Leadership Letter: Get Out!
 
July 1st, 2011

Ryan Calkins

As a CTDA board member and officer, I’ve had the chance to speak with many of our industry leaders about business and life. In those conversations, I’ve noticed a few traits that all successful leaders share. One characteristic is that the most successful business leaders in our industry make time to get away from their businesses. They take vacations. They attend conferences. And they go out and find new opportunity, rather than waiting for it to knock on their door.

Time away serves a number of purposes. First, it allows you to look at the whole business—the high-altitude perspective, so to speak. When you are immersed in the day-to-day operations of your business, it is simply not possible to take in the whole picture. The demands of AR or customer needs or next month’s marketing plan overwhelm the less urgent but much more important long term planning. Second, time away requires that your employees step up and take care of the shop while you are gone. Third, time away provides new perspectives on how to run your business. If all you ever see is how things are done in your neck of the woods, how are you ever going to get the inspiration to innovate your business in a way that makes you more competitive, more profi table, and more valuable to your customers? Finally, time away includes the conferences, exhibitions, and trade missions that create and strengthen relationships, reveal new opportunities, and educate you on the latest trends.

One essential event is the revamped Total Solutions Plus conference, which takes place each year in late fall. This year, TSP will be held on November 7-11 in Chandler, Arizona, at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort. TSP 2011 builds on last year’s highly lauded gathering of the CTDA, the Tile Council of North America, and the National Tile Contractors Association. As always, there will be ample time to network with other industry leaders in formal and informal settings, as well as educational sessions on pressing topics for the tile business (e.g. Donato Grosser’s report on changes in ceramic tile distribution, a session on navigating new customs regulations, and the latest on green building standards from Bill Griese). And this year’s keynote speaker is one we will all be talking about for years to come. Marcus Luttrell, a former Navy SEAL and the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, will share his inspiring story of extreme courage and overcoming impossible odds.

If you haven’t already, please visit CTDAhome.org to sign up for Total Solutions Plus 2011.

Ryan Calkins
CTDA President

One final note. The CTDA community is mourning the loss of a dear friend and colleague. Ronald Gilmartin of Design Materials, Inc. in San Antonio, Texas passed away in June.

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