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Sam Bruce
NTCA President
My company became members of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) in 1992. NTCA’s president at that time was Jay Fischer of Fischer Tile & Marble from Sacramento, Calif. Jay and an NTCA representative made a trip to central California and introduced us to the NTCA as we knew nothing about it. We were stuck in our own little bubble in Visalia, Calif. For the next 20 years we paid our yearly membership fee, focused on what we knew, and continued to stay in our bubble. In 2012, we realized the tile industry was rapidly changing and we needed to be more up to date with products, methods, business relationships and business practices. At a Crossville and Custom Building Products co-op training, Mary Yocum persuaded us to apply to be recognized as an NTCA Five-Star Contractor and become more involved with the NTCA and the tile industry. Since that moment our business began to change. Up to this point our product knowledge and installation methods were gained through supplier representatives and our own experiences. Because this was the only avenue, the knowledge came slowly and was not always accurate. After becoming more involved, we were at the forefront of the knowledge and sometimes took part in the creation of these new approved methods.
It became a priority to attend every industry event such as NTCA Workshops, The International Surface Event (TISE), Coverings, Total Solutions Plus (TSP). While I was there, it was a priority to attend all of the meetings. I brought the things I learned back to my business and implemented them immediately, since we were now at the forefront of product information. Training in my business became a priority as it was recognized that it made us more efficient and would help us more quickly grow tile installers who were more prepared for their career. As my company’s involvement in the NTCA and the tile industry grew, my business relationships with suppliers, peers, and other industry partners also began to grow. Supplier partnerships strengthened since I was able to establish relationships with regional managers and executives who I had never met before. Peer relationships grew with other tile contractors from all over the United States as I was able to learn from them and share common experiences that helped each other. Many of these relationships have evolved into friendships that go beyond the tile industry. Because of these relationships my company grew and became more successful. My recommendation to you is do not wait 20 years! Get the most out of your business or your career now! Attend industry events that are going to grow you and provide knowledge that you did not have before. Get involved with the NTCA as an Ambassador or join a committee. If you have employees encourage them to attend NTCA Workshops and events that will help them advance their career. Build relationships and find the right partners that will help your business be more successful. And those who are already involved, reach out to other tile contractors and peers and help get them involved, just as then-NTCA President Jay Fischer did for Visalia Ceramic Tile. This will make our industry stronger. Burst out of your own bubble and you will see that the opportunities are endless. Best to your success, Sam Bruce President, NTCA SamB@vctile.com