To help tile and stone industry players stay on top of their game, Coverings 2013 has created a robust conference program with more than 70 compelling sessions. Recognized experts will share vital information and insights for architects and interior designers, builders and remodelers, retailers, fabricators, installers and distributors when The Ultimate Tile + Stone Experience comes to Atlanta for the first time, April 29 – May 2, 2013. There is no charge for any of these high-powered programs, many of which offer free CEU credit. The conference sessions, with tracks for all levels from beginner to expert, are regularly touted as one of the top reasons to attend the international tile and stone super show. 

Classification Key: I=Installer, F=Fabricator, B=Builder/Remodeler, R=Retailer, D=Distributor, A=Architect, N=Interior Designer


Monday, April 29

8:30 AM - 9:30 a.m.

Providing CEUs to Architects & Interior Designers About Natural Stone

Speakers:Sarah Kelly, Marble Institute of America; Vincent Moiso, Quarry Collection

Experience Level:Mid-Level
Want to expand your outreach to architects and interior designers? Have you ever had difficulty getting an appointment at a large firm in your area? Consider providing CEUs (continuing education units) to the design community. This session will showcase how the CEU program works and how to position your company as the leading expert on natural stone in your marketplace, how the various CEU programs work (AIA, ASID, IDC, IDEC, IIDA, NKBA and others) and how to get started giving presentations. This “how-to” explanation will help you get started down the CEU provider path.



8:30 AM - 10:00 a.m.

Tile Council of North America: 2013 Version of the TCNA Handbook and other TCNA Initiatives

Speakers:Eric Astrachan or Stephanie Samulski, Tile Council of North America

Experience Level: All
Don’t miss the unveiling of the 2013 version of the TCNA Handbook, one of the most important documents in the tile industry. Used by professionals across the industry, the Handbook ensures quality sales, specification and installation of tile and stone. Join TCNA to hear the latest methods and revisions you need to know to keep your business up-to-date and successful.



Competing for the Future…Tools for Developing Your Team to Become World Class Performers

Speaker:Sandy Smith, Sandy Smith Seminars

Experience Level: Leader
Leading and managing a small business in today’s economy can be stressful to say the least. Managers must wear multiple hats, learn to multitask, cope with constant interruption and distraction, deal with time pressures and then smile as they interact with a complaining customer. In addition, many small businesses struggle daily to make a profit. This interactive presentation is designed to assist leaders and managers to create an organizational culture whose teams perform at a consistently high level. Sandy’s content is practical in nature with the latest trends in developing high-performing teams. Participants will leave the session with some "real world" tools to be applied at work.



1:45 PM - 2:45 p.m.

Solving Difficult Substrate Issues

Speaker:Tom Plaskota, HB Fuller Construction Products

Experience Level: New to Profession/Mid-Level
Nothing adds time and difficulties to a job more than substrate issues. In this interactive presentation, you'll learn to identify and solve challenging installation issues over substrates such as very porous concrete, very dense or burnished concrete, metal substrates, irregular surfaces, high-moisture concrete, cracked concrete, radiant heat systems, gypsum underlayments and others. Simplify your installations, save time and prevent costly callbacks by identifying and addressing these substrate issues before they become problems.



Why Epoxy Grout and Bonding Mortars Are Essential to the Tile and Stone Industry

Speaker:Alan Kin, Tex Rite

Experience Level: New to Profession/Mid-Level
Get the most from your epoxy grout and bonding mortars. Attendees will achieve an easy to understand knowledge for epoxy resin without having a chemistry background. This lecture is based on an easy to follow format, balanced understanding for epoxy usage and job site conditions for epoxy grouts and mortars to excel. Whether you have no installation experience, low experience or high experience, individuals gain more knowledge about epoxies that make them user friendly. Get updated on product usage and improved installation techniques.




Style, Substance and Color: Major Trends and Directions

Speaker:Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone Color Institute

Experience Level:All
In this complex and information-laden world, there is a multiplicity of resources that inform color and design directions. More than ever before it is urgent to be aware of future trends as consumers are seeking distinctive styling and considerable substance. Most importantly, colors and combinations must be appealing, evocative, transformative and "on-target." Join us as Leatrice Eiseman, author of eight books on color, leading color forecaster and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute will explain the directional trends that will help you connect with your targeted customers/clients.



3:15 PM -4:15 p.m.

Sealing Natural Stone, Tile & Grout - Fact & Fiction

Speaker:Joe Salvo, Miracle Sealants

Experience Level:All
Everyone in the stone and tile industry needs to know the basics, as well as how advances in product development impact the industry. Information abounds, but it is it the right information? Join this session to learn the facts as to which surfaces benefit from being sealed;  the difference between sealers, finishes and waxes; solvent versus water; the different protection sources used in most sealers and impregnators; how most impregnators work; how to determine effectiveness; and how to determine costs. 



Marble Use in the Kitchen

Speakers:Joshua Levinson, Artistic Tile; Todd Robertson, Vermont Quarries

Experience Level:All
Specific to natural stone, many may think that you can only use granite on a kitchen countertop. This session will focus on the use of marble in the kitchen which is on the rise in the U.S. (note: marble has been used in kitchens for hundreds of years, especially in Europe). With the increasing trend in marble use in kitchens, attendees will learn the different protective treatments required; obtain unique design elements of using marble for a countertop surface; and expand their ability to set the proper consumer expectation.



Managing a Successful Small Business Forum


Experience Level:Leader
Most companies in the stone and tile industry are small businesses. This session brings together a panel of business leaders who have weathered the economic storm, planned for the future, and run successful small businesses. Listen to their stories and be prepared to take notes about "best practices." Plan on joining this robust Q&A session. Attendees who attend this session and work in a family business environment as also encouraged to attend "Managing a Successful Family Business" on Wednesday afternoon.


Going Linear

Speaker:Dean Moilanen, The Noble Company

Experience Level:All
In the past several years there has been increased interest in linear drains for use in ceramic tile and natural stone installations. These linear drains are becoming increasingly popular in residential, commercial, hospitality, and institutional projects. The features and benefits of these linear drains are numerous. However, the rapid increase in the different types of linear drains now available can lead to confusion and uncertainty as to which type of linear drains will work best for your project needs.

In Going Linear, we will retrace the history and evolution of this product. We will examine the general features and benefits of the linear drain concept as it applies to tile and stone applications. We will identify significant design and application variables that occur amongst different linear drain designs. Architects, contractors, and industry professionals will leave this presentation armed with the most current information available on this important product trend.



Profitable Installations with Large (Very) Format Tile

Speaker:Larry Rheinschmidt, Rheinschmidt Tile & Marble, Inc.

Experience Level:Mid-Level/Leader
Larry Rheinschmidt is a successful NTCA Five Star Contractor, whose company specializes in small and large project tile and stone installations. Large format tile applications are common in the projects his company manages, and he will offer some sound and practical advice for producing a profit. Attention to substrates, managing the workforce, communication with the project team, change-orders and more will be covered in this program. 



What Every Retailer Can Learn from Apple

Speaker:James Dion, Dionco, Inc.

Experience Level:All
There's a reason why Apple is the most admired company in the world. And there's a reason that their sales are north of $6,000 per square foot. The reason is that every product is a head turner. However, a rock solid product line is not the only reason why Apple has so many apostles all over the world. Designed to simplify and enhance the presentation and marketing of personal computing products, Apple stores are a feast for the eye and intend to guide the intellectual and emotional experience of the customer. Nothing is left to chance, every detail matters. And there are the people that they attract as employees and the way they get them to join the "life’s work." And, finally, there are the stories of the stellar customer service. Take a tour with us behind the scenes and find out what Apple does that you too can do. No, we don't want you to copy Apple. All we want is for you to learn how to have a clear, consistent and simple vision to guide you in everything you do in your store.



The American Tile Industry: From Its 19th Century Roots to the Present & Beyond

Speakers:  Joseph A. Taylor and Sheila Menzies, Tile Heritage Foundation

Experience Level:All
Take a visual journey from the past to the present with a projection into the future vitality of the tile industry through the Tile Heritage Foundation's tiles, images and archival collections, documenting the knowledge base of creative and enlightened individuals who have made tiles their business in all arenas over the past 140 years.


Everyone active in the tile industry today benefits from broadened knowledge. People, products, and business have always been at the heart of the American Tile Industry. In 1987, the Tile Heritage Foundation was formed to research, document and archive the history of tile making in America, creating a repository for information on current manufacturing, distribution and installation -- validating the entire industry for the future through its collections of tiles, images, and records.



Designers, Build the Buzz: Editors, Bloggers and Social Media Pros Offer Insider Advice on Getting Published 


Experience Level:All
How do you go about getting your projects published in our digital age? Our panel of influential editors and bloggers will spell out what catches their eye and offer advice on how best to present your work to them. Along with social media pros, they'll discuss how sites such as Houzz and Pinterest are changing the way you showcase your work and how editors select projects. 



The Evolution of Green Standardization and Procurement


Experience Level:All
Over the years, green building initiatives have had a profound impact on the architectural marketplace. From voluntary building standards and rating systems, to codes and regulations, to Federal procurement initiatives, it is important to have a thorough understanding of today’s rapidly evolving sustainability demands. This session provides a tile industry glimpse into the past, present, and future of some of today’s hottest green topics including: the continued development of well-known green building standards and rating systems; governmental procurement initiatives and the impact on the industry; the prevalence of multi-attribute sustainability standards and certification programs for products; and the emergence of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).




Tuesday, April 30



8:00 AM - 9:00 a.m.


Installing Tile and Stone in Remodeling Projects: Panel Discussion

Speakers:  John Cox, Cox Tile, Inc.; Jan Hohn, Hohn & Hohn Tile; Joe Kerber, Kerber Tile, Marble and Stone

Experience Level:All
Remodeling projects account for a significant amount of tile and stone consumption, and are very different from new construction and commercial projects in many ways.  Many tile contractors who specialize in this type of work must be knowledgeable and proficient in other trades, and know how to put a team together to meet the customer’s expectations. NTCA Five Star Contractors who perform this type of work will share their field experience with attendees and answer questions. 



Understanding and Using ISO 13007-5 Liquid Waterproofing with ANSI A118.10

Speaker:Dr. Neil McMurdie, Mapei Corporation

Experience Level:Mid-Level/Leader
In 2012, ISO released a new specification for liquid applied waterproofing membranes that helped design professionals specify the right waterproofing membrane for use under tile assemblies. This new, global specification measures adhesion and waterproofing performance as well as crack bridging properties. Class participants will be trained in the way to get the most out of the two specifications for the optimal product selection and installation recommendation.



Natural Stone Tile: An Overview

Speaker:Joshua Levinson, Artistic Tile

Experience Level:New to Profession/Mid-Level
This one-hour course will familiarize design professionals with the resources available for installation methods and specifying standards for natural stone tile. The session will review the characteristics of natural stone in order to understand how they might affect your project. See examples of common stone tile failures and discuss the best practices to ensure a successful installation.



The Psychology of Price and Why It Matters

Speaker:James Dion, Dionco, Inc.

Experience Level:All
Price is just a number and yet consumers are obsessed with it. Price can have psychological and even physiological effects on human beings -- it can infuriate, surprise, sadden or delight us. It can even block the thinking part of our brain leading us to make poor business decisions. There are almost half a billion dollars in unused daily deals according to some estimates which is sufficient proof that for some consumers, getting a deal is more important than getting a product. And what are flooring retailers doing to appeal to this consumer? Slashing prices even more. Yet lowering it can have a significant impact on profitability. What should you do instead? There are at least ten price strategies that you can use to win the customer's mind, heart and wallet which don't involve lowering prices but positioning them in such a way so that the customer truly feels that they got the best deal.



How Video Marketing Can Help Improve Your Branding & Online Marketing Efforts

Speaker:  Juliet Sallette, Wolf TMC

Experience Level:All
In this session, attendees will learn why video marketing is an essential, low cost marketing initiative that drives online traffic and online exposure and generates awareness of products or services. The session will provide retailers and distributors with examples of how to engage customers and prospects with educational content that promotes their brand, retail location, products and services. This one-hour seminar will include tips on best practices, trends and cost effective technology that will not break the budget, and explore case studies. Attendees will discover the importance of video marketing and branding efforts and how to use video marketing to help generate online buzz and, most importantly, how to help their company achieve online leads and publicity by leveraging YouTube and other online marketing channels that can fit into any marketing budget.



Thin Tile Project: From Design to Completion

Moderator:Bart Bettiga, National Tile Contractors Association

Speakers:Jason Banks, David Allen Company; representative from Barnhill/Balfour Beatty Joint-Venture; otherTBD

Experience Level:All
Want to learn about the thin tile design and build process from start to finish? Why was thin tile selected? How did the architect, general contractor and tile installer work together? What techniques were used? What was learned in the process? Join this session as we provide a short overview of thin tile and its application before delving into a case study of the Wake County Justice Center by the architect, general contractor and tile installer. All will address the project from design thoughts and functions to selection and coordination and installation methods and tools. The program will detail a completed thin tile job from start to finish.



Ceramic Tile: An Eco-Logical Choice

Speaker:Ryan Fasan, Professional Attention to Tile Installation

Experience Level:Mid-Level
As one of the oldest cladding materials, ceramic tile inherently has a strong sustainable story. Unfortunately, early green building programs have overlooked it as a preferred green material for various reasons. This session will delve into the many natural benefits ceramic tile provides as a cladding material to illustrate just how green a choice it has always been. Attendees will explore how ceramics currently fit within green building platforms like LEED and propose the possibility of improving upon existing programs with more thought for durable hard surfaces. Ceramic tile is one of the fastest innovating industries in the building sector and new technology is creating new opportunities for greener buildings on a yearly basis. Don’t be left behind – join Ryan Fasan to explore the new face of this ancient material.





8:00 AM - 9:30 a.m.


Fabricators Forum

Moderator:Tony Malisani, Malisani Inc.

Panelists:Dustin Braudway, Bluewater Surfaces; Marco Duran, Atlas Marble and Granite

Experience Level:All
This open forum is designed for fabricators to get answers to questions or problems they may have with regard to being successful in today’s business economy. In today’s business climate diversification is a critical step many fabricators are taking. This panel is well versed in both residential and commercial topics and what it takes to be successful in both arenas. Costs, stone supplier relationships, collections, employee development, and meeting customer expectations are just a few of the business-related topics that will be part of the panel discussion.




9:30 AM - 10:30 a.m.


Setting Proper Expectations with the Design Professional about Natural Stone

Speaker:Peter Becker,

Experience Level:New to Profession/Mid-Level
Natural stone is in large demand around the world. Yet sometimes the design professionals will simply substitute stone for other materials in the product specification without fully understanding if stone is best suited for that application. This session will focus on the relationship between the stone contractor and the design professional, as well as the proper application of stone in a variety of applications. Learn from perspectives offered by Mr. Becker about how you can enhance natural stone’s profile and visibility.



Basics of Travertine Selection, Fabrication, Installation & Maintenance

Speaker:Chris Byrd, Interceramic, Inc.

Experience Level:New to Profession/Mid-Level
This one-hour class is designed for attendees to gain a full understanding of travertine as a building material. Learn more about how to select this natural stone for a variety of interior and exterior applications and how travertine is fabricated and its unique application opportunities to enhance design plans. Obtain information about setting the proper consumer expectation in regards to installation and maintenance.  



Healthcare Reform is Reality: How Smart Businesses are Preparing for the Affordable Care Act

Speaker:Gene Marks, The Marks Group

Experience Level:Mid-Level/Leader

Join Gene as he reviews the current state of the country’s healthcare system and all the changes that will affect small and medium-sized companies. He'll look at the tax effects of this legislation, both corporate and professionally. He'll discuss the ins and outs of the new exchanges that will be coming into place and offer recommendations for making the best use of healthcare expenditures.


Business owners have a lot of questions about how healthcare reform will affect their business financially. You won't want to miss Gene’s 10 significant issues that a business owner needs to consider when projecting his or her company’s health care expenditures over the next few years.



Concepts:  Where Do I Find My Inspiration?

Speaker:Liset Robinson, IIDA, Savannah College of Art and Design

Experience Level:All
Concept generation and creative thinking are processes that can be learned. They are not as mysterious as they seem. The design process begins with analysis, which leads to elaboration, and then moves toward discovery. The process of concept derivation will be discussed, including the exploration of graphic images such as diagrams. Diagrams allow designers to look at things differently in order to expand their thinking. This provides the designer with the ability to re-center visual thinking through the use of abstraction -- both functional and conceptual -- to provide a solution for the client that is unique and purposeful.



Tips, Tricks and Landmines in the Field of Green

Speaker:Holley Henderson, ASID, LEED, ID+C, H2EcoDesign

Experience Level:All
Trying to navigate the field of green? Join Holley as she provides the latest on LEED V4, sustainability at low or no cost and future trends in the industry. This session will provide tips on best practices and future trends in sustainability for tile and stone; tricks to understand the new LEED V4 prerequisites; and get you through the landmines of marketing and positioning products for teams and clients. 




10:45 AM - 11:45 a.m.


Be Our Guest:  Tile and Stone in Hospitality


Speakers:Pierre Josselin, Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA); Patricia Richey, tvsdesign; Karen Teske Blue, The Johnson Studio

Experience Level:All

From restaurants to hotels, architects and designers throughout Atlanta are being recognized for inspiring designs both at home and abroad. Join this interactive discussion as our panel shares their motivation, the role tile and stone has played in their work and future hospitality trends.




1:45 PM - 2:45 p.m.


Contractors Forum: Interactive Roundtable Discussions – Concrete Substrates

Moderated & Presented by:National Tile Contractors Association 

Experience Level:All
Representatives from the concrete industry, general contracting, tile contracting, and a tile industry consultant will present a challenging and lively discussion on installations over concrete substrates. Large format tile, grout width requirements, flatness requirements, and more will be discussed by this panel of experts. Bring your questions and be prepared to share your insights. This will be a peer-to-peer exchange.



Trends in Tile: Boundary-Breaking New Looks, New Innovations and New Materials for Indoors and Out

Speaker:Jen Renzi, Author, The Art of Tile

Experience Level:All

Advancements in cutting-edge digital technology and the revival of artisanal processes have collided to transform both the look and application of tile, creating limitless opportunities for designers and opening up new channels for customization. Superthin, superthick, supersmall, supersized -- the very format that tile comes in has been pushed to extremes, expanding how and where tile can be installed. And the industry has become a hotbed of innovation, with some of the brightest design luminaries and hottest new talents -- Philippe Starck, Patricia Urquiola, and Raw Edges among them -- teaming with top manufacturers.


Jen Renzi, author of "The Art of Tile" and a freelance design writer for Interior Design, The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, etc. will discuss these exciting advancements, from tiles that can be installed without adhesives to chic encaustics and the continued refinement of stone-like porcelain and faux-wood planks. Extending far beyond the traditional applications, Renzi will share cutting-edge residential and commercial installations from across the globe. Her talk will also demonstrate how the latest tile trends dovetail with broader cultural shifts, and address how manufacturers have committed to making their products greener than ever before.




3:15 PM - 4:15 p.m.


Stone Testing for Dummies

Speakers:David Castellucci, Kenneth Castellucci & Associates, Inc.; Chuck Muehlbauer, Marble Institute of America
Experience Level: New to Profession/Mid-Level

Stone testing is an important aspect of the stone and tile industry, yet the difficult part is to know which test is appropriate for the right application. During this fun, interactive session, learn about the relevance of the most widely used test procedures and when they should be utilized. Learn tips on how to explain the technical aspects of stone testing in every day common language.



Metrics for the Automated & Un-Automated Fabrication Shop

Speakers:Josiah Lilly, Epic Ceramic & Stone; Paul Menninger, Capitol Granite

Experience Level:Mid-Level

Understanding your metrics, and being able to price work for profitability is key for the automated shop to produce a profit at the end of the day. A comprehensive understanding of fixed and variable costs, contribution margins, and per activity man-hours is critical to extrapolating large bids. In this session, attendees will learn to develop a budget based on history and planned sales; sell man-hours and develop a process for tracking; develop metrics against norms in industry; and understand GAP accounting and what it means to banks and other financial institutions who may back the fabricator.



The Importance of Vapor Management in Steam Room Installations

Speaker:Bastian Lohmann, Wedi Corporation

Experience Level:Mid-Level/Leader

Steam room applications are a niche that is growing and the physics and mechanics required when designing and building these applications safely cannot go overlooked. This session will address the different environments, usage levels and technical equipment a contractor needs to consider before installation begins. Other areas to be discussed include stone and tile selection, command safe installation techniques, and proper products employed in the process.