As a guy who doesn’t fit into any of the major categories within this industry, my podcast has filled a role across all of them. I’m not a wood guy; I’m not a carpet guy; and I’m not a tile guy. I’m a plastic guy and sometimes an engineered wood guy. There isn’t a major club for that role. With the podcast being business related, I have spanned the entire flooring and tile and stone industries. The language of business is universal, and if you sell donuts, I can probably find a way to relate to you and find out about your inner workings. That being said, I’ve attended The International Surface Event the past three years and the show fits my needs fairly well. This year, I decided to add Coverings, the premiere tile and stone event, to my agenda as well. I’m glad I did.  

What does a guy who doesn’t install any tile or stone have to gain by attending a tile show? We won’t even talk about the benefits of being able to promote the podcast. First and foremost, I was able to see a lot of friends from around the country. We walked the show together, talked at booths, attended parties in the evening, and then said we would return to our rooms but ended up at the hotel bar having another drink. Conversations range from just catching up to funny anecdotes from projects to learning how to better run your business. 

Next, I was able to learn about new products in the industry. Why does this matter to someone who doesn’t work in it, you ask? I have clients who want tile showers and floors or backsplashes. I am better able to assist my clients when I have a working knowledge of what they are looking to accomplish and how the process will go. I can better align myself with local contractors whom I know can deliver at a high level and offer superior installation services. I can bring back knowledge about new tools or products to talk with local contractors about in my Arizona Flooring Installers Facebook group which also has a monthly meetup. When cement board and topical waterproofing are king in your area along with mud pans, it’s nice to know there are other options out there and to see who is interested in learning new things.  

Lastly, it’s just a time to get your battery recharged. You may think you can’t afford to go to a show because of the cost and the loss of income combined in one week. I’m going to tell you that you can’t afford not to go. With all of the above, and the fact that you get a week off work, it’s a no brainer. As entrepreneurs we often burn the candle at both ends and push ourselves too far. Attending a show is still work, but you are doing a different kind and it becomes a “work-cation.” The downtime and time spent with friends and developing new relationships will reinvigorate your passion, let you relax and help you find a place of peace again. You can return home feeling refreshed and attack your business from new angles. Old problems become easily conquered. Some problems will virtually disappear because you realize it’s not worth the concern.

It’s not just about attending big events like Surfaces, Coverings or NWFA Expo. Even getting involved with smaller events held by your local manufacturer reps are a great time. You can catch up with your rep, learn about new products, meet other local contractors or even just get some free food. Staying informed in this ever-changing industry is a must in my opinion. I’ve seen large-format tile explode onto the market as well as new mortars to handle it and new types of wood glue. WPC and SPC came along and took over the LVP categories. All of these changes affect how you carry out your projects. They change the ways in which you can approach your work and what you can offer clients. By not staying informed and up to date, you are cheating yourself out of potential revenue streams or the ability to speed up your work or save your body from damage by continuing to use older, heavier products. 

All in all, if you are not getting involved with the industry and keeping up with new developments, you are falling behind. You will be one of the people claiming to have 40 years of experience using the same old technology with the cheapest materials and not fully understand the value you bring to the table. I wish I knew why it was always 40 years. I always like to try and find out if folks actually have 40 years of experience or one year of experience repeated 40 times.  

Which side of the story would you like to be on? Personally, I don’t want to stop learning or evolving. I want to know what is coming my way. I want to be involved and help influence where the industry goes in the future. For all of these reasons, I believe you can’t afford not to be involved with industry events. So where will you be headed next? Who do you want to meet? What do you want to learn about? 

Don’t forget to tune into the Floor Academy Podcast every Wednesday on your favorite streaming app of choice. Make sure to tell a friend how it can help them go from owning a job to owning a business, and from owning a business to owning an asset.