Trade Mission to Turkey
June 3rd, 2015

Thirty Three members and guests have traveled to Istanbul to enjoy four days of meeting with Turkish Ceramic suppliers, networking, enjoying the sites and eating fabulous food! Members are able to meet one on one with suppliers and get new information on products and trends. This is also a great networking opportunity for our members to get to know each other better in a fun environment.

We will be sharing the adventures of our members on this blog. Check back daily for new stories. You can view all of the pictures on our Twitter page.

Tuesday, June 2: Mark Carlson, Century Tile

Arrival day at CTDA Trade mission to Turkey. Long flight over for all. 9-13 hours depending on where travel originated from. Istanbul is the only city in the world sitting on two continents, Asia and Europe. With an unofficial population of about 20 million people, travel from the airport to the Conrad Hotel took as long as 1 1/2 hours. Beautiful reception on a roof deck looking over the Waterfront capped off a long day for all. It was a great time for many of the CTDA Members to reacquaint themselves with the Turkish delegation, some of those were also in attendance for the last Turkish Trade Mission back in 2006.

Wednesday, June 3: Mark Carlson, Century Tile

Day 2 is in the books. One thing that surprises most people who come to Turkey is the food. Over the years of travel, this is my sixth trip to Turkey and it has become my favorite location for food. Their mastery of the use of spices to accent flavor and not control flavor is excellent. Even the Hotel breakfast was spectacular.

The event officially started with a presentation from the Turkish Ceramic Federation. Ctda president Tom Kotel gave an update on the business climate in the States and commented on how this was our second Trade mission to Turkey, the last being in 2006. The Federation set up basically a mini Coverings. There were 17 factories who had set up small booths displaying their new and best selling patterns and designs. All the factories are using the most up to date production techniques such as Ink Jet digital printing, Porcelain body productions, rectification and many are involved with the new trend in thin panel production. This allowed CTDA members to spend the day visiting and talking with the factories, determining which had the best opportunities for their individual needs and their market requirements. Many have showrooms in the Istanbul marketplace and arrangements were made to visit various factories on Thursday.

At night, we were hosted on a 4 hour boat tour of the Bosphorus River, enjoying great Turkish wine, fabulous views, a narrated guide of the seaside from Saffet Emre Tonguc who is a noted author and travel guide, and another fantastic meal on the boat. The evening was topped off with a belly dance presentation with many of the CTDA members showing off their dance capabilities or in my case the lack their of.

Thursday, June 4: Mark Carlson, Century Tile

Many trips to various factory showrooms kept most CTDA members busy in the morning. It was impressive just how large and well laid out some of these showrooms were. While the trade show layout in the hotel gave most members a general overview of the factory and their offerings, this gave members a chance to see the entire collection and spend some time with the representatives discussing their offerings.

Travel within Istanbul gives me an appreciation of just how good I have it back in Chicago. I can take the worst traffic day back home during a rush hour, and multiply it by about 5 as far as density of cars and trucks trying to traverse the city. What makes this even more challenging is that this occurrence happens all day long. Many of the roads were laid out hundreds of years ago, before the enormity of 21st Century traffic demands were in existence.

The afternoon was a time of exploration for most members. Walking the foot traffic only streets of old Istanbul, experiencing the views from the top of the Galata Tower or traveling to explore the Golden Horn was on the agenda for most.

The day was capped off with an elegant dinner on the shores of the Bosphorus River. The setting was spectacular the food was fantastic and an evening of music and dancing was enjoyed by all. Mr Bahadir representing the Turkish Federation and manager from one of the factories, thanked the CTDA members for attending the Trade Mission and told us of the plans of the Turkish Ceramic Federation to continue this type of gathering, hopefully starting in the US in the not too distant future. An exchange of appreciation was delivered eloquently by both Tom Kotel current CTDA president and by Jack Knies past CTDA president. I can safely say that a great time was had by all.

Friday, June 5: Mark Carlson, Century Tile

The last full official day of the trade Mission gave all CTDA members a chance to explore the history of Istanbul. We broke out into three smaller groups and spent the day exploring some of the wonders of Istanbul. Many of the members commented about how young our country is compared to some of the sites we visited. After a quick stop at the spice market, the group paid a visit to the Hagia Sophia Museum. The Hagia Sophia was constructed in 537 and spent the next 1,000 years as a Greek Orthodox Church and a Roman Catholic Church before being converted into a Mosque and now a museum. This was the largest church at the time and was completed in only 5 years. It was interesting from the perspective of all the different types of stone that was used in the Church. It was all cladded in a stone veneer which was cut using Silk thread, sand and water. An amazing technology for the time. A visit to the 3rd Century Cistern which provided running water to the palaces, a walk around the Hippodrome and mandatory visit to the Grand Bazaar. This shopping complex of over 4,000 stores was constructed 50 years before Columbus discovered America. Between 250,000 to 400,000 visitors travel the bazaar daily.

The trip to Turkey at the guests of the Turkish Ceramic Federation was a complete success. Many relationships between Turkish factories and CTDA members were formed and just as important many hours of valuable networking between members were spent. Being able to spend casual time discussing business, common issues and strategies with other members was greatly appreciated.

A big Thank You to the Turkish Ceramic Federation and CTDA putting this trip together.

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