfaction through documented sales competence. The self-study program is easily incorporated without the addition of training or other human resource personnel. See page 15 or the CTDA website (www.ctdahome.org) for details.

Take advantage of industry education. CTDA’s online education and newly launched webinar series offer opportunities to learn and take your company to the next level without leaving home:

The Basics of Ceramic Tile teaches your employees the History, Types and Uses of Ceramic Tile, the Manufacturing Process, Installation and Maintenance, How to Select the Right Ceramic Tile, and How to Avoid Problems and False Expectations. All students need is a computer and access to the Internet.

CTDA webinars offer low-cost training and information on topics as varied as profitability, greenbuilding and sales. Webinars are led by industry leaders with expertise in the topic.

These are challenging times. Some distributors—who have been in business much longer than the rest of us—have weathered similar economies and understand the drill. For others this is new territory. But the opportunity to leverage the tangible and intangible benefits of CTDA membership is good news for everyone.

Janet Arden

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