Bologna, Italy -- Ceramics of Italy announced the successful first edition of the Cersaie Young Distributor Program, a new, annual initiative sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) and EdiCer SpA, the organizer of Cersaie, in collaboration with Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA). Confindustria Ceramica and EdiCer SpA selected three young North American distributors to accompany a large delegation of journalists, architects, and designers on a trip to the fair in Bologna, Italy from Sept. 23-27. This initiative advances the association’s goal to bring a new generation of distributors to the show and expose them to new products and tile applications being developed by Italian manufacturers.

According to Armando Cafiero, managing director of Confindustria Ceramica, the program aims to help foster strong relationships between Italian tile manufacturers and rising talent in the tile distribution industry.

“Cersaie is the largest and most important ceramic tile event in the world, and we wanted to be the ones to shepherd the next generation of flooring distributors through it, giving them insider access and personally connecting them with our manufacturers,” said Cafiero.

The participants were selected based on demonstrated leadership in their companies, a passion for the industry, and a desire to learn more about Italian ceramic tile. The 2019 Cersaie Young Distributor Program included: Eric Glocer, vice president of PCC Tile (Cape Coral, Fla.); George Braica, vice president of operations for Quality Wood Floors (Phoenix); and Justin Sheppard, president of MII Distributors (Bossier City, La.).

The program included a guided tour of the show, educational sessions on sustainability and tile installation, and a visit to an Italian tile factory in Sassuolo to see the production process firsthand. In the words of the selected participants, the program succeeded in creating new business opportunities for their companies.

“This experience has armed me with more resources to solve my customers’ problems, like novel brands and product categories,” said Glocer. “I will be importing from two new factories in Italy, and will be bringing in slabs for the first time. It also connected me to other distributors who are competing in different markets, allowing us to share best practices and pool resources.”

Braica added, “Cersaie blew me out of the water with how much there is to know about ceramics. The whole concept of porcelain slabs versus quartz or granite was a whole new concept to me, coming from the hard surface flooring industry.”

“I was reenergized to get back to the States and show all of my customers the new products," said Sheppard.

Cersaie 2020 will take place at BolognaFiere in Bologna, Italy, Sept. 28 - Oct. 2. Ceramics of Italy looks forward to continuing this program and further strengthening relationships with new generations of North American distributors in the years to come.

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