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A Busy Year for the Countertop Industry

Posted on 29 August 2013 by cradmin

Chuck Sawyer photoGuest Blog by Chuck Sawyer of ISFA

This year has not only been busy and full of exciting changes for the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) but also for the entire countertop industry. Partnerships and alliances are expanding within the industry and among closely associated industries, such as woodworking. Opportunities for general business education and countertop fabrication education have also never been greater or more successful than they are now and will be in the near future.

One of the ways that ISFA is helping countertop professionals to expand their knowledge and network with peers is by putting together Grass Roots Gatherings, hosted by industry supporters like Cosentino, Dixie Plywood and Oldcastle Surfaces. In addition, ISFA established a series of CEO Roundtable discussions in Cincinnati and Chicago, with upcoming events in Boston and Seattle. And with the popularity of the Roundtable events, we are planning a new version aimed at the new generation of business leaders in the countertop industry. This new event will be a conclave where the next generation of CEOs can learn about and share experiences on the topics necessary for leading successful businesses.

Organizations and businesses in the countertop industry are also expanding training opportunities. ISFA is hosting several training seminars, including hands-on training on stone and quartz fabrication and another on solid surface fabrication. A partnership between the Marble Institute of America (MIA) and Stone World is also providing a complete educational series that focuses on running a successful fabrication company. Additionally, ISFA will be providing some opportunities for learning at the 2014 StonExpo in Las Vegas by putting together several educational sessions that are being held at the show.

Another exciting event that will expand the reach of the countertop industry is a new partnership between ISFA and the International Woodworking Fair (IWF). In 2014, IWF will provide an expanded platform for the surfacing industry, which will include a full countertop educational track designed to reach the cabinet, woodworking and countertop industries. Additionally, a full-day Countertop Symposium will be held at IWF.

The big news, however, is that the 2014 IWF will include a new concept – the Countertop Pavilion, a dedicated section of the show floor designed specifically for members of the countertop industry. It will be a high-visibility opportunity for suppliers of machinery, materials, tooling and other products and services in our industry. For fabricators of decorative surfacing products it will be a great way to meet with suppliers, see machinery in action and be part of one of the nation’s largest trade shows.

IWF 2014 will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta on August 20-23, 2014. You can check out the web site at: www.iwfatlanta.com.

With all of these opportunities, it makes good sense to take advantage of them. As our fabrication shops are emerging from the “Great Recession” and we become busier and busier, it is all too easy to lose sight of the educational opportunities that can help to make a fabrication shop more profitable. Like the person who didn’t have the time to take a class on time management, don’t neglect the opportunities to participate and grow with the wealth of training offered by our industry!

Chuck Sawyer is the Executive Director of the International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) and can be reached at [email protected].

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ISFA Names Chuck Sawyer As Executive Director

Posted on 18 November 2012 by cradmin

The International Surface Fabricators Association (ISFA) has named industry veteran Chuck Sawyer to the position of Executive Director of the industry trade association for the surfacing industry.

Chuck has been part of the surfacing industry since 1974, originally owning fabrication shops in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. One of the first DuPont certified trainers, he pioneered some of the early fabricator training in the US and South America and was one of the original faculty members of ITEC.  He served as co-chair for the ISSFA Solid Surface Conferences and was selected Associate Member of the Year in 2001.  Additionally, he has extensive sales, marketing and product development experience at both the distributor and manufacturer levels.  In 2009, he was one of the first individuals to be accredited as a LEED Green Associate by the USGBC.

“We are very pleased to have Chuck working on advancing the association,” said Mike Langenderfer, ISFA President. “His knowledge, experience and industry contacts, along with the great ideas he brings to the table, will help us to revamp ISFA’s programming in the coming years.”

“I am extremely pleased that I will have the honor of leading ISFA,” said Sawyer. “The industry as a whole has been through tough times in recent years but things are starting to move in the right direction. ISFA has some amazing things in store over the next few years and I can’t wait to launch the next generation of this outstanding organization.”

Among the initiatives for the coming year at ISFA will be:

Review and development of existing and new standards:  This will include comprehensive fabrication and installation standards for solid surfacing and quartz surfacing.

Broaden the ISFA educational offering:  Continuing in its tradition of providing excellence in fabrication and business training, ISFA will be introducing a process for more accessible fabrication training on a regional level, increased opportunities for training of middle managers and a special program for senior managers. The popular Million Dollar Mentor program will also be upgraded.

Provide increased networking opportunities:  Networking has always been a valuable part of the ISFA experience. In 2013 we will bring some exciting regional and local opportunities for ISFA members to work, connect and learn together for the benefit of members and the industry as a whole.

“Through input from fabricator members, manufacturers, associates and industry experts, and the creation of standards, training opportunities and networking events that represent the best in the business,” said Sawyer,  “ISFA can serve all stakeholders – consumers, architects & designers, contractors, fabricators, specifiers, manufacturers and suppliers – assuring that we represent all that is the best there can be in our industry.”

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