Bart Bettiga, executive director of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), was presented with the 2018 NTCA Ring of Honor Award at Total Solutions Plus, the tile industry educational conference held in Dallas this year. We met up with Bettiga to get his reaction to the award and to talk about his 2019 goals for the association.
FT: Congratulations on the award. How does it feel to win this honor?
Bettiga: I would say that I'm very honored and humbled. I feel like this is generally an award that should be for a volunteer, and I'm an association executive. So from that standpoint, I'm very appreciative that my efforts and the efforts of our organization are recognized, but I'm not done yet. So, I’ll use it as motivation to get some more done because I'm very honored.
FT:What are you going to get done in the next year?
Bettiga: There are two things that we're doing that I think are important. We’re really trying to recruit and bring in more members into the organization. We're really trying to build more value into the organization with programs members can use, such as benefits and services to recruit people into their company. Finding people to come into our workforce is not something that the NTCA can solve alone, it’s something we can play a very strong role in. In order to get people to come into our trade, they need to very clearly see the opportunities that are there. They need to know that they can work for a company that will give them an opportunity to take care of their family.
So you've got to talk about insurance. You have to talk about investment opportunities and, have to have the training programs that coincide with that. All of those are tools that we need to build for our members so that they can go out in their own respective community and actually have something to say. It's one thing to say we need workers to go to the local high school and say, “Hey, have you heard about tile as a career?” But you have to be able to have a message that really shows them that if they come in and they learned the trade—what are they going to? What’s the money that they're going to make? What are their opportunities? Maybe, when they want to get off their knees, they go into business on their own. Could they become a superintendent, a project manager? Can they go to work for a manufacturer or a distributor?
FT: What are some other opportunities and challenges you are seeing?
Bettiga: I just came from Cersaie, and the technology in our industry is incredible. You cannot tell the difference between natural stone, cement, terrazzo, a wood—and some of them are in large panels that are breathtaking. And with porcelain technology we’re replicating the look of natural stones that were quarried hundreds of years ago. The problem is, is that we need to completely retrain the workforce on all of this. They need new tools, they need to be trained on how to handle large-format tiles. They need to invest in technology to transport the material safely. So it's a, it's a new way of a new way of setting tile.
FT:What does it take for an installer to get into business of setting large-format panels?
Bettiga:It’s probably in the several thousand dollars of investing in new tools, but there are a lot of ways to do that. There are a lot of manufacturers that are willing to work with them. Frankly, if they make that investment, they’ll make the money back very, very quickly. My suggestion to someone that is thinking about that would be to attend local regional training events, get trained, and then they can find more about making sure that that's for them and that's right for them.
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